I would be much more excited if they were releasing a RFP instead of a RFI.
I would also prefer to see Amtrak refurbishing its NEC tracks before buying new faster train sets. The slow tracks they have will also force faster trains to run slower, as they are forcing Acela slow downs now.
For major orders such as this, an RFI is a a necessary step before issuing a RFP. Need to see which vendors are interested and what they may have to offer, before releasing a RFP and the specs. I doubt if a RFP would be released before 2014, too many issues to resolve first.
If Amtrak waits until the entire NEC is "refurbished" or fully modernized, they would never issue an RFP for Acela 2s. Amtrak is leaving revenue on the table with the sold out Acelas and inability to meet the market demand. Upgrade the NEC where possible, but order the Acela 2s to bring in the additional revenue to provide more money for NEC and Amtrak system improvements. The major takeaway from this is that Amtrak is issuing an RFI without waiting for funding approval from Congress for an Acela 2 order first. Amtrak might - or should - ask for equipment order direct funding in the FY2014 budget, but may be prepared to place an order for Acela 2s without specific funding from Congress. That would be a significant moment if it plays out that way.