Trains For America

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Nashville maglev plan inches ahead, more good rail news for Chatnooga

The Chattanooga Times Free Press is reporting that the preliminary study into a Nashville-Chatanooga indicates that the I-24 corridor would be the best place for a proposed maglev route linking the two Tennessee cities. The next step is to do an environmental impact study similar to what is already being done for an Atlanta-Chattanooga airport maglev link.

Joe Ferguson, who is overseeing the fast-train initiative for Chattanooga’s Enterprise Center, said the study’s results also will offer ridership projections as well as suggestions where stations may go on the route.

He said the $870,000 study is slated to be finished in late May.

Officials have said that while there’s no money to build a train, Chattanooga needs to be ready if funds become available from the federal government or private sector.

Mr. Ferguson told the center’s board the next step will be to perform an environmental impact study such as that which is in progress between Chattanooga and Atlanta.

“It’s preliminary to an EIS,” he said of the Nashville-Chattanooga study.

Wayne Cropp, the center’s executive director, said he returned earlier this month from Shanghai, China, where he rode on a magnetic levitation train that reached 280 mph.

“Maglev is outstanding technology,” he said about the train which operates on a 20-mile route.

Mr. Ferguson said the $7.9 million EIS study under way between the Chattanooga and Atlanta airports just completed its first full year and has about 18 months left.

This is great news for rail transport in Chattanooga. A city famous for its railroad heritage just might be at the center of two ultra-modern HSR projects in the coming years, bringing passenger trains back to what has been an obvious dead spot in the national system.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

7 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Disclaimer: I have no connection whatsoever to any of the vendors mentioned below. I’m just an engineer who’s trying to warn you.

    Maglev is a bridge to nowhere, it is incompatible with legacy standard gauge infrastructure. If the only three places you ever want to go are Nashville, Chattanooga and Atlanta, that’s fine. Otherwise, do what the rest of the world is doing and, California may decide to do in November: maximize value for money and minimize technology risk by sticking with steel wheels.

    Whatever you build will last for many decades – just look at BART vs. Caltrain in the SF Bay Area to learn the steep price tag of promoting incompatible rail infrastructure. Even with all the money in the world, there’s typically only room for one technology in any given corridor. Pick the wrong one and your children and grandchildren will have to pay through the nose for your mistake.

    High speed steel wheel trains, e.g. Siemens’ Velaro E, Talgo’s 350 “Duck” and Alsthom’s new AVE trainset are certified for commercial operation at well over 210 and 220mph, respectively, with suitable track and catenary. Competitors like Hitachi and Bombardier are catching up. Those speeds are not quite as high as those possible with maglev, but nearly so. For Nashville to Chattanooga, the difference would be just 10 minutes. To a vendor, that’s huge. To a passenger, perhaps not so much.

    There are also dozens of operational steel wheel HSR lines in operation around the world.

    For maglev, there is just one German vendor and just one 20 mi section in commercial service. Not much of a track record, pun intended. Munich just canceled its maglev project because the forecasts construction cost doubled soon after the prime minister of Bavaria – a mustard-keen supporter – was forced to retire for unrelated reasons. Even the planned 100 mile maglev extension to Hangzhou is now in question. Elsewhere in China, HSR projects are sticking with steel wheels to begin with.

  2. Nikolas says:

    I fully agree with the above poster. Maglev is neat but as everyone is finding out or has already found out, way way too expensive. HSR is more than adequate. With 220 mph trains you can conceivably get from LA to NYC in 15 to 20 hours, and that is much farther than you’d ever consider travelling by rail before one would consider switching to a plane. NYC to Chicago in under 5 hours should be doable as well with technology that exists today.

  3. Allan says:

    I totally disagree with the above posters.

    HSR is yesterday’s technology. It’s at its zenith while maglev is just beginning.

    Do you want to put heavy freight on the same line as HSR? Our trains are much heavier and carry more freight than those in Europe. Aside from the track damage, it would be a nightmare to try to mix HSR and slow freight on the same lines. You’re just not going to mix the two.

    And the regular freight lines aren’t capable of handling HSR … at least not at high speeds. If you put HSR on a regular freight line … it will no longer be HSR. It’ll have to slow down to the conditions of the track.

    So … you’ll have to build new tracks if you want to take advantage of the speed and it is cheaper to build elevated maglev than new protected HSR lines. They are less expensive to operate and maintain than HSR. Data from the Shanghai maglev project indicates that operation and maintenance costs are covered by the current volume of 7,000 passengers per day.

    If you want high speed, go with maglev. Otherwise, improve the tracks a bit and stick with Amtrak.

  4. netdragon says:

    I completely disagree with the first 2 posters as well. You can switch to another train or switch to a plane at stations if you want to go further, however a significant amount of passengers even going on long distances will use the maglev for part of its route since it’s the fastest. As gas prices go up, the value of the maglev route will only grow.

  5. Train-hope-ing says:

    Yeah, who cares if the Nashville-Atlanta train isn’t compatible with steel wheels? All you would have to do is transfer to another train. At least you would get between the two cities (or any points in between) quickly. I think the maglev should run to Clarksville, TN as well, due to the large number of commuters that work in Nashville. With the current gas prices, the I-24 routes would be VERY popular.

  6. Nikolas says:

    Maglev is never going to take off. It isn’t going past Shanghai. There are protests over further construction and they are pouring their billions into new HSR, a 6500 mile network. I would love to be proved wrong but it is too expensive to build enough of a network for it to be useful here.

  7. Alexander the great says:

    Russia must take bold initiative and LAUNCH the magnetic motor Cars and Vehicles…. and prove to the world that there is an

    alternative to the Corrupt, Blood hungry, and Pathetic

    ….Jewish, Iranian and Indian Triangle of Evil TRAITORS class……..

    if Russia doesnt launch magnetic cars now…….. western companies will launch it …. all these western companies are only

    waiting for this Evil Triangle to strenghen their base in the future Slum lands of the world…

    which is unfortunately the muslim world…..

    as soon as Irani Lobby which is trying to create a Iraq like situation in Pakistan to create their ultimate government like

    they did in Iraq…

    this Irani lobby has the support of British and Americans… who are just to fucked to think straight….

    and these british or american shit holes will repeat some 911 type scenerio to acuse pakistan…. .

    and once pakistan falls to Irani Lobby……… rest of muslim world will fall like a domino…..

    and then these westerners would not achieve any thing just the destruction of the muslim world……

    but rest of the world will not give these westerners any chance……

    cuz almost every country is suffering from european, american and their Evil Triangles one way or another……

    Russia must not waste any time……. and dont be greedy……..

    just be opportunistic…….. to Lauch once again… the Leadership of Technology like they did …… with the space program

    1st man in space of ManKind = Russian
    1st Satelite in Space of ManKind = Russian

    1st Space station of ManKind = Russian


    1st Magnetic Cars and Vehicles = Russian……

    if Russia doesnt see clearly wat is coming…. and doesnt launch magnetic cars………

    some one else will………..

    one very important thing is Russia must Choose its friends very clearfully……. and avoid those “Termites” who eat every

    superpower that supports these termites…….

    if Russian are smart enough to know, who these termites are….????

    These Termites are Evil Triangle

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