Q: How loud is the SCMAGLEV?
A: Unlike traditional trains, the SCMAGLEV does not use steel wheels and rails, catenaries, or diesel engines, three of the major factors that contribute to train noise. At high speeds, the SCMAGLEV levitates using electromagnetic forces, and has no contact with its guideway. These factors keep the SCMAGLEV’s noise impacts to a minimum. Tunneled sections of the route produce no noise at ground level. Noise in above ground sections is limited to the sound of air being displaced by the train’s high speed.
Q: Does the SCMAGLEV system generate perceptible ground vibration?
A: No, the SCMAGLEV system does not generate perceptible ground vibration. According to measurements taken during a rigorous environmental study in Japan, ground vibration generated by the SCMAGLEV is so low that it is not perceptible to humans.
Q: Are the magnetic fields generated by the SCMAGLEV dangerous?
A: SCMAGLEV has been approved as safe for humans and the environment, meeting strict magnetic field exposure guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). As part of the EIS process and the FRA’s review for safe train operation, magnetic fields and potential impacts will be evaluated in the EIS and by the FRA’s Office of Safety.
Q: The train will not be an environmental benefit as it will use electricity produced by traditional means, namely coal and natural gas fired power plants.
A: As the SCMAGLEV is designed for efficiency, it makes highly efficient use of the electricity used. In fact, the SCMAGLEV uses considerably less energy per seat / mile than traditional high-speed rail, air, and automobiles. Calculations show a yearly decrease of over 2,000,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the Baltimore / Washington DC region as a result of decreased vehicle miles traveled — and this estimate also accounts for average air emissions from electricity generated in Maryland with fossil fuel sources!
Q: This project will use a considerable amount of concrete which is not environmentally friendly.
A: The main environmental concern with concrete is that production of cement (a component of concrete) generates greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, there is a large amount of academic and industrial research taking place currently to develop and standardize an environmentally friendly alternative to cement. Current research looks promising and we’re hopeful that a carbon neutral (or even carbon negative!) concrete will be in standard use by the time we are ready to start construction.
We’re also hoping to use Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) principles in as much of our station, facility, and infrastructure design as we can.