Amtrak's Acela vs. Regional

First, pics and video from Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are up at Flickr.

And then a question I've been thinking about: now having ridden both the Acela and the Regional, is the Acela worth the extra cost?

That partially depends on how much saving the extra time — an hour and 15 minutes from Washington DC to Boston — is worth to you. But the Acela is worth more than the time you save, I think.

I didn't realize how much smoother it is than the Regional until I actually got on the Regional and felt it rocking and rolling. It seems to get up to higher speeds (the conductor announced we were running at 125 mph at one point on the way to Mystic) and therefore jostle around a lot more between Boston and New York than I've been used to between DC and New York.

On the Acela, you don't really feel the speed. It's quieter than the Regional, with one design flaw exception — the Acela's airline-style overhead luggage bins have actual closing doors with actual closing latches. I'm guessing these are in part to show a classier look than the Regional's open luggage racks, and in part to make sure luggage isn't flying as the train leans into turns. But they're NOISY, with a loud ka-thunk whenever one is closed.

The Acela's business-class (the lowest class offered) seats definitely offered substantially more legroom. But compared to airplane coach seats, the Regional's coach seats are wider and have much more legroom. And the Regional, even at its loudest, is still quieter than an airplane.

And indeed, as I rode home on the Regional yesterday, I was thinking about how it was bouncier and louder than the Acela, and wondering, once you've taken the Acela, how do you go back?

Oh yes, I remembered. The Regional still beats flying, hands down.

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