After Impact Study, Northeast Maglev May Build Critical U.S. Corridor
July 15, 2109 (EIRNS)—The Northeast Maglev, the company organizing for the construction of a superconducting magnetic levitation transportation system to operate the 40 miles between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. at speeds in excess of 300 miles per hour—becoming the first commercial maglev system in America—is waiting upon an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which if approved, could assist in producing a positive effect upon the U.S. economy.
A spokesman for Northeast Maglev told EIR on July 10 that it has submitted two possible route alignments, and now the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Rail Administration (FRA) and the Maryland Department of Transportation must complete—and at some point, approve—an EIS that “looks at impacts like transportation effects, air quality, noise and vibration, energy, land use, etc.,” which would ultimately be in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
The project plans to build a superconducting maglev system that runs between Baltimore and Washington, including an intermediate stop at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, in 15 minutes, as opposed to the travel time of 55 to 90 minutes that an automobile would presently take. Some 30 of the 40-mile maglev route would be constructed underground, utilizing tunnels. A Northeast Maglev official stated a few months ago, that would it would operate seven or eight tunnel-boring machines simultaneously to complete the construction task. The company’s website reports that the construction phase would create 74,000 construction jobs, plus 1,500 jobs annually after opening.
The Northeast Maglev Baltimore to Washington phase is part of a larger route, intended to extend from Washington to New York City.
Central to this is Central Japan Railway, which operates Japan’s maglev test facility, as well as the majority of Japan’s high-speed rail Shinkansen trains. In 1966, two American scientists, James Powell and Gordon Danby, working out of Brookhaven National Labs in Upton, New York, invented superconducting maglev. The system uses superconducting magnets for lift and guidance, and modulated AC current to accelerate and decelerate the propulsion of the maglev vehicle. Following Powell and Danby’s publication of their paper explaining their concept design, teams of Japanese engineers and railroad experts visited America to discuss the designs with them. Based on the Powell-Danby inventions, the Japanese built their first-generation maglev system. Through further improvements, the Japanese L0 series superconducting maglev set a test speed record of 375 mph (603 kph) on April 21, 2015.
The Northeast Maglev will use this superconducting maglev technology, under the direction of Central Japan Railway. JR Central, as the company is known, has promised to assist Northeast Maglev “in securing billions of dollars in low-interest Japanese loans to float as much as half the construction costs,” the Baltimore Sun reported on Oct. 25, 2018. It has also offered to waive licensing fees for the use of its technology. When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met President Donald Trump on Feb. 10, 2017, Abe told Trump at a White House press conference, “I’m sure you would appreciate the speed, the comfort and safety with the latest maglev technology from Washington, D.C. to New York ... [in] only one hour.”
Northeast Maglev also seeks financing from the U.S. government for construction costs currently estimated at between $10-$12 billion. It plans, in tandem with JR Central, to build a maglev system from Washington to New York, and then possibly farther north to Boston. Such a transportation system would produce a productive transformation in the U.S. physical economy.