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Train travel is getting faster-at least on Amtrak’s Boston-New York-Washington, D.C., route. Amtrak recently unveiled an ultramodern high-speed train that will service the Northeast corridor. The new train, called Acela, will begin operation at the end of the year. Amtrak plans to introduce the trains in the Midwest as well.
These high-speed trains cut travel time from Boston to the Big Apple from four and a half hours to just three. And the New York-D.C. commute is more than 15 minutes shorter. Targeted at the business traveler, the trains feature power jacks, meeting tables, special check-in service and concierge service. The trains have four coaches, a first-class car and a cafe car. One-way trips cost $130 to $140 between New York and Boston or D.C., vs. $114 for the Metroliner fare.
Amtrak also introduced European style cars on its Pacific Northwest route. The Cascade cars use modern “tilt technology” to approach curves without reducing speed. In addition, they feature special axles and shock absorbers to create a nearly bump-free ride. These trains are capable of traveling up to 110 mph but outdated infrastructure limits them to 79 mph. Amtrak plans to update its 30-year-old track and signal system. When completed in 2018, these improvements will reduce travel time between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, from three and a half to two and a half hours.
Kids get busy
Washington, D.C.’s Children’s Concierge can help turn your next business trip into a family getaway. Sandra Dee Hoffman and her team of educators, psychologists and museum professionals organize self-guided, customized tours for each family member, including children ages two through 13. “For children, we make each sight an interactive experience. Kids may participate in their own scavenger hunt or design clothes for the historic statues they’ll see,” notes Hoffman. Each child gets a customized booklet and backpack filled with art supplies, a disposable camera, books, a journal, puzzles and more. “Also, if you’re going to a Renoir exhibit, for example, we’ll send over books on Renoir to your hotel for you and the kids.” Whenever possible, the company will arrange for your own personal tour guide.
If you’re stuck in meetings, Children’s Concierge can get a sitter (for an extra fee) to take your child around town. And they’ll help arrange an adult’s night out. Children’s Concierge costs $55 per person for the first day. After that, parents pay nothing and it’s $55 per child per day. Children’s Concierge is planning to open in San Diego, New Orleans and Memphis, Tennessee. During the summer, they’re on site at D.C.’s Embassy Suites Downtown and Embassy Suites Old Town Alexandria.