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Can a private company bring maglev trains to the U.S.?

Posting in Cities

Imagine traveling from Washington, D.C. to New York City in 60 minutes at over 300 miles per hour. Impossible, right? Amtrak's plan to update its infrastructure in the Northeast Corridor would increase the speed of trains to 220 miles per hour, but won't be fully complete until 2040, at best.

But what if Amtrak wasn't involved. Can a private company step in and realize the high-speed dreams of the United States?

Maybe. The Washington Post reports that The Northeast Maglev, a 25-employee company, is working to bring a maglev train to the region. And already it has raised $50 million in private investment and has brought in a number of high-profile regional business leaders and political leader to join its advisory board. But there are plenty more challenges ahead.

The Northeast Maglev chairman Wayne Rogers said his firm does not have a cost estimate for the entire project but that the Washington-Baltimore leg would cost at least $10 billion. He said he expects it to take at least three years to navigate the regulatory, environmental and planning process and another 10 years for construction. The company is working closely with engineers from Central Japan Railway, which operates the bullet train in Japan.

Yes, that's the same company bringing you these trains.

While it's an exciting prospect for the region, it's also worth noting that this isn't the first time there has been an attempt to build a maglev system, the Post points out. Those attempts fizzled out each time because of a lack of interest or funding issues.

If this project did prevail though it would be interesting to see how that would impact Amtrak. The Northeast Corridor is its most popular and profitable corridor. Would a competitor meet a need in the region? Would it push Amtrak to innovate? Or would it be a crippling blow to the passenger rail service?

Read more: Washington Post

Photo: Flickr/jthornett

— By on November 4, 2013, 5:33 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure