When the new Amtrak Airo trains debut in 2026, travelers will enjoy ergonomic seats, increased ADA accessibility and better views of the scenery passing by outside.
Amtrak recently unveiled renderings of the new Airo trains, scheduled to debut in 2026, offering a sneak peek at what California-based manufacturer Siemens Mobility has been dreaming up for the federally chartered corporation.
The new trains include upgrades like panoramic windows, moveable headrests, bigger tray tables, upgraded lighting and better signage, per a statement from Amtrak. Passengers hoping to grab a bite to eat will dine in the redesigned cafe cars, which will offer new self-service options. Guests traveling in business class will also be able to choose between traveling in single or double seats.
By running at speeds of up to 125 miles per hour and transitioning more quickly between electric and diesel power, the new trains are also expected to reduce travel times. They’re more fuel-efficient and produce 90 percent fewer particulate emissions while using diesel power, according to Amtrak. Some of the trains, such as those that will run up and down the West Coast, where tracks aren’t electrified, will run only on diesel. Others will feature hybrid battery-diesel systems.
“The battery will allow for zero-emission operations while the trains move through the tunnels here in New York City,” Janet Ho, an executive with the New York State Department of Transportation, said at a recent press conference, per Condé Nast Traveler’s Rachel Chang. “Outside the city, the battery will be used to capture and score braking energy to provide acceleration boosts when exiting other stations.”
The new Airo trains are part of Amtrak’s broader $7.3 billion initiative to upgrade its infrastructure and equipment. Under that plan, the company awarded Siemens Mobility a $3.4 billion contract to design and build 73 new train sets.
The agreement with Siemens, which also includes maintenance and technical support for 20 years, is one of Amtrak’s largest investments in its 51-year lifespan, reports the Washington Post’s Luz Lazo.
“These new trains will reshape the future of rail travel by replacing our aging 40-to-50-year-old fleet with state-of-the-art, American-made equipment,” said Bill Flynn, Amtrak’s now-retired CEO, in a statement last year.
Funding for the new trains, however, is a bit murky. According to the Washington Post, Congress has authorized just $200 million for the plan so far. Amtrak officials are hopeful that more money will come from the infrastructure bill that passed last year.
Workers at Siemens’ plant in Sacramento are currently building the first car shell. Once complete, the new trains will begin running in the Cascades Corridor of the Pacific Northwest. From there, they’ll start appearing on routes across the country. By 2031, Amtrak plans to replace roughly 40 percent of its fleet, which includes cars that have been running for 50 years.
In addition to the new Airo trains, Amtrak is also working with French manufacturer Alstom to build 28 new high-speed trains for the premium Acela service that runs through the busy Northeast Corridor. Amtrak expects those trains to start operating next year.