Inside Amtrak's next-generation Acela train

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HORNELL, N.Y. (WCAX) America is far behind Europe and Asia when it comes to high-speed rail service. Amtrak is hoping to shorten that gap with a new line of Acela trains in 2021.

Inside a sprawling western New York factory, the future of America's high-speed rail is starting to take shape in the same spot where trains have been serviced, built and rehabbed since the 1850s.

They start as just a shell, before some of the 800 who work in this Hornell, New York plant build them into the trains that'll replace Amtrak's aging first-generation high-speed effort -- the Acela.

Former Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson now runs Amtrak.

Reporter Kris Van Kleave: How important to the future of Amtrak is the new Acela?
Richard Anderson: It's incredibly important... It really lays out a clear vision for what short-haul, inter-city passenger rail transportation can do for this country.

The updated Acela trains are faster. They'll hold about 380 people -- that's 25 percent more passengers than the old ones -- and they are designed to tilt as they take turns, allowing them to go faster. Amtrak's most lucrative corridor linking Boston, New York and Washington will see a cut in travel time by at least 15 minutes.

"We've got a position -- Amtrak -- to have a modern product that a millennial wants to get on with high speed Wi-Fi, craft beers and reliable schedules, that beat buses, cars and airplanes," Anderson said.

The new model meets new stronger crash worthiness standards and is designed not to jackknife, guarding against the kind of derailment that killed eight people when Amtrak #188 took a turn too fast near Philadelphia in 2015.

"They're the most modern trains in the world," said Scott Sherin with Alstom, the company behind the new trains.

On the inside, faster Wi-Fi, USB charging in each seat, reading lights, and winged headrests so no one can fall asleep on your shoulder.

The new trains will also allow Amtrak to add more non-stop trips in the Northeast. They are also trying to figure out how to add high-speed service to other parts of the country.