Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

No American maglev?

The Patriot-News from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania found itself musing over international business developments, and the non-development of high tech transportation options in the United States?

Now, who would be against the American people having transportation choices? (We think you already know.)

Here is part of the opinion piece.

The U.S. government had planned to sponsor a maglev demonstration project, in which Pittsburgh remains a strong contender, but for reasons that are obscure, the funds to build the project were never appropriated, setting back American aspirations in this field more than a decade.

Meanwhile, maglev is gaining increasing attention around the world. Munich, Germany, recently announced that it will build a maglev system from the city center to the airport. More ambitious projects are being discussed from Britain to the Persian Gulf. There is interest in the U.S., as well, but not apparently in the place where it counts the most, Washington.

Meanwhile, conventional high-speed technology not only is improving but is being deployed in ever-increasing miles, particularly in Europe and China, which have major rail expansion initiatives under way.

Already well behind the curve in terms of making the most of rail service, the U.S. threatens to fall well behind the Japanese, Europeans and Chinese in developing tomorrow’s ground transportation systems. This is going to be a huge business as rising fuel prices make air and automobile travel increasingly expensive, and as the world begins to get serious about reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

It is a business the U.S. is going to miss out on, unless it soon begins to make the investments in research, development and application of modern rail and maglev technology.


Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, United States High Speed Rail

6 Responses

  1. Larry Blow says:

    The opinion piece is right on the mark. “There is interest in the U.S., as well, but not apparently in the place where it counts the most, Washington.”

    Needed funds of $90 million for the continuation of at least four maglev pre-construction planning projects — Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Baltimore-Washington — have been hung up due to legislative technicalities since August, 2005, when the latest highway bill (SAFETEA-LU) was passed. Efforts to pass the technical corrections bill needed to unlock the funds were denied in the final minutes before the Christmas recess in December.

    Maglev proponents in the U.S. continue to work at bare-bones levels while other countries make the strides to implement this timely technology. We’re not dead yet, but we’ve learned shallow breathing techniques along the way just in case…

  2. Mike DeVries says:

    This is truly a sad issue. We, the United States, are a controlled country by the wealthy who only wish to manipulate and limit the alternatives of the middle class and poor so they can milk that titty until it is absolutely dry! Do you think that if the United States were to elect a unique president like Ron Paul who recognizes the needs to change our foreign policy, stop our spending abroad in our attempt to police the world, and start spending our money on domestic improvements that something like maglev could become a thriving industry in the United States?

  3. Perry Kravec says:

    From what I read the current Maglev technologies are only good for demos. They are not practical and have to be heavily government subsidized to work. The ones who benefit the most are the ones who build the trains and rails. For example .. the rails have to be refrigerated for the thing to work.The real cost of ridership with current German technology is much higher than any other means of transportation.

  4. Below is the copy of an Op-Ed I wrote for Long Island Newsday
    Maglev-A Vision of Future Transportation Newsday Dec 4th 2009

    Two hundred seventy miles per hour was the reading on the digital speed indicator as we swiftly moved from Shanghais to the airport. We were riding the Maglev in China.
    The Maglev is a transportation system that travels on a dedicated guideway and is supported by a magnetic field and moves without mechanical friction. The result is a very quiet, efficient, and fast mode of transportation.

    The Chinese Maglev was the product of an effort that was made on Long Island by Drs. Gordon Danby and James Powell while they were working at Brookhaven National Laboratories. The Germans built this Maglev train, employing the inventors as consultants.

    There is a version of the technology that has been built in Japan as well, also inspired by the inventions of Danby and Powell. It is remarkably successful. The Japanese version has carried many thousands of passengers and has recorded its highest speed of 361 MPH. Japan is now building a 300 mile link connecting Tokyo and Osaka. They plan on being able to move 100,000 passengers per day at 300 MPH.

    Senator Patrick Moynihan passed a bill in the Senate in the early 90’s that provided $750 million for the testing and building of the first Maglev in America. But corresponding legislation was killed in the House of Representatives because of the pressure created by various interests including, airlines, truckers and auto manufacturers.

    Creating a working American Maglev is a matter of national pride. It is also a matter of not letting an economic opportunity slip through our fingers. If we do not manufacture enough of the world’s important technology, we will be beholding to those countries that do. In the process we lose the high skilled, high paid jobs that the American worker has proved that he or she can do. We can’t afford to lose that segment of our society. We need to create those jobs again.

    America has an extensive rail network. That network and right-of-ways are an incredible resource. We can move freight on that network using Maglev, and we can do it inexpensively. In fact we can move entire tractor-trailers in aerodynamic envelopes across the country at 300 MPH and save $3,000 worth of fuel and tolls. The trip will take less than a day and deliver a refreshed driver on the other end. The trip will be half the cost to the trucker , and profitable to the Maglev owners.

    This is a more advanced Maglev system than the first generation system now operating in Japan and China. The cost of making this new system is a fraction of the cost of those versions. The Chinese Maglev floats on a magnetic cushion that has very critical clearances (about ½ inch). The process of building that system is costly and time consuming.

    Danby and Powell have never stopped improving their Maglev design. Their second generation superconducting Maglev system allows the vehicle to float 4 ½” to 6” above a guideway. That system can be built in a factory and shipped by truck to a construction site, and be quickly erected using ordinary cranes. The higher clearances allow the vehicle to operate in ice storms, and snowstorms. Another innovation that Danby and Powell have solved is the compatibility with existing rail tracks. The modification is low in cost and allows conventional trains to operate alternately.

    This project will take as long as Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System. There will be jobs created on a long-term basis. We project Maglev manufacturing, and guideway fabrication will extend thirty years out, and all of that investment can be privately funded because it will be profitable. Presently the inventors and the Town of Riverhead have government grant in process to prove the new technology an a three mile track at Calverton

    Ernest M. Fazio, Director of Communications- Maglev 2000 and Chairman of Long Island Metro Business Action (formerly Long Island MidSuffolk Business Action)

  5. Kathy Harpster says:

    I would like to be updated with all information on this project, with any or all info on the availability of Ameritrade investment.

  6. Those that have said that Maglev is more expensive than conventional HSR have been right until the inventors created 2nd generation Maglev. Conventional HSR is about $40 million per two way mile. 2nd generation Mavlev is about $23 million per two way mile and old fashioned conventional rail is $19 million per two way mile.
    If we are going to make a leap to the future, let’s opt for the fastest, mnost comfortable, most efficient, system with the lowest maintenance cost. That system would be Maglev, but specifically 2nd generation Maglev which is an American technology.

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