BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The possibility of a high-tech, superspeed train between Baltimore and DC got a small step closer to reality Monday. A company that wants to bring magnetic levitation trains to the US opened a brand new office in downtown Baltimore.
Derek Valcourt spoke with representatives of the company about their efforts to bring this new technology to Maryland.
They say having an office right here in downtown Baltimore will help as they try to overcome a lot of major hurdles and get this project on the right track.
These aren’t your grandfather’s kinds of trains. At speeds of more than 300 miles per hour, Japanese magnetic levitation trains, called MAGLEV, use super-cooled magnets to levitate the trains, virtually eliminating the friction.
Governor Larry Hogan became a fan after he and his wife took a ride during a recent visit to Japan.
“Even more impressive than I expected it to be. Seeing is believing,” he said.
Now there’s an effort by the Northeast MAGLEV Company to bring that technology to the East Coast. The plan would be to start small: showcasing the MAGLEV technology in the US with a $12 billion project that would include tunneling underground, first from Washington to Baltimore. That trip would take just 15 minutes. The next step: expand up to New York, which would take riders another 45 minutes.
“The biggest beneficiary of this MAGLEV train in the whole Northeast corridor is going to be Baltimore,” said Wayne Rogers.
Rogers is the CEO of Northeast MAGLEV. He showed us their new US headquarters in a once-vacant downtown building. They plan to spend the next three years pushing the MAGLEV through a long government approval process. But the real challenge will be paying for construction—but Rogers says the Japanese government is already willing to cover half the costs.
“Then I think the federal government could be presented with something that says, `Here’s an idea, it’s already approved, it’s half-funded and let’s just get on board the train and we can build this,'” Rogers said.
But the MAGLEV trains are still a long way from reality. Even if they get the money and the approval they need here in the US, it would still be more than a decade until the superspeed trains would be up and running between DC and Baltimore.
The US High Speed Rail Association says the US would be better investing in other high speed train systems that can share the existing train track infrastructure rather than spend money on MAGLEV, which needs its own new rail lines.