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Amtrak to test trains at high speed

Acela trains may one day operate at speeds up to 160 miles per hour. The current speed limit is 150.

Robert F. Bukaty/associated press/file 2011

Acela trains may one day operate at speeds up to 160 miles per hour. The current speed limit is 150.

TRENTON, N.J. — Amtrak is going to break the speed limit in the Northeast Corridor. The rail service said Monday that it will operate test trains overnight at 165 miles per hour in four stretches from Maryland to Massachusetts.

Acela Express equipment will be used for the tests, which were to start at about 10:30 p.m. Monday in New Jersey and will continue into next week, Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said.

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All the locations may one day have regular 160 mile-per-hour service; the current speed limit is 150.

Amtrak said tests need to be performed at 5 miles per hour above what is expected to be the maximum speed.

Two test locations — from Perryville, Md., to Wilmington, Del., and from Trenton to New Brunswick, N.J. — currently have a speed limit of 135 miles per hour. The two others — in Rhode Island from Westerly to Cranston and in Massachusetts from South Attleboro to Readville — have 150 mile-per-hour limits.

The same areas, totaling just over 100 miles, were used for tests reaching 165 miles per hour in the 1990s, before the introduction of Acela service, Cole said. Federal regulations required another round of testing, he said, to further raise the top speed limit.

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