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Maglev commercial

What impact will the building of a high-speed train between Anaheim and Las Vegas have economically.Find out! That’s the commercial message posted here in the interest of throwing raw meat to wild animals.

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

22 Responses

  1. Hieronymous Braintree says:

    I love trains (if all goes well I’m travelling from Seattle to New York for Christmas via Amtrak, most of the way in an incredily cheap roomette) but according to what I’ve read (Krugman, NYT), climate change is going to turn some areas of the country such as LA into near desert and soon. If that’s true, imagine what it’s going to be like in Vegas?

    I think a maglev from San Diego to San Fran would be great but building a super-fast train to what may soon become the worlds most glamorous ghost town is not a good bet with our dollars.

  2. Allan says:

    Hieronymous Braintree,

    1. Krugman is a economist with no expertise in climate change so his opinion carries no more weight than does your neighbor’s.

    2. Krugman is a partisan hack so, again, his opinion carries no weight outside of partisan circles.

    3. Los Angeles is already a “near desert”. The avg rainfall there is only about 15″. So for Krugman to assert that it will soon become a “near desert” due to climate change is really silly since it is already a “near desert”. Thus proving point #1 above.

  3. patlynch says:

    Partisan hack? Oh, my! This particular hack has a Nobel Prize for Economics.

    From the New York Times, his bio.

    Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as a columnist on the Op-Ed Page and continues as professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University.

    Krugman won the Nobel Prize for Economics (October 14, 2008)

    Mr. Krugman received his B.A. from Yale University in 1974 and his Ph.D. from MIT in 1977. He has taught at Yale, MIT and Stanford. At MIT he became the Ford International Professor of Economics.

    Mr. Krugman is the author or editor of 20 books and more than 200 papers in professional journals and edited volumes. His professional reputation rests largely on work in international trade and finance; he is one of the founders of the “new trade theory,” a major rethinking of the theory of international trade. In recognition of that work, in 1991 the American Economic Association awarded him its John Bates Clark medal, a prize given every two years to “that economist under forty who is adjudged to have made a significant contribution to economic knowledge.” Mr. Krugman’s current academic research is focused on economic and currency crises.

    At the same time, Mr. Krugman has written extensively for a broader public audience. Some of his recent articles on economic issues, originally published in Foreign Affairs, Harvard Business Review, Scientific American and other journals, are reprinted in Pop Internationalism and The Accidental Theorist.

  4. Interurbans says:

    This proposed line is only for people visiting the casinos and the Las Vegas attractions. If this new High Speed Line is so wonderful let the people who will benefit from its existence pay for it. Should the people of our entire great nation pay for an amusement park ride from one amusement park ride to another amusement park? This is only for people in the Los Angeles area wanting to visit the Las Vegas attractions. Let them pay their own way.

    Who is going to use and who is going benefit from this, and what genius came up this boondoggle? When it is all over who will be the winners and who will be the losers? Hopefully it will never be built but the consulates and developers will have their design money and be gone while we have a stack of useless paper.

    Good luck with their plans and good luck with any kind of ridership and good luck with only privet no tax funding paying for it.

    The California High Speed Rail between Northern and southern California cities is something that is wanted and needed so let’s put our energy and funding there where the HSR can provide a real service.

    Maglev has been proven to be a failure. The only operating Maglev carrying passengers is the Shanghai’s airport line. It was built and paid for by the German developers to be an example to the advantages of Maglev and to be the base for the China HSR network. It came in two years late and double what the estimates were, The ride is bumpy and noise and it takes more than twice the power to run and it can not go any faster than conventional HSR lines. For this reason the Chinese government chose convention HSR technology over Maglev in spite of intensive lobbying by the Maglev consortium. What do we know that they do not know for us to want to still build a new Maglev line?

  5. Allan says:

    Pat … While I only had a minor in economics, I stand with other of higher note who think Krugman has gone off the deep end …

    Of course we are talking about an institution that award Nobel prizes to Al Gore and Jimmy Carter … so if you’re going to think that winning a Nobel Prize impresses me, then you’re wrong. It may as well be a UN committee awarding it …

    None the less, Krugman’s “expertise” is in economics and not climate change, therefore, his opinion on climate change carries no more weight than doe my opinion or yours. What if he were writing about space travel or train travel? Would you value his opinion any higher than your own. I would pay more attention to you on train travel than I would to Krugman.

    And yes, he is a partisan hack. I would think that is obvious. Does winning a Nobel Prize make Al Gore or Jimmy Carter any less partisan? No, it doesn’t and doesn’t make Krugman any less partisan either.

  6. Allan says:

    Interurbans – “The ride is bumpy and noise and it takes more than twice the power to run and it can not go any faster than conventional HSR lines.”

    All three are incorrect as are some of your other statements.

    But there is only one way to settle this. Years ago we built an HSR … the Acela. It didn’t lead to more HSR routes … Why is that? You’ll probably blame congress rather than Amtrak but regardless, it didn’t jumpstart HSR travel in the US.

    So let’s give a maglev a shot.

  7. Interurbans says:

    Allan- I road the Shanghai Maglev and there was vibration and a load hum during starting and it is not as smooth or quiet as European HSR.

    Acela is barely HSR and not run very well. The speeds are barely half of European, Japanese or Taiwanese HSR which is better run than our Acela, Let the technology stand by its self and keep politics out of the selection of the beat system. The Anaheim Las Vegas HSR is not needed other than to help out the Las Vegas attractions and casino business. It should not be built with either rail HSR or Maglev HSR innless it is built and financed by the casinos as the Monorail was built.

  8. Allan says:

    Interurbans, you’re the first one that I’ve read of who has called the ride bumpy. The videos I’ve seen taken from inside a maglev were steady as a rock.

    I can’t disagree with you that the Las Vegas Maglev and/or the HSR should be paid for by the casinos rather than the taxpayer, but we both know that isn’t going to happen.

    At one time in this country, sport teams built their own stadiums and arenas … now they’ll threaten to leave the city if the city doesn’t build them one.

  9. @ Interurbans: Just to clear up some of your inaccurate maglev comments (again):

    – Maglev has not been proven to be a failure. So far, the only operational high-speed maglev is Shanghai’s airport-downtown line, which has demonstrated extremely high reliability, comfortable ride quality, low noise levels and low maintenance. (There is a low-speed maglev carrying passengers in Nagoya, Japan, but that’s another story).
    – The Shanghai maglev was built and paid for by the Chinese clients, not the German developers, to be a demonstration of the advantages of maglev, not to be the base for the China HSR network.
    – The project came in right on time, not two years late, and right on budget, not double what the estimates were. The ride is smooth, not bumpy, and much quieter than any train, especially from the outside, and it’s not clear that “it takes more than twice the power” — twice the power of what, exactly? — to run and it certainly can go faster than conventional HSR lines, since the fastest HSR systems only hit roughly 200-220 mph or so. The Shanghai maglev hits 267 mph during regular daily operations — travelling less than nine miles from a standing start — and set a speed record of 310 mph in November, 2003, with no major modifications to the vehicle or guideway. All this in a 19-mile route.
    – The Chinese government chose conventional HSR technology for their large-scale building program because of intensive lobbying by the rail ministry. Maglev was never considered for insertion throughout the country.

    So, what do we know that the Chinese do not know for us to want to still build a new Maglev line? We in the U.S. want to investigate promising technology alternatives in a democracy, where good ideas can compete, such as in California-Nevada, with the DesertXpress and maglev being discussed strenuously these days. You might remember the recent article in Inland Empire Weekly, “Loco Motives,” ( where you laid out the same off-target objections to maglev the first time.

  10. Allan says:

    Maglev developers forging ahead

    Other details that came out of Monday’s forum:

    • Transrapid USA … would license the technology to the American vendors and Cummings said the trains and guideways would be manufactured in Las Vegas, creating 13,000 jobs.

    • Tom Bordeaux, senior transportation manager for Parsons, the engineering company partner, said the Transrapid system is designed to last 80 years with no major maintenance. Traditional trains need to have steel rails replaced about every seven years because of the pounding high-speed trains give them in their thousands of annual trips…

    • While some critics have said maglev is unproven, Walter Buss, president of Transrapid International USA, said the Shanghai system already has traveled 4.1 million miles, carrying 20 million passengers, and it has a 99.8 percent on-time operating efficiency.

    • One-way tickets on the maglev between Las Vegas and Anaheim are proposed to cost $55, comparable to today’s airline fares and the pricetag estimated by DesertXpress for its service.

    • Cummings said the maglev project has support in Southern California because the line would link Anaheim with Ontario International Airport, an underused facility east of Los Angeles. With Los Angeles International and Anaheim’s John Wayne Airport at or near capacity, Ontario could be better utilized and passengers could access it on the maglev from Anaheim within minutes.

  11. Anonymous says:

    OF ALL THE STUPID LAME THINGS…YES lets build something that does not work anywhere else in the world ..So american

  12. Allan says:

    Maglev works in China, Japan, and S. Korea.

  13. Hieronymous Braintree says:


    Krugman got where he is by being able to tell the difference between bad info and good info and has been attacked by people like you in exactly the same petty, yet superior tone, since he got his op ed column in the Times. He has proved to be consistently right and his critics consistently wrong and that is why, despite those attacks, he is one of the most respected people in the country. His critics? Not so much.

    One of the effects of global warming is a loss in water resources. It will also grossly harm the economy. Vegas is a resort city in the desert. You do the math.

  14. tahoevalleylines says:

    Raw Meat! Sun Tzu understood raw meat, and the Chinese Railroad Ministry, AKA Red Army Logistics, reads SunTzu. They choose steel-wheel generic railways. ( newsletter 42, article 374, and Newsletter 89, article 1037.

    Probably, we will build a Mag-Lev, maybe several. Segments. Probably, the guideway cross-section of each, if built (construction start date) more than a year or two apart will differ, so they can never connect and operate continuously. Each manufacturer will wish to have their own patented guideway. That is a problem not usually discussed by promoters. Solve the problem by mutual agreement of all existing mag-lev manufacturers? Before proceeding?

    Energy consumption is a factor too. EIOER comparison: Shanghai vs. TGV/ICE figures invited from Mr. Lawrence Blow. Include need for separate air cargo freight container haul infrastructure between destinations. Note regenerative feature inherent with steel wheel systems, an energy payback.

    Disaster/sabotage recovery is an issue Post 911DAY. Army moniker for standard gauge interchangeable equipment railways is: “Second Dimension Surface Transport Logistics Platform”. Rails, some large bridge crossings, to Port of New Orleans were put back to service in weeks, by in-house crews and much salvaged material. America is not immune from man-caused events aimed at crippling transport & distribution.

    If private money can do it, Las Vegas Mag-Lev could be a go. With rumors of Mormon Church deep pockets in Las Vegas, certainly LDS should be a willing source for construction capital. Mormons are still sore about the Transcontinental Line running North of Salt Lake City, and Mag-Lev is enough different in technology to forgo THAT old feud.

    A better bet for non-gamblers (all comers invited) would be patient study of all US dormant branch lines, ( and creation of prioritized list of important rehab candidates. AG branchlines, first, corridors with significant resource extraction next, along with destinations having importance in US manufacturing renaissance. Not sexy. But maybe famine hedge is a significant incentive…

    Mag-Lev boosters are smart people, but rare is one who is familiar with this reference compendium:

    Click to access Lionel%20Badal%20Dissertation.pdf

    The Mormon Church can turn the page by getting behind some STRATEGIC railway line projects, To Wit:

    Kaiser Engineers Oct. 1945 proposal for electrification of TranSierra rail line Sacramento-Reno via Colfax,, terminous of Capitol Corridor rail service. Line re-alignments and tunnels will take two hours off passenger and freight service, while lowering summit elevation about 1/4 mile promises substantial fuel savings as we enter the Oil Interregnum.

    1995 CalTrans Reno/Tahoe Unabridged Rail Corridor Study (Randell Iwasaki, CalDOT) shows US 50 Corridor demographics and enroute hydropower adequate for high volume medium speed passenger & freight route. This new line relieves freight volume on the 1869 line to a degree, permitting more track & time for expanded Capitol Corridor passenger bookings.

    Anew North-South railway capable of hauling passenger & freight is a strategic necessity, running between Las Vegas to Reno. This is an important West Coast rail corridor imperative, even without consideration of worst case scenarios hanging over USA transport. These worst cases include EMP event, other manmade/natural disaster events, and ultimately, constricted trucking due to motor fuel rationing, supply disruption.

    The Mag-Lev discussion is a transport digestive disorder, liken it to the SST, the Concorde. Feasible, great fun, sexy, limited route application, and uses too much energy. Eventually we will get it out of our system. Hopefully, we will have wise leadership in other regions able to see need for generic railway expansion, extension, and dormant line rehab. See Christopher C. Swan’s “ELECTRIC WATER” (New Society Press 2007), for compendium of needful things in the energy emergency.

    See you down the line…

  15. Allan says:

    Hieronymous Braintree,

    Krugman is only respected by the kool-aid crowd. To the rest of us, he is a partisan hack. He even wrote a book called, “The Conscience of a Liberal”. Hellllloooo …

    He hasn’t been proven consistently right. I easily show you his error on Los Angeles and the link I provided above shows how he was, once again, wrong on economic issues.

    You can support or oppose rail, HSR, HPR, or maglev for any number of reasons. We can debate the merits of building an LA – Las Vegas route whether HSR or maglev but dragging in Krugman’s name doesn’t lend any extra weight to any argument outside of economics … and having read his economic positions, it doesn’t really help you there either.

  16. Rafael says:

    Since UPRR isn’t prepared to sell any of its land for the purpose of constructing the LA-Ontario-San Diego leg of California HSR, planners there are now close to switching to a right of way based on CA-60, CA-57, I-10 and I-15 as far as Miramar instead. The CA-57 median is already gone but the one for I-10 is still available. Both of these had been earmarked for the LV-Anaheim maglev line but now there won’t be anywhere to put west of Colton/Ontario.

    That means the strongest argument in its favor – direct service all the way – is about to evaporate. Nevada had a window of opportunity to make maglev happen and failed to do so. Now, there’s a desparate effort to salvage a $45 million earmark for maglev planning that Harry Reid had snuck into a bill in 2005 and would now like to re-allocated to steel wheels.

    Instead, HSR enthusiasts there should seek a spur off the California network, using trackage rights to deliver *direct* Anaheim-LA-LV plus *direct* SF-LV service. Sacramento and perhaps San Diego could be added later. DesertXPress misses this target by going to Victorville instead of veering north at Barstow to a wye at Mojave, but that sounds like an eminently fixable flaw. On the plus side, they’re pretty far along on the EIS/EIR and they will seek only loan guarantees, not grants, for their $4 billion project.

    They’re also stuck on 150mph top speed instead of going straight to 220-240mph. The higher speed would increase the cost of buying and operating the train fleet. The cost to build the infrastructure wouldn’t change all that much. However, the extra speed could cut travel times by enough to eliminate any need for the expensive Ivanpah Valley relief airport. Nevada ought to build a solar thermal power plant on the patch of land it has already purchased for the purpose and use it to power the trains.

  17. Hieronymous Braintree says:


    A basic rule of critical thinking is to note that mere assertion is not proof. To say that Krugman is only respected by the “Kool Ade crowd,” means that you are saying that the New York Times, the Nobel Prize Committee, Princeton University, ABC news, the major cable news networks, etc. are all part of that crowd. On Planet Reality where I live they’re called The Establishment. In fact, from where I sit, claiming that Krugman is respected by the “Kool Ade crowd” is a classic case of projection, which is just my small way of saying that I think you’re a laughably stupid crackpot who has forfeited any reason for me to respect his opinion on anything.

    Here’s hoping you have a suffiency of tin foil for all your psychological needs.

    I’m done with you.

  18. Interurbans says:

    In response to Laurance’s points. Yes it does work but so does a Ferrari. It is one line with a lot of people overseeing it to see that it does work. You can say the same for conventional two rail HSR technology.

    I am not familiar with Nagoya Japan’s Maglev bit there are several large profitable privet electric railways, the JR local and through service and their HSR all serving Nagoya. Haw many miles of Maglev are there in service there? Again if it is so great why hasn’t it replace some of the two rail technology?

    The Shanghai Maglev was paid for by the Chinese government but was heavily subsidized by the builders. And it was built to be the example of whither the Chinese HSR system would be Maglev or conventional HSR. The German developer desperately needed a working example of what HSR could do in order to sell their technology to the Chinese and other world wide clients. Again if Maglev so good why hasn’t there been any new Maglev lines built in China or any ware else. The only Maglev on the horizon is here in the US where the developers want our government to fund their technology. Again if it is so good why can’t they get private funding since it will be so profitable?

    As I said earlier it was more a strong vibration than bumpy. I remember flying into Shanghai and seeing the Maglev sitting completely finished quiet a while before opening but the developer could not get it to operate reliably. It was delayed at least a year from its original opening. In China there is no bad news, things are just spun to fit the current need. I do not remember the outside noise of the Maglev Vs conventional HSR, but inside as I recall conventional HSR was quieter. (no hum)

    I am would think that the numbers are out their as to the amount of current to operate and the top speed of both technologies are available. But the most efficient and fastest technology will be the winner if politics do not get in the way.

    Maglev was considered along with conventional for the Chinese HSR and the best candidate won. All lobbying from both sides put aside.

    One other advantage of conventional HSR is that it can run at grade and it can run on and share conventional railroad tracks at conventional speeds for city entry where a new alignment would be to cost intensive.

    My point was that again if Maglev technology is superior to conventional HSR why does the government have to pay for its development? Why do we not see more Maglev projects in operation? I certainly have no objection Maglev, I just don’t want to pay for someone’s gadgetbahn amusement park ride. Let the developers pay for their own technology? I will gladly acknowledge Maglev as a superior technology when the real numbers are in as to the cost to build, operate and maintain. I am in the Consumer Electronics business and have seen many items enter the marketplace that only a few years before were impossible to conceive let alone build and bring to market.

  19. @ Interurbans

    No matter how many times you say it, the Shanghai maglev line was not delayed from its original opening date. I worked for Transrapid in the USA from 1999 to 2005, and I guarantee the Chinese posted their major schedule milestones starting in 2001 — they met every one — to match the political timetable of their Premier Zhu Rongji, who wanted the system up and running on its maiden voyage on December 31st, 2002. Of course the trip was hugely successful. He left office in the spring of 2003, as the system was finishing its introductory service and being handed off to the Chinese for daily operating responsibilities.

    And I’ve never argued that one feature of conventional HSR, as you point out, is that it can run at grade (so can maglev) and it can run on and share conventional railroad tracks at conventional speeds (maglev doesn’t want to do that) for city entry where a new alignment would be too cost intensive. Cost isn’t everything; this feature allows for local commuter and freight lines to tear up the common tracks, dictate HSR schedules, and introduce unplanned time delays from third-party incidents/accidents. Maglev’s better off running on its own tracks.

  20. Daniel says:

    I’ve read about the maglev proposed for Calverton: . Is it any likely to be built?

  21. @ Daniel, I hope the Maglev2000 system gets built, but it’ll take some effort. Dr. Danby and Dr. Powell are giants in the international maglev community, having invented the first-generation system that’s being commercialized in Japan, but so far they haven’t linked up with any major manufacturers to actually built and test their latest-generation approach.

    In my opinion their system, even if it gets seed funding for the vehicle/system development and the test track, is at least 15-20 years from being a commercial product.

  22. Allan says:

    Hieronymous Braintree,

    You left out an adjective … those you named are the “liberal” establishment. So let’s do a little “critical thinking” here.

    The liberal establishment awards a liberal economist an award and then nods its collective head in agreement as the liberal economist agrees with other liberals on subjects other than economics. He repeats the liberal pronouncements in his own writings and then is hailed by the liberal establishment for his wisdom.

    And none of the above believe they’re drinking the Kool-Aid from the same cup! LOL

    Sadly, it appears that you’re drinking from the same cup and wearing the same blinders.

    I repeat … I easily showed you his error on Los Angeles and the link I provided above shows how he was, once again, wrong on economic issues.

    But hey, keep your eyes closed and keeping repeating the mantra and I’m sure the sky will look rosy on your world while the rest of us deal with reality on this world.

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