Amtrak's New Airo Fleet Will Transform US Train Travel as We Know It

The trains are set to debut in 2026

Amtrak Airo

Courtesy of Amtrak

Railfans, the moment you've been waiting for is finally here: Amtrak just unveiled its newest trains, and they are sure to transform the way we think about train travel in the U.S.

Dubbed the Amtrak Airo, the new trains are set to go into service in 2026 and will serve more than a dozen routes across the U.S., including the Northeast Regional, Cascades, Palmetto, and Downeaster.

The revamped design will offer passengers a travel experience similar to what you'd find in Europe—or on Florida's new Brightline train, whose manufacturer, the multinational industrial manufacturing company Siemens, is also behind the Amtrak Airo.

As the Amtrak Airo will run at up to 125 miles-per-hour speeds, and it will be able to transition between electrified tracks and non-electrified tracks in a nearly seamless fashion (current locomotive changes, like at the New Haven stop on the Vermonter, can take as long as 20 minutes), passengers will be able to travel from one destination to the next much more quickly. The new fleet will also be even more environmentally friendly, producing "90 percent less particulate emissions in diesel operations."

Comfort, too, will not be in short supply—we're talking lots of legroom, adjustable headrests, and, in business class, your pick of double or single seats. Other modern amenities include individual outlets for every seat, USB ports, Wi-Fi, and touchless restroom controls. Self-service in the café car will also be available, and even more exciting for fans of slow travel: bigger windows for prime viewing.

Amtrak Airo Coach Seating

Courtesy of Amtrak

To improve wayfinding, a color-coded system will be implemented to identify the cabins better, while digital information systems will boost the customer experience, Amtrak says.

"As we invest in the future, Amtrak is leading the way with a new era of rail," Amtrak president Roger Harris said in a statement. "Our new trains will transform the Amtrak experience with significant environmental benefits, a progressive design, and world-class amenities."

The unveiling of the Airo trains comes just weeks after the U.S. Department of Transportation granted Amtrak $4.3 billion in funding as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

"Americans deserve modern, safe, reliable passenger rail service, and introducing brand new rail cars is a major step towards improving the daily experience of commuters and travelers who depend on Amtrak," said Amit Bose, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) administrator. "This year, FRA provided nearly $4.3 billion in annual funding to support these improvements, and with President Biden's historic investments in Amtrak, we're poised to make intercity passenger rail an even more efficient, convenient, and accessible mode of travel for Americans."

While 2026 is years away, for now, travelers will have Amtrak's new Acela trains to look forward to. Traveling up and down the Northeast Corridor, the fleet is slated to debut in 2023 after a two-year delay.

Article Sources
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  1. Amtrak. "Introducing Amtrak Airo." December 15, 2022.

  2. U.S. Department of Transportation. "USDOT, Biden Administration Deliver $4.3 Billion in Funding to Amtrak in Year One of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law." November 30, 2022.

  3. The Points Guy. "Amtrak's New Acela Trains Delayed Until Fall 2023." April 1, 2022.