The Northeast Regional is a fast Amtrak train in the northeast corridor between Boston and Washington DC. There is daily all-reserved service nearly every hour, with more trains running from New York City to Washington than run north to Boston. The Regional makes only certain stops and thus is distinct from slower local trains. The train takes about 7.5-8 hours to travel from Washington to Boston. Amtrak owns the tracks and these trains are Amtrak’s most profitable. Branches powered by diesels extend to Springfield, Massachusetts and south of Washington DC to Richmond, Newport News, Norfolk, and Lynchburg, Virginia.
After the “blue splotch” paint scheme used on the Acela Regional between 2000 and 2003, the Amfleet cars were repainted in the then standard phase IV scheme with a large blue band and red and white pinstripes. In the late 2000s, the Amtrak “wave” logo was added to the blue band, and to the locomotives somewhat earlier. Start dates when the various phases of paint schemes began are usually well documented, but the delay in repainting old cars adds uncertainty and variability to the appearance of trains. A set of photos of actual trains will help in duplicating a certain era. To update this train for its post-2009 appearance, use phase IVb (VI) cars with the “wave” logo.
The most common electric locomotive in the northeast corridor is the AEM-7 built by Asea-EMD (see prototype photo below). Amtrak acquired about 53 AEM-7s in the 1980s. Less common (14 were bought in 2000-2001 from Bombardier) is the HHP-8, which is streamlined with a slant nose like the Acela locomotive. Unfortunately, a model of the AEM-7 is not made in N-scale, but Bachmann makes a model of the HHP-8.
Trains usually have 6-10 cars with the business class car in the front and the café car somewhere in the middle. The coaches were rebuilt Amfleet I cars (two doors per side), originally built by the Budd company in 1975. Amfleet II cars (one door per side) were acquired starting in 1981, though many of the amfleet II coaches are configured for long distance trains. Coaches can also have their chairs configured for long or short distance. Trains had a mixture of the two coach types, but this model train has only Amfleet I cars made by Bachmann. Amfleet II cars (made by Kato) in the same phase IV paint scheme could also be used.
A Northeast regional train in northern New Jersey in 2005. The locomotive is an AEM-7 in the phase V paint scheme with the wave logo added in the early 2000s. The coaches and cafes are Amfleet cars in phase IV or IVb (VI) paint, the latter if they have a wave logo.
An HHP-8 electric locomotive leading the Silver Star at Wilmington, Deleware, on May 13, 2006. Although this is not the Northeast Regional, it shows an HHP-8 after the Acela logo was removed and cars in phase IV livery in the same epoch as the model train. Photo by David Warner.
Alternate power used north of Boston or south of Washington DC
The diesel power used outside the electrified northeast corridor is most commonly a P42 like this Kato model in phase IV paint.
Northeast Regional, the whole train
The HHP-8 locomotive in this train pulls a string of 6 Amfleet I coaches and an Amfleet I café car. The HHP-8 model is made by Bachmann as are the Amfleet cars. After the 2003 start date of this train, the Acela logo was removed from the prototype fleet, but I left the logo on my model. Bachmann made the “coach” and “café” lettering too large, but the interior lighting is bright and reliable. I added body-mounted Microtrains couplers to the coaches.
Solomon, Brian, Amtrak, MBI Railroad Color History, MBI publishing, 2004.
Amtrak by the numbers, by David Warner and Elbert Simon, White River productions, 2011. An excellent guide with thorough car histories and hundreds of photographs.