Perhaps spurred-on by all the recent talk of Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept for the west coast of the United States, a previous proposal for a super-fast maglev (magnetic levitation) train in the heavily populated northeast has been updated, despite the previous lack of political support.
Northeast Maglev (TNEM), and American company funded by a Japanese government bank, has revealed a renewed plan for a maglev train that would carry passengers between Washington D.C. and New York City in just one hour. There is currently a maglev train in development for a route between Nagoya and Tokyo in Japan, so the project is certainly possible.
Maglev trains operate by levitating on a bed of air, using electromagnetic coils on the track. The forces between the powerful magnets on the track and train allow the train to levitate and travel very smoothly at incredible speeds (see real-world demo video here).
The updated maglev project plans on utilizing tunnels to iron out curves that were seen as a significant issue in a previous proposal. Curves in the track would slow down the train and consequently make the journey longer. However, constructing tunnels would also make the project more expensive. The cost of first leg of the route between Washington D.C. and Baltimore is estimated to be around $10 billion.
Another issue with previous proposals was the “low passenger projections” for such a train. It should be noted that recently we reported that China’s new and growing high-speed train network, after a slow start, now carries twice as many passengers as airlines domestically. Do you think enough people would use a high-speed train like this in the northeast United States?