Trains Are Beating Planes on Intercity Rotes

Amtrak’s Acela Express high-speed train has taken majority of market.


Travellers fed up by the hassles of air travel are flocking to use a high-speed alternative on the popular route between New York and Boston – the Acela Express.
In precisely 10 years of service, Amtrak’s high-speed trains on the route have captured more than 50% of the route’s busy air and rail market. But this isn’t enough for Amtrak, which is now aiming to take all of the passengers travelling between the two cities.
The rail operator is investing heavily in advertising. A TV ad says that on the train you can “take off your shoes only if you feel like it” – a reference to airports’ annoying security measures.
A transport report says that by 2040, train speeds will reach 350 kilometres per hour, cutting the travel time between the two cities from 3½ hours to just 83 minutes. Amtrak says that by then nobody will want to fly.
“We’ve designed a product for the business travellers’ needs, and we’re trying to reach them at the most relevant points of their travel experience,” said the operator’s chief marketing officer.
Amtrak currently transports 55% of passengers in the Boston-New York air-rail market. The Acela Express carried 3.2 million passengers in the fiscal year ending in September 2010.
Fares are similar, with Boston-New York return tickets costing $200 to $300 on Acela and about $300 on the airlines, if booked in advance.
Travel times are already faster by train when including security lines and having to arrive at the airport in good time. The trains also offer free Wi-Fi, which is still unavailable on US Airways shuttles. However, the bus route is also fiercely competitive.
The Boston Globe


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