Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Chattanooga maglev response

There is such a timely and intelligent response to yesterday’s post on the proposed Atlanta – Chattanooga maglev, I have moved it to the front for your thoughtful consideration. There are responses to particular questions I rased about the project. If you wish to respond, let’s keep all the discussion with this post, just for the sake of clarity.

Speaking as a maglev proponent, I suggest some tentative answers to your list of good questions.
• Maglev technology is safe, fast, clean transportation. It has environmental features that include low noise and vibration and all-electric power that make it a good long-term approach for the USA, where we do not have a good high-speed passenger rail infrastructure already in place.
• Studies have shown that maglev is about as expensive in capital cost as true high-speed rail (as in Europe and Asia, travelling at 190 mph and higher) and can even be less expensive especially in more demanding terrain where maglev’s superior grade-climbing and turning allow it to navigate hills and turns more easily, with shorter lengths of tracks.
• The Atlanta airport terminal is not the southernmost station; there may be more stops as commuter collectors to the south. That will be similar to the situation in Chattanooga, where a downtown connection at the existing commuter rail station is planned as well as one at Lovell Field.
• The purpose of this project to provide connections to airports, yes, but will also include station stops in major cities and towns along the way for commuters and regular folks. Ridership studies will be done to pinpoint the likely riders.
• Since the answer above is not “yes,” the people of Georgia are not paying for a project which exclusively benefits airlines operating in interstate commerce.
• Whether the airlines would even operate these trains is an open question. The European model is a winner, though, and should be considered.
• Georgia DOT considering fast conventional rail service as a main competitor to the maglev approach and will also look at Amtrak-class non-electrified trains, too.

By the way, there is another study underway to look at the Chattanooga – Nashville connection using maglev technology that will look into these same sorts of elements going to the north. You have a link to the project already.

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September 2007