Dec. 11 is going to be a big day for Amtrak. If the schedule holds, that will be the day when the railroad's first new high-speed Acela Express train starts revenue service in the Northeast Corridor.

"High speed" means capable of 150 mph. In real life, the new equipment will only attain that velocity on some stretches between New York and Boston, near Hartford, Conn. Between New York and Washington, the new trains will max out at 135 for now, about 10 mph faster than the Metroliner equipment they replace.

But enough about speed. Trains are not really about speed. They're about time.

Sometime next year, Amtrak will offer a product it's never had before: nonstop service between New York and Washington. Yeah, it's about time.

With apologies to everything in between, that means no Newark; no Trenton, N.J.; no Philadelphia; no Wilmington, Del., no Baltimore. It means midtown to Capitol Hill in two hours and 28 minutes, without leaving the ground. Welcome, Amtrak, to the 21st century.

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New York vs. New York

Suppose they gave a World Series and nobody came?

The early and inimitable word from some New Yorkers was: Fuhgeddaboudit, it's our party, and besides, the hotels are full already.

New York hotel rates are nearly three times the national average, and still the city is taking occupancy rates where they've never gone before. It's a problem many visitors bureaus would like to have.

We love New York (how can you be in the travel business and not love New York?), but we worry.

If you're a city, and if chance and circumstance give you an opportunity to open your doors to the world for a special event, it'd be nice if they had a place to stay already.

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