Amtrak Acela: The Challenge of High-Speed Passenger Rail Service

Amtrak Acela: The Challenge of High-Speed Passenger Rail Service

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  • Teaching Notes
Abstract

In August of 2002, maintenance workers find fractured locomotive brackets and brake discs on Amtrak’s high-speed Acela line between Washington and Boston. As a result, the Acela is taken out of service for three years and Amtrak continues to lose money and struggle with funding for everything from infrastructure maintenance to passenger service amenities. CEO David Gunn is faced with the most critical circumstances in the 34-year history of the troubled passenger rail service. While Japanese and European high-speed train services continue their profitable operations, the United States has yet to devise a model that works. Brand strategy and building trust are at the center of the challenge for Amtrak.

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