U.S. Maglev System One Step Closer

Ron Swaren is a regular commenter on Portland Transport.

Michael Barkoviak – June 9, 2008 5:50 AM

“President Bush signed a transportation bill that will help fund a high speed maglev train between Disneyland and Las Vegas. The initial $45M investment will be used for environmental studies to evaluate construction impact on one portion of the proposed maglev route.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., showed support of the project and said the maglev train “will safely and efficiently move people between southern California and Las Vegas.”

As more nations begin to roll out maglev train systems, critics in the U.S. grow increasingly frustrated over the lack of support of organized high speed trains in the United States.

With speeds up to 300 MPH, the maglev train will be able to transport passengers between the two locations, about 250 miles apart, in less than two hours. Most drivers who go from the Los Angeles or Anaheim area to Las Vegas are forced to take Interstate 15, but the highway routinely is clogged with gridlock during rush hour.

Congress must now choose the maglev system over other train projects under consideration by the government, including a diesel-electric train that was proposed after a 2005 funding mishap that delayed the Disneyland-Las Vegas line. Japan was the first nation to launch a diesel-hybrid train system, but the train was twice as expensive to build as a regular train.

The United States Maglev Coalition (USMC) is an organization wanting to develop maglev technology in the U.S. The group helped the federal government fix a September 2005 report that “unfairly and erroneously criticized maglev’s costs while ignoring its benefits.”

Maglev trains are extremely expensive to create, so $45M could easily lead to a multi-billion dollar investment. The Shanghai maglev train network cost almost $30M per mile to create, and a proposed route in Japan is estimated to cost up to $82B to complete.

Germany, Canada, England, China and Japan are included in the small selection of countries that either have working maglev systems or are testing maglev technology.”

Link to Daily Tech article:

Some YouTube videos:

Some people say that the US should just hang back and learn from the experimentation being conducted by other governments, as mentioned above. Critics of the LA-Las Vegas route question the propriety of investing public funds into what they consider an “entertainment express.” There are, however, some proposals in the Northeast US for Mag Lev service.
Some cost projections run up to $30 million per mile for the specialized track. Acquiring right of way could add significant expense. What flaws will actual usage of the technology reveal?

Or would an alternative like the proposed California high speed train make more sense?

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