Learn about Amtrak's Acela
Amtrak's Acela

Acela An Amtrak Train: Washington, D.C. to Boston

Amtrak’s Acela runs several dial trains between Washington, DC, and the Boston South Station. Along the route, the train can reach speeds of 150 mph! This article will provide the basics of this train and its schedule.

A video of me riding an Amtrak Acela train

The Amtrak Acela offers business and first-class seating instead of the standard coach class.

I love that you get your seat assignment after completing the booking process, and you can change it for free before boarding.

Please note that your seat options become limited as the boarding time approaches.

If you have a business-class ticket, you can change your reservation to a seat in the Quiet Car.

Acela has a cafe car for business class passengers and at-seat food service for first class.

The Travels with Kev Amtrak Acela Podcast

What sets Amtrak’s Acela apart from other Northeast Corridor (NEC) Trains?

The Acela trainsets feature a unique design where the locomotives and all the cars are semi-permanently joined together. Each end of the train has power cars, and the train is designed to tilt on curves, enabling it to travel faster and smoother.

These trains also have fewer stops, allowing them to pass stations.

Regional and long-distance trains on the NEC

Amtrak Siemens ACS-64
An Amtrak NEC regional train waits for passengers to leave Washington, DC.

All non-Acela trains run slower and often make stops along the route than the Acela.

Regional trains are the cheapest but offer less comfort than Acela. They offer coach, business, and cafe cars.

Regional and long-distance trains combine several cars to make up a train set. If one of these cars needs work, Amtrak can remove it and substitute it with another.

The Acela train sets

On the other hand, Acela is a semi-permanent train, so if one car is “bad,” the whole is out. These semi-permanent trainsets allow for a smoother ride and for the train to tilt so they can take curves faster and safer.

The Acela route numbers are 2100-2290.

Amtrak Acela accommodations

Amtrak’s Acela offers two accommodation options: Business Class and First Class. Seats face both ways so that you can ride backward.

Acela does not offer a checked-bag service.

Business Class

Business class seats are in a two-and-two configuration and are the base accommodation for this train.

This class offers:

  • Reserved seating offers free seat changes at any time before boarding if available.
  • There are fewer stops than most NEC trains, so a faster trip.
  • Each seat has electrical outlets plus trays or conference tables.
  • Adjustable lighting and large tray tables
  • Overhead bins and a luggage rack
  • You receive your seat assignment at booking, which you can change before boarding if open seats are available.

Quiet car – part of business class

The Amtrak Quiet Car is a magical place if others play well.

Amtrak Quiet Car
A Quiet Car sign from a Midwest train

These cars are where you do not hear cell phones or conversations; any conversations are in a library-type atmosphere and short.

Anything that rings or pings should be silent or vibrate; headphones are mandatory for anything that makes noise.

From my experience with Midwest quiet cars, I know they are self-policing, and other passengers may remind others to be silent. I may have reminded people of the rules in the past.

While Acela’s Quiet Car is not an option when you book your trip, you can easily change your reservations for free with this car.

First Class

Acela first class offers everything the business class does (but there is no first-class Quiet Car) and more! First-class seating choices include 2 x 2 or 1 x 2, and both have the option of tables so you can sit across from someone.

Acela train layout

Seat map for Amtrak's Acela
Seat map for Amtrak’s Acela

How to change seats on Amtrak’s Acela

As you learned from the last section, Amtrak’s Acela has assigned seats, and you can make your reservation for free online or in the app.

Amtrak first class seat
Amtrak first-class car seating

As a reminder, if you want a seat in the Quiet Car, you need to make that change; the sooner, the better, because seats are first come, first served. That is true for any seat you want.

Where Can You Make Seat Changes?

You can easily make changes by logging into Amtrak’s website or app.

When you select to change seats, Amtrak displays what’s available (similar to that of an airline), then pick the spot that makes you happy and hit save. You will get an updated ticket emailed to you, and the app will update when it refreshes.

Food Service on the Acela

Food service on this train can depend on your class.

Business Class Food Options

Anyone on the train can use the Acela Cafe car; food and drinks in this car are not complimentary. The cafe car has places to enjoy your purchase, or you can return them to your seat.

You can also bring food and drinks onto the train, but you should purchase alcoholic beverages on the train. You can not consume the alcohol you brought on the train. Due to FDA regulations, you may not bring outside food or drink into the cafe car, as with all Amtrak trains.

First Class Food Options

Amtrak's Acela First Class breakfast
Amtrak Acela First Class breakfast

You have an at-seat service if you are in Acela’s First Class. An attendant can bring you a complimentary meal and drinks.

First-class passengers can use the Acela cafe car to eat something else.

Acela meals come on a tray containing “real” dishes and silverware with a cloth napkin.

Meal choices include breakfast in the morning, with lunch and dinner sharing the same offerings. Drinks include adult, soft, caffeinated, plus water. Besides rotating menus, Amtrak can change its choices at any time.

The meal choices rotate around every three weeks.

Wi-Fi on Amtrak’s Acela

Amtrak offers complimentary Wi-Fi geared for this train set. Some tunnels and spots could cause the Wi-Fi to blip or have short dead zones. The internet on this train is better than that of other Amtrak trains.

Perks of Acela’s First Class

People standing by the door to the Metropolitan lounge Washington DC
Metropolitan Lounge Entrance Washington DC

As stated before, Acela First Class includes a meal and drinks, but it has more, depending on where you start.

Amtrak's First Class Acela and Sleeper passenger Lounge in Philadelphia
Amtrak’s Acela First Class and Sleeper Passenger Lounge Philadelphia

You can use the Metropolitan Lounge if your adventure starts at one of the following stations.

  • Washington DC
  • Boston South
  • New York Penn
  • Philadelphia

These lounges give you priority boarding or early track access, snacks and beverages, and more.

The stops of Amtrak’s Acela

Acela serves fifteen stations along the NEC.

If viewing on a mobile device, you may need to hit the download button to view the schedule.

Pets on Amtrak’s Acela

Small dogs or cats can go on Amtrak’s Acela along with you as you ride the train. Before you go, check what types of pets are allowed, pet reservations and fares, approved pet carriers, and additional details.

If you want to take your pet aboard, check Amtrak’s carry-on pet policy.

If you have a service or comfort animal, check Amtrak’s service animal policy before booking and leaving for the station to ensure your critter qualifies. Amtrak knows this critter will be on their train and has a reservation to do so.

Amtrak’s Acela wrap-up

While boarding an Amtrak train is similar, a few things are different. Some stations have marks on the platform where you should wait so you are lined up for your car and reduce loading time.

Why pick Acela?

Amtrak's Acela First Class and Sleeper Passenger Lounge Philadelphia
Boarding Amtrak’s Acela Business Class

Often, Acela is the faster option, so if time is a factor in your adventure, this could be a great reason to take this train. In sections, the train goes 150 mph. Besides speed, comfort is the other reason. These trainsets offer more legroom, better luggage space, and more comfort with a smoother ride as you roll down the tracks than traditional Amtrak equipment.

It can be faster than flying! Many train stations are in the city’s heart, whereas airports are not. Also, you do not have to go through security, so if you include the time to go to the airport, get through security, and then go to the heart of your destination, flying could take longer.

Why Shouldn’t You Pick Amtrak’s Acela?

If you are on a budget and the compromise of a smoother ride does not fit, another train may fit your budget better. Also, Acela may not go where you need to go.

If you are on the NEC, you may find that a local or regional train may be more economical, but Amtrak’s NEC trains offer more comfort and amenities, even if they are not in Acela.

Future of Acela Trainsets

New Acela train sets are already being tested and visible in Washington, DC. They will enter revenue service soon.

Thanks for visiting, and safe travels!


Kevin Monteith

Kev Monteith has been traveling on Amtrak since 2012. With over a decade of experience, he has been on over 800 trains, covering over 200k miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by providing support and information. Outside of travel, Kev enjoys making music as an organist and outings with family.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. TheJeepDiva Blog

    As a frequent Amtrak passenger, I found this guide to be incredibly helpful! I’ve been using the Acela for work trips and it’s been a game-changer for me. The high-speed rail has made traveling between cities so much faster and more convenient. I especially appreciated the section on ticket booking and the tips for maximizing your travel experience. Thank you for sharing this valuable information! 🚂👍

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.