Amtrak to test 165 mph trains

Amtrak will test running trains on its Acela line at higher speed this week, the company said. 

Acela trains currently have a maximum speed of 150 miles per hour, but Amtrak said Monday it would run empty trains in four places on the route at 165 miles per hour. 

The tests will allow the company to evaluate the possible of increasing the speed of the trains to 160 miles per hour, Amtrak said. 

"The tests will utilize high-speed Acela Express equipment and will measure the interaction between the train and the track, rider quality and other safety factors," the company said in a news release. 

The areas for the tests are a 21-mile stretch between Perryville, Md., and Wilmington, Del., a 22-mile railway between Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., that currently has a maximum speed limit of 135, a 29-mile area between Westerly and Cranston, R.I., and a span of 27 miles between South Attleboro and Readville, Mass., that current tops out at 150 miles per hour.

Despite the fast limits, Republicans in the House have often criticized Amtrak's Acela service for not achieve "true" high speeds. Because the trains share tracks with Amtrak's regular service, Acela routes run as slow as 80 miles per hour in some places in the Northeast.

Amtrak has told lawmakers it has a plan to increase the speed of its trains to 220 miles per hour by 2040, but Republicans have derided the plan as unrealistic.