Last week Amtrak completed a series of Acela speed tests in the northeast service corridor during late nights and early mornings. With upgraded tracks along Acela routes, Amtrak is preparing to offer higher speeds for all Acela scheduled service.
Test speeds go from 150 to 165 mph and a few runs were made at even higher speeds. Amtrak has plans to step Acela service to a maximum of 225 mph, which was the purpose of Acela service right from the beginning.
Faster service for Acela routes is a goal that Amtrak will achieve with the completion of new track in the northeast service region later this year. Here is a link to video taken during the Acela test runs at night:
The upgraded tracks are expensive but the right-of-way acquisitions are the real deal breakers. Amtrak wants to extend high speed rail across the country. City by city, state by state; passenger rail service is an endless series of fights every mile of the way.
Here in Seattle the best we can do for the moment is Amtrak Cascades service along the west coast. The Cascades is a "Talgo" train, Talgo's are "push-me/pull-you" trains where the rail cars share a single axle, hydraulicly suspended, pair of high-speed wheels that tilt on curves to allow higher than normal speeds on unimproved tracks.
The Amtrak Cascades in my area is limited to 70 mph. The closest I've come to one of these trains was at Auburn Station, the big rail station south of Seattle. As the train approached, a huge wall of wind pushes everything out of it's path. But as it passes, a powerful suction force pulls everything towards the wheels of the passing rail cars.
Station guards warn people to move far from the tracks. I stood next to the coffee cart, yet could still feel the air pressure pulling me towards the train as it passed, only at 70 mph! Any faster and the rail station would have to be modified.