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Ziv

DC to Baltimore MagLev one step closer to approval?

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I thought this was way down on the "maybe someday" list, but WTOP seems to think that the funding is mostly in place and that this 15 minute from DC to Baltimore MagLev train is actually going to happen. It accelerates to 300+ mph in just 3 minutes and may make just one stop at BWI. It is approximately a 40 mile trip with BWI about 13 miles south of Baltimore, so if the train stops at BWI on every trip it won't get up to full speed for very long on the northern leg.

They also mention that the group that is working on it wants to extend the line all the way to New York, but that wouldn't start until 2030 or 2035.

Japan International Bank is mentioned as being on board to provide 50% of the construction cost.

Construction to start in 2019, according to the article.

 

http://wtop.com/dc-transit/2017/04/fastest-train-in-the-world-will-run-between-dc-and-baltimore/slide/3/

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Maybe I'll be proven wrong at some point, but I just can't see this actually happening. Washington-Baltimore makes almost no sense for a standalone maglev line and a Washington-New York line is exceedingly impractical when the legacy/standard rail lines are not running at capacity (except for the Hudson River tunnels for a relatively short period of time on weekdays). Either this project faces the same extreme cost bloat that affects far too many US rail/transit projects (we can't seem to build for normal First World costs) or if not, then this group should be hired for their expertise in normal-cost building to improve the existing rail network.

 

I'd much rather that the public funds used for maglev studies had been redirected into improving a few rail stations instead. The US struggles to get standard intercity/regional/commuter rail right. Until we manage to figure that out, let other countries worry about studying maglev lines.

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I agree, Eric, this just doesn't seem like a good candidate for the expense of a MagLev train. A city pair that is 100-300 miles apart would seem to work so much better. Maybe the Japanese bank figures that this is a way to get the camels nose under the tent, and then they can build on this start to build demand for other projects in the US? Because ponying up $5Bn to $6Bn is not chump change, but a longer distance between the city pairs would increase the price pretty quickly.

It would be cool to see it happen, but I am not holding my breath. But it sounds like Governor Hogan is taking it seriously.

Edited by Ziv

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Maybe I'll be proven wrong at some point, but I just can't see this actually happening. Washington-Baltimore makes almost no sense for a standalone maglev line and a Washington-New York line is exceedingly impractical when the legacy/standard rail lines are not running at capacity (except for the Hudson River tunnels for a relatively short period of time on weekdays). Either this project faces the same extreme cost bloat that affects far too many US rail/transit projects (we can't seem to build for normal First World costs) or if not, then this group should be hired for their expertise in normal-cost building to improve the existing rail network.

 

 

(Hand raised) I got a good compromise between WAS-BAL and WAS-NYP. WAS-PHL anyone? :)

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Still no.

 

Stay away from this gadgetbahn foolishness. Let's focus on upgrading and improving the existing rail services, adding bypasses of slow or congested segments, try to get closer to global best practices (both in terms of construction and operations).

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Still no.

 

Stay away from this gadgetbahn foolishness. Let's focus on upgrading and improving the existing rail services, adding bypasses of slow or congested segments, try to get closer to global best practices (both in terms of construction and operations).

Yes, a Maglev between Washington and Baltimore is foolishness. Someone is making money promoting it. Not going to happen.

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Still no.

 

Stay away from this gadgetbahn foolishness. Let's focus on upgrading and improving the existing rail services, adding bypasses of slow or congested segments, try to get closer to global best practices (both in terms of construction and operations).

Yes, a Maglev between Washington and Baltimore is foolishness. Someone is making money promoting it. Not going to happen.
It's foolish, but Japan is willing to stake very real money into it. They're gambling that once we begin with the technology, we'll want to buy more of it (and thus they'll make money).

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Still no.

 

Stay away from this gadgetbahn foolishness. Let's focus on upgrading and improving the existing rail services, adding bypasses of slow or congested segments, try to get closer to global best practices (both in terms of construction and operations).

Yes, a Maglev between Washington and Baltimore is foolishness. Someone is making money promoting it. Not going to happen.
It's foolish, but Japan is willing to stake very real money into it. They're gambling that once we begin with the technology, we'll want to buy more of it (and thus they'll make money).
Japan would have to fund 100% of the construction costs. No way they will get billions from Maryland. Or the federal government. Then there is that building anything in Maryland, they would have to do environmental studies. There would be Nimby opposition. Can't even get the Purple Line built. Years of lawsuits. The trains would have to be built in America. So they would need a factory and skilled labor. If it were built who would operate it? Who will pay the operating and maintenance costs. Who would ride it only to BWI and Baltimore? WTOP, who listens to them anymore anyway. Most have been a slow news day. They bought some cheap PR. Foolishness. Edited by Hal

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WTOP, who listens to them anymore anyway.

 

46gDD.gif

 

Traffic and weather on the 8's! It's always good to know what driver is upside down or in the bushes while traveling! ^_^

Edited by Thirdrail7

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My read is that this is a mix of two things:
(1) A loss-leader (the Japanese trying to use the WAS-BAL line to sell the US on a WAS-NYP line); and

(2) A case of corporate welfare from Japan gone wild (a lot of the backing seems to be from the Japanese government rather than the Japanese private sector).

 

The underlying issue is that the Japanese are looking at their domestic maglev plans as being a massive boondoggle and are trying to get some other lines sold so they can defray some of the long-term costs (and sunk R&D costs) on scale.

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My read is that this is a mix of two things:

(1) A loss-leader (the Japanese trying to use the WAS-BAL line to sell the US on a WAS-NYP line); and

(2) A case of corporate welfare from Japan gone wild (a lot of the backing seems to be from the Japanese government rather than the Japanese private sector).

 

The underlying issue is that the Japanese are looking at their domestic maglev plans as being a massive boondoggle and are trying to get some other lines sold so they can defray some of the long-term costs (and sunk R&D costs) on scale.

Bingo. I might find the links later, but that's exactly what's happening. While I think the whole thing is a boondoggle, it's got the financial backing, so I give it a chance of happening instead of dismissing it. Baltimore and DC will get the world's fastest commuter train, lol.

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Apparently they had a community meeting but I can't find any maps online. Where do they plan to have the station in DC? What route do they plan to take into the city? Amtrak sure isn't going to let them use any right of way as competition. National Park Service won't let them get near the BW Parkway.

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Apparently they had a community meeting but I can't find any maps online. Where do they plan to have the station in DC? What route do they plan to take into the city? Amtrak sure isn't going to let them use any right of way as competition. National Park Service won't let them get near the BW Parkway.

(1) I believe they're looking at using the ex-Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis line (https://ggwash.org/view/6995/historic-losses-dc-to-annapolis-by-rail).

(2) I don't know about station locations.

(3) If the project actually gets rolling, I kind of wonder if Congress would give Amtrak the choice to be obstructionist on this one. Yes, Amtrak can demand "fair compensation" for being dragged into sharing WAS with another tenant but I think it's possible for Congress to declare "You are recieving your compensation as part of the following grant(s) for insert-project-here" (e.g. the WAS overhaul).

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If a foreign company manages to acquire a ROW, upgrades it to HSR standard, and wants to run, entirely on their dime, a foreign built trainset, I'm not sure what legal impediment there would be.

 

It's only when the government contributes funding that Buy America kicks in.

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Should any of the various Hyperloop or maglev boondoggles ever actually be built, just imagine what the billions expended on such wasted efforts could have accomplished if equivalent appropriations were spent instead on incremental improvements to existing or expanded conventional passenger rail. Sure, private investors can build whatever they want and those funds would not otherwise be available for wiser projects, but it still represents real money down the toilet while not addressing the actual transportation needs and requirements in any of the markets proposed.

 

Of course, you'll never see real private investment in conventional passenger rail services as they are are money losing propositions; However, some investors, always after the next big thing and potential high rates of return, just might be deluded into putting money into these high-tech mistakes.

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About eight years ago Munich and the state of Bavaria threw in the towel after cost estimates for a maglev train line from the city center to the airport nearly doubled in less than a year to Euro 3.3 billion.

 

Construction never started on the Munich maglev line, but well over Euro 50 million of taxpayer money was spent on endlessly studying the project without even one shovel of dirt having been dug for the now-cancelled prestige project.

From a National Corridors Initiative article about Munich now building a conventional rail East-West tunnel under the city, its second such, for Euros 3.2 to 3.8 Billion.

 

http://www.nationalcorridors.org/df4/df04102017.shtml#Construction

 

Munich can't afford Maglev to the airport, but Baltimore is supposed to come up with many Billions for it?

Edited by WoodyinNYC

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About eight years ago Munich and the state of Bavaria threw in the towel after cost estimates for a maglev train line from the city center to the airport nearly doubled in less than a year to Euro 3.3 billion.

 

Construction never started on the Munich maglev line, but well over Euro 50 million of taxpayer money was spent on endlessly studying the project without even one shovel of dirt having been dug for the now-cancelled prestige project.

From a National Corridors Initiative article about Munich now building a conventional rail East-West tunnel under the city, it's second such, for Euros 3.2 to 3.8 Billion.

 

http://www.nationalcorridors.org/df4/df04102017.shtml#Construction

 

Munich can't afford Maglev to the airport, but Baltimore is supposed to come up with many Billions for it?

 

Again, it's not a Baltimore (or Washington) project, it's a (probably functionally third-sector) Japanese-funded project.

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... Munich and the state of Bavaria threw in the towel after cost estimates for a maglev train line from the city center to the airport nearly doubled ...

From a National Corridors Initiative article about Munich now building a conventional rail tunnel under the city ...

 

http://www.nationalcorridors.org/df4/df04102017.shtml#Construction

 

Munich can't afford Maglev to the airport, but Baltimore is supposed to come up with many Billions for it?

Again, it's not a Baltimore (or Washington) project, it's a (probably functionally third-sector) Japanese-funded project.

Joe Fox, a traffic reporter and transit activist, wrote on the Greater Greater Washington blog

https://ggwash.org/view/61883/the-idea-for-a-dc-baltimore-maglev-train-keeps...floating-down-the-track

Japan is willing to pay for half the project in hopes it catches on, but who would fund the other half?

 

The $10 billion dollar question for the entire project is the funding source. The Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC) has offered to pay half the cost of the DC to Baltimore line. The remainder of the initial funding would come from a yet-to-be-identified mix of (American) federal, state, and private sources.

...

There would also need to be dedicated funding via either fares or government support to repay JBIC for its initial investment.

 

It's a project half-funded by a loan from Japan's export-import bank. Like most loans, it would need to be repaid. The other half the money needed to build it would come from government (or private ha ha) sources. So it looks like whether the project uses Maryland's money, or funds from the City of Baltimore, or both, that taxpayers in Baltimore would have to pay for Maglev.

Edited by WoodyinNYC

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Amtrak sure isn't going to let them use any right of way as competition.

Why not?

 

If things reach the point that this will be built anyway, Amtrak would be affected no matter what. So it would make sense for Amtrak to have part of the cake.

 

If they're smart they won't settle for a one off payment but seek to get a share of the ongoing profits. That way they've hedged their liabilities and win whether the project is a success or not.

Edited by cirdan

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Amtrak sure isn't going to let them use any right of way as competition.

Why not?

 

If things reach the point that this will be built anyway, Amtrak would be affected no matter what. So it would make sense for Amtrak to have part of the cake.

 

If they're smart they won't settle for a one off payment but seek to get a share of the ongoing profits. That way they've hedged their liabilities and win whether the project is a success or not.

 

Also, at least in the case of Union Station it isn't quite clear whether Amtrak could lock them out.

 

That being said, Amtrak has a tendency to keep their parochial interests in mind first and foremost (e.g. they won't sell slots on the NEC).

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How much would Maryland have to pay Amtrak to have Amtrak honor MARC tickets on the Acela Express? I bet it's a lot less than paying for a maglev line, and it would result in an immediate 30-minute ride between the two cities for commuters.

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Or Maryland could simply run their own 125mph capable trains express to achieve something close to that and charge whatever they feel is appropriate today (or well soon, as soon as they get their Chargers and/or rebuilt HHP-8s on line).

 

Soon it will not be upto Amtrak to decide who they sell slots to. It will be upto the NEC Commission on the Board of which each state that is a stakeholder has a seat. Amtrak will be beholden to this august body for all its capital funding for improvements and capital maintenance.

Edited by jis

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Or Maryland could simply run their own 125mph capable trains express to achieve something close to that and charge whatever they feel is appropriate today (or well soon, as soon as they get their Chargers on line.

 

Soon it will not be upto Amtrak to decide who they sell slots to. It will be upto the NEC Commission on the Board of which each state that is a stakeholder has a seat. Amtrak will be beholden to this august body for all its capital funding for improvements and capital maintenance.

Part of the problem with this is that at least some of that is going to be redundant with existing service. Amtrak runs 37x daily trains WAS-BAL while MARC runs another 28x. By the way, MARC does run a single non-stop between WAS and BAL (train 408). It takes 37 minutes: Faster than the fastest Regionals and about 5 minutes slower than the slowest Acelas.

 

Setting the Acela aside, given that Amtrak operates Penn Line MARC service I'd put the onus on them for not approaching Maryland for a broader step-up service on weekends, for example. Alternatively, if Amtrak is concerned about their own capacity, I have to wonder why they don't cross-list some MARC trains in their timetables as Thruway services? VIA and GO do this around Toronto, for example...

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