- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Amtrak restored full Acela Express service between New York and Boston yesterday for the first time since the high-speed trains were idled because of mechanical problems two months ago, although service between Washington and New York continues at reduced levels.
Only 12 Acela Express round trips are being run between Washington and New York as some trains undergo repairs to the suspension systems. Normally, 16 Acela Express trains make the round trips.
Meanwhile, Amtrak is using its Metroliner trains to fill in for the missing Acela Express trains. The Metroliners take about 19 minutes longer to travel between Washington and New York. The trains do not operate between New York and Boston.
"We were able to back up Acela Express on the south end with Metroliner service," said Karina Van Veen, Amtrak spokeswoman. "Metroliner service is only between Washington and New York."
In addition to the 12 Acela Express round trips, six other daily round-trip trains between Washington and New York are run by Metroliners.
Round-trip Acela Express fares between Washington and New York cost $314. Metroliner round-trip tickets cost $256.
Acela Express trips take about 2 hours and 40 minutes each way, compared with 2 hours and 59 minutes on Metroliners.
The new schedule will have nine daily departures from both Boston and New York in the mornings and evenings.
The problems resulted from cracks mechanics discovered in the brackets of the side-to-side suspension systems.
"In the weeks that followed, trainset manufacturer Bombardier installed a temporary remedy allowing Acela Express trains to return to service," Amtrak said in a statement. "This remedy was the installation of a thicker version of the bracket in most cases, or the grinding out of superficial cracks in less-serious cases."
A trainset refers to a combination of locomotives and the rail cars they pull. A lawsuit filed by Canadian manufacturer Bombardier Corp. accuses Amtrak of causing any defects by unnecessary design changes. Amtrak says any defects or cost overruns by Bombardier resulted from its own mismanagement.
"We continue on design of a permanent fix," Amtrak said.
The railroad started an advertising campaign yesterday to raise awareness about the new schedule. The Keep Moving ad campaign is targeted at business travelers and stresses amenities, such as telephones and computer jacks, that allow them to conduct business en route.
Amtrak accepted delivery Oct. 3 of its 19th Acela Express trainset from Bombardier. The 20th and final delivery is expected soon, the railroad said.
Amtrak officials refused to accept the 19th trainset this summer, saying the manufacturer had not made all the design modifications the railroad ordered. Amtrak President David Gunn changed his mind after more of the modifications were completed.
The railroad also is recalling 48 furloughed workers to repair and maintain locomotives and rail cars. The trains have been sitting in storage because Amtrak lacked the funds to repair them. The work will be done at Amtrak's Bear, Del., maintenance facility.

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