Congress Considering Supporting Magnetic Levitation Train That Can Travel from New York to Washington in One Hour

Central Japan Railway’s seven-car maglev — short for “magnetic levitation” — train returns to the station after setting a new world speed record in a test run near Mount Fuji, clocking more than 600 kilometres (373 miles) an hour on April 21, 2015. The new record came less than a week after the company clocked 590kph, by breaking its own 2003 record of 581 kph. (Photo credit: JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

A futuristic floating train along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor could get a $150 million boost from Congress to complement $5 billion in support from Japan.

The first leg of the magnetic levitation, or maglev, train is planned from Washington to Baltimore, with a stop at BWI Marshall Airport. Traveling at 311 miles per hour, the trip would be cut to 15 minutes from more than 30 on Amtrak’s Acela express service.

Longer term, project sponsors envision reaching New York or even Boston to alleviate congestion along a route with delays that cost the economy $500 million per year in lost productivity. Passengers could travel between New York and Washington in just 60 minutes.

The technology is being pushed by Central Japan Railway Co. and its American affiliate, Baltimore Washington Rapid Rail. The project is also supported by Maryland, and the government of Japan has offered to fund half of its $10 billion cost.

The $150 million that would be provided under the House Transportation-Housing and Urban Development appropriations measure for fiscal 2019 would be the first time in a decade that Congress has set funds aside for a maglev.

Floating Cars

Superconducting magnetic levitation trains float cars above the ground, eliminating the friction of steel tracks. The trains start off running on wheels until they’re going fast enough for the magnets to kick in and create lift.

While President Donald Trump didn’t request any money for a maglev train in his fiscal 2019 budget, the project would be in line with the administration’s infrastructure principles, where strategic federal investment would leverage funding from local governments and private companies. After meeting Trump last year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he expected the administration would advance the project.

“Japan can contribute to the president’s growth strategy through this kind of technology,” said Abe.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Bloomberg, Sarah Babbage