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Here we go again... :P

 

From this article in the Baltimore Sun:


Maglev is back, tantalizing Marylanders with the promise of speeds that could whisk train passengers from Baltimore to Washington in 15 minutes.

What is billed as a new generation of magnetic levitation technology is at the heart of the latest proposal, the first step in what would eventually be a line taking passengers from Washington to New York in 60 minutes at a cruising speed of 311 mph.

The proposal resurrects a technology that seemed to be the next big thing in the late 1990s and early 2000s before fizzling out amid concerns over its cost, the difficulty of putting together a suitable route and its potential effect on neighbors.

Many of those hurdles remain, but an investment group headed by a former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and backed by former politicians of both parties is pushing a new version of maglev. The group is seeking financial, community and political support for a project called TNEM — for The Northeast Maglev.

“The technology itself has progressed,” Wayne Rogers, chairman of TNEM and a former state Democratic chairman, said in a presentation to The Baltimore Sun this week. “We as Americans never picked up on it.”

Supporters of the maglev concept have long seen it as a game-changer for Baltimore, bringing the city closer to the capital and making it a more attractive place for businesses that deal with the federal government to locate. The latest proposal includes stops in the city and at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Whether the United States will embrace the project any more warmly than it did in the early 2000s, when then-Mayor Martin O’Malley and others were intrigued by the prospect, is debatable. Even if the technology operates superbly, the project faces numerous obstacles.

Rogers, chairman of the Synergics energy company in Annapolis, estimated that building the Baltimore-D.C. segment alone would require “somewhere north of $10 billion.” But the extensive tunneling that would put more than 30 of its roughly 40 miles underground, avoiding Linthicum and other neighborhoods affected by an earlier plan, could drive the cost higher. By Rogers’ own estimates, tunneling costs alone could reach $4.5 billion to $6 billion.

Unlike past proposals, the TNEM group says it can count on financing from a Japanese government bank, reflecting Tokyo’s eagerness to launch the new superconducting maglev technology — developed by Japan Central Railroad — in the U.S. Northeast Corridor.

 

 

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I still regard maglev as a solution looking for a problem.

Long distances in open country. In Japan they're making their own open country by tunneling under the intervening towns. Pricy, but they need the performance to keep up with the demand.

Here we need high speed light-weight diesel electric multiple units at 125 mph to make the long distances practical while we build up the network. We'll advance once we catch up to the 20th century.

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Speedy D.C.-N.Y. train faces high hurdles

Spearheaded by The Northeast Maglev, the project has backing so far from U.S. and Japanese investors and boasts a high-powered advisory board that is headed by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and includes former Transportation Department secretaries from Republican and Democratic administrations — Mary Peters and Rodney Slater — as well as former Govs. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey.
The plan calls for a line to be built in stages with the first leg constructed between Washington and Baltimore, which includes a stop at BWI Airport. The travel times are eye-popping: Floating inside a U-shaped guideway on ultra-powerful magnets, the superconducting maglev train would reach 311 miles per hour and shuttle riders from Washington to the airport in about eight minutes. That compares with drive times that can easily top an hour in bad traffic.
But such an ambitious goal raises questions about financing, route siting, rights of way and other local concerns. And that doesn’t include the political issues around a line that could present a direct challenge to Amtrak’s crown jewel, its Northeast Corridor service.
Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said he’s “positive” about the plan for the technology, which has been tested on a short track in Japan, but that it faces a number of high hurdles; chief among them are time and money.
“Does it get done in a hurry? No,” Boardman said in an interview. The first leg is projected to take three years just to go through the regulatory process and another seven for construction. And that doesn’t take into account any of the inevitable speed bumps that arise with a major infrastructure undertaking.

 

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Maglev's greatest advantage for US HSR being 100% free of FRA **** impeding it's capability to reach top speed. It's disadvantage is the requirement of special tracks that may be incompatible with existing stations. Improved designs could create highly efficient and ultra fast trains that can be routed directly into existing stations in urban areas while still using their own track. Development of Maglev technology should not be scoffed at as a pipe dream. All that is needed to perfect the technology already exists in archives of forgotten research kept hidden for lack of financial vision.

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Maglev's greatest advantage for US HSR being 100% free of FRA **** impeding it's capability to reach top speed.

Also true of unicorns, teleporters and magic pixie dust.

 

Just about as realistic, too.

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Maglev's greatest advantage for US HSR being 100% free of FRA **** impeding it's capability to reach top speed. It's disadvantage is the requirement of special tracks that may be incompatible with existing stations. Improved designs could create highly efficient and ultra fast trains that can be routed directly into existing stations in urban areas while still using their own track. Development of Maglev technology should not be scoffed at as a pipe dream. All that is needed to perfect the technology already exists in archives of forgotten research kept hidden for lack of financial vision.

The Japanese are planning to build a maglev line. Their system is quite good. It also meets the safety requirements related to evacuation, which the German system (the one used in Shanghai) does not. Japan has a serious capacity problem on their existing Shinkansen line south out of Tokyo which is this line is intended to relieve. One of their comments is that the energy consumption is about three times that of the Shinkansen trains. The maglev line is much straighter.

 

There are several issues other than just FRA. There is this thing called the ADA which definitely does apply to Maglev (see 49 CFR Part 38, 38.175) There is also the NFPA concerning fire safety, emergency egress, etc. Then there are also the basic laws of physics affecting such things as reasonable curve radii, energy consupmtion with increased speed and on grades, aerodynamic resistance, to name a few. (Aerodynamic resistance increases with the square of speed. In other words double the speed and aerodynamc resistance increases by a factor of four. Aerodynamc resistance is already the main component of in train resistance at current high speed rail speeds.) NIMBY resistance is unlikely to go away jsut because it is a maglev instead of regular rail. Neither will cost of construction of structures and tunnels likely decrease jsut because it is maglev instead of regular rail.

 

There is a point with increasing speed that the ability to apply sufficient power to the rail by adhesion meets the resistance of the train to movement. Above that point then something other than wheel on rail adhesion will be needed to go faster. It is just that no one knows where that point is as yet, and 50 years ago that point was thought to be at a lower speed than the current high speed trains run. Until we have alignments that permit that speed, the demand that justifies it and the determination and finance to build the lines that can handle it, Maglev remains a solution looking for a problem.

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20140411_MagLev_article_thumbnail.jpg

JR Tokai's maglev train, seen here running on a test track, can travel as fast as 500kph.

NAGOYA -- Central Japan Railway does not plan to charge licensing fees in the U.S. for technologies for its maglev train, aiming to promote the system for a proposed high-speed rail line between Washington and Baltimore.

The railway operator, known as JR Tokai, hopes to have its magnetic-levitation train chosen for the U.S. government's plan to connect the capital and Boston with a high-speed line spanning about 730km. The proposed 60km link to Baltimore is seen as the first phase.

To help defray the expense, the Japanese government intends to finance half of the estimated construction cost of 1 trillion yen ($9.75 billion) through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

JR Tokai's maglev train uses proprietary technology that keeps the train about 10cm in the air with a magnetic force between onboard superconducting magnets and ground coils. This enables stable operation at a speed of 500kph. The Japanese railway operator would usually charge licensing fees to recoup development costs.

 

 

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A maglev line between Washington and Baltimore makes almost as much sense as flying between Washington and Baltimore.

The intent seems to be, as I understand it, to use a freely-provided WAS-BAL line as a loss leader to sell the US on a WAS-NYP (and, apparently, possibly WAS-BOS) line. Like a lot of project first phases (CAHSR, I'm looking at you), the initial phase really only makes sense as part of a bigger project.

 

Edit: Though I can't help but wonder what the effects of being able to pop between downtown DC and downtown Baltimore in something like 20 minutes would be. Considering that the IOS would need to be priced to fill up a decent number of seats on just a short section...

Edited by Anderson

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The Japanese could offer to build and operate the thing for free and it'd still require the perfect storm politically to give the go-ahead.

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TubularRail would eliminate all of the drawbacks and hurdles of existing technologies.It eliminates the rail entirely, by turning the train into a projectile moved through a network of hoops that can be arranged in unlimited configurations, relating to the needs of the routes. Each hoop can be independently powered, minimizing losses in energy to transmission, and eliminating all but the bare minimum of infrastructure needed to move the train. Its potential to reduce implementation and operation costs, makes it an optimal Maglev system to implement.

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I would still prefer to wait out for the Teleporter :P

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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At the moment we have still not come close to implementing conventional rail networks that reach anywhere near the maximum possible speed in scheduled service. Although we seem to have completely gummed up the use of tilting stock on conventional rail thus far, I do think that could be an area of future development that could benefit US passenger rail. Due to America's growing problems with tackling large scale infrastructure development I'm beginning to realize that new long distance rail lines are probably beyond our capabilities regardless of whatever technology they're based on. Tilting trains on conventional rails haven't done much for us yet but they might be a technology that could maintain the current status quo while providing slightly improved speeds in the future. If you dream much bigger than adding minimal improvements that you start running into problems with financing and politics and our growing reluctance to do anything that might require money earmarked for the military and medical industries.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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Speaking of Japanese Maglev.... Abe inspects maglev train test line with Kennedy.

 

Interestingly....

 

After a briefing on the Tokyo-Nagoya Linear Chuo Shinkansen line project, which is aimed at starting maglev train service in 2027, they boarded a train car together.

So Japan will get its first system in 2027. Which would suggest that by the time anything happens in the US it will be 2057. Clearly nothing the likes of me need to think about. But you younger tykes, better watch out. :)

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At the moment we have still not come close to implementing conventional rail networks that reach anywhere near the maximum possible speed in scheduled service. Although we seem to have completely gummed up the use of tilting stock on conventional rail thus far, I do think that could be an area of future development that could benefit US passenger rail. Due to America's growing problems with tackling large scale infrastructure development I'm beginning to realize that new long distance rail lines are probably beyond our capabilities regardless of whatever technology they're based on. Tilting trains on conventional rails haven't done much for us yet but they might be a technology that could maintain the current status quo while providing slightly improved speeds in the future. If you dream much bigger than adding minimal improvements that you start running into problems with financing and politics and our growing reluctance to do anything that might require money earmarked for the military and medical industries.

Well, ultimately we're probably going to be stuck turning (1) to the private sector in some form or another and (2) to state/local authorities for solutions on a lot of fronts. You won't always get 100% private-sector cost coverage (though you might be able to get close if you can throw in either some development deals or low-interest loans), but I suspect you can get some pretty decent arrangements worked out.

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The transition from rail-maglev I think will happen like the transition from buggy-rail. Ultimately, we will be using maglevs, possibly even replacing air routes since there is no practical limit to terrestrial speeds (you'd need a really really really really long maglev to start worrying about the speed of light!) just challenges (vacuum tubes vs. open-air and acceleration). Washington to Baltimore is not too unreasonable a starting point in my opinion actually. It connects two already closely-bound cities with the fastest link they have ever had. Except maybe the twin-cities, or Chicago and Milwaukee, I really can't think of any other city pairs that are close enough to not be too outrageous a test line, and with enough transit between them that people are "used" to the broad concept.

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CHI-MKE wouldn't be a bad test line...it's actually longer than WAS-BAL (about 90-100 miles vs. <40 miles). It might actually be a better test line if you could somehow get the ROW worked out, given the distance.

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Guest Eugene S

Need to read book titled "The Fight for Maglev" Copyright 2011 by James Powell, Gordon Danby & James Jordon

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