- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The morning train ride between New York and Washington just got 10 minutes shorter.

Amtrak recently began offering once-a-day Acela Express service between the two cities that stops only in Philadelphia. The move shaves 6 percent off the trip time of a standard five-stop ride, which takes 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The special weekday Acela service, which is intended to appeal to business travelers, was quietly added to Amtrak’s schedule in July.

“We wanted to make sure that we could consistently meet the schedule” before promoting the service later this year, Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Romero said.

Amtrak will not charge more for the service, Ms. Romero said, and at the moment only one roundtrip a day is planned.

Passenger demand statistics for the new service are not yet available, though Acela riders interviewed yesterday at Union Station had mixed opinions.

Andy Demers, who works for an economic consulting firm in the District, said the time saved on the new express service isn’t that big a deal.

“Maybe the 10 minutes makes a difference to some people,” Mr. Demers said as he prepared to board a regular Acela train to New York yesterday morning. “It wouldn’t make a difference to me.”

The new weekday one-stop service leaves New York’s Penn Station at 6:50 a.m., stops in Philadelphia at 7:53 a.m. and arrives at Washington’s Union Station at 9:25 a.m. In the evening, it leaves Washington at 3:55 p.m., stops in Philadelphia at 5:20 p.m. and arrives in New York at 6:30 p.m.

Chas Roades of Virginia, who was headed up to New York yesterday for a sightseeing trip with his 10-year-old son, said Amtrak should add a morning one-stop trip that originates in Washington.

“I don’t think you could get people to pay more for it, but I do think more options [are] better,” Mr. Roades said.

Acela ridership has been on the rise over the past two years amid high gasoline prices and frustrations with rising air travel delays.

In July, 258,000 passengers rode Acela along the Boston-Washington corridor, an increase of 27 percent from last year, according to Amtrak.

Last month’s Acela passenger numbers were nearly double those of July 2005, when the Acela service restarted after a three-month shutdown prompted by the discovery of cracks in many of the trains’ brake discs.

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