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Clean Transport japan maglev train terminal

Published on January 12th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan

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Japan Offering To Help Build Maglev Train In US — Baltimore To DC In 15 Minutes

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January 12th, 2014 by Zachary Shahan
 
japan maglev train terminal

The US is getting woefully behind in train transport. While Japan, Europe, China, and others have high-speed rail, the US can’t get far enough political barriers to even get construction started on this generation of train travel. Perhaps Japan is feeling sorry for us, or perhaps it just wants to sell some of its high-speed train expertise — the country is willing to put up 50% of the loans needed to build a 37-mile maglev train (the fastest kind around) between Baltimore and Washington, DC.

“Even though the journey covers less than 40 miles, the current rail network takes more than an hour to make the trip between the two cities. In most cases, it’s quicker to drive, though finding (and paying for) a parking spot is a headache, nevermind the infamous Beltway traffic,” Chris DeMorro of Gas2 writes.

“The rail system is estimated to cost about $8 billion, and the Japanese government is willing to provide low-interest loans to cover half the cost, about $4 billion.”

It would be awesome if such a project were implemented, and many more like it across the US, but investing in modern rail in the US is, like a said, a hard one to get past NIMBY and short-sighted US politics. I got excited four years ago when Obama and the whole White House put their full weight behind a national high-speed rail plan (one with some problems, but still a much better network than we have today). But the individual projects, including a frontrunner in California, have been faced with opposition from very small but powerful groups in the political space. We’re yet to see if we’ll even get a decent scattering of that nationwide high-speed rail plan.

And that plan didn’t involved super-high-speed maglev trains at all… maglev trains a generation beyond what was proposed there.

Photo Credit: terminal for a maglev train in Japan via SeanPavonePhoto / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • Jackson Strong

    I’m sorry, but this author is demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of this infrastructure. First off, the opposition to high speed rail is not simply NIMBYism, which I do acknowledge is a significant roadblock. However, this would be overcome if such projects as the California HSR didn’t cost taxpayers 60 billion dollars!! How can you ignore this?? In Japan, they’re building this maglev train between Tokyo & Osaka, tunneling under hundreds of miles of mountain ranges an into the most densely populated cities in the world–at NO COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. It is privately funded. I’m sorry, but you cannot compare opposition to garnishing peoples wages via taxation to build something that would never financially support itself to a modern, world-class transportation system that uses its own money.

    • A Real Libertarian

      “In Japan, they’re building this maglev train between Tokyo & Osaka,
      tunneling under hundreds of miles of mountain ranges an into the most
      densely populated cities in the world–at NO COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. It
      is privately funded. I’m sorry, but you cannot compare opposition to
      garnishing peoples wages via taxation to build something that would
      never financially support itself to a modern, world-class transportation
      system that uses its own money.”

      Yeah, Chūō Shinkansen is scheduled for completion in 2045, government funding would get it done way faster.

      • Jackson Strong

        haha! you’re joking, right? You mean government funding, like the 2nd ave subway? How about this California HSR, which, based on the unrealistically optimistic timetable provided by CHSR, wouldn’t be operable until even after 2045? And that’s not tunneling under hundreds of miles of mountain ranges. You are simply wrong.

        • A Real Libertarian

          It’s scheduled for completion in 2045 because JR Central needed to keep their debt load down and didn’t want to accept government money.

          The only way they could was by slowing down construction.

          • Jackson Strong

            god forbid, we don’t keep the debt load down! This makes much more sense for them to keep their debt load down so that financing doesn’t eat all of the revenues when it opens. However my point isn’t so much about the government financing the project but the project’s ability to pay for itself, regardless of whether its financed via govt bonds or private bonds.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “However my point isn’t so much about the government financing the
            project but the project’s ability to pay for itself, regardless of
            whether its financed via govt bonds or private bonds.”

            You mean like the Interstate Highway System?

            It’s never produced any tolls, clearly a boondoggle, right?

          • Jackson Strong

            Exactly, actually. To begin with, the interstate highway system should absolutely be tolled. Many sections of it already are. You could definitely say it was a boondoggle because A. Subsidizing automobile travel has caused a greater amount of auto-dependency than what would exist otherwise B. Hooked us on fossil fuels due to the large amount of energy needed to displace millions individual vehicles C. Were built on top of once thriving cities and neighborhoods which caused massive displacement and reoriented urban growth outside of existing urban municipal boundaries. I will say though that by doing so the government unintentionally created potentially tremendously valuable rights of ways connecting all of our cities if these highways are used for maglev transportation.

          • Jackson Strong

            Exactly, actually. First off, the interstate highway system should absolutely be tolled. Many sections of it are already, so when you say “it’s never produced any tolls” you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about it. Was the interstate highway system a boondoggle, well you could say yes because A. It has encouraged and subsidized automobile travel and dependency whereas we may otherwise use a more efficient mode of transit, particularly for intra-urban commuting B. Has absolutely contributed to US dependency and consumption of fossil fuels needed to displace millions of vehicles on a daily basis and C. was built on top of what were once thriving cities and communities, causing massive displacement and reorienting urban development and growth outside of cities. I will say though in doing so the government has unintentionally created what could be tremendously valuable rights of ways connecting all of our major cities that can be used for maglev in the future.

          • Jackson Strong

            I’m preemptively signing off this debate so failure to respond to your future posts in no way implies I don’t have a response, but I don’t have time to address such an uninformed viewpoint.

          • A Real Libertarian

            Just for the record, those three responses came in less then 10 minutes.

            Also, Jackson Strong thinks non-toll roads are a waste of money.

          • Jackson Strong

            roads that are part of the public realm, such as city streets; or roads that are paid for entirely by taxing gas consumption do not need to be tolled. But yes, it is a waste of money if it requires subsidies! If its not public safety or education, almost every subsidy is by definition a waste of money. A subsidy is ongoing financial support for something cannot financially sustain itself.

          • Bob_Wallace

            A subsidy can be ongoing financial support for something cannot financially sustain itself but subsidies can be more than that.

            We subsidize nutrition for needy children because it means they will grow up healthier and save us money later on.

            We subsidize emerging technologies because helping them become competitive brings us benefits.

            What’s making little sense is subsidizing oil and coal when they are both highly profitable and the subsidies will not help move their costs lower.

  • Shiggity

    The Northeast corridor is where high speed rail works. That is where our only ‘high-speed’ train is and it makes a profit and is always full. DC -> Philly -> NY -> Boston would be awesome.

  • Wayne Williamson

    It would be cool to have one, but my guess is that just a regular high speed train that the afore mentioned countries have already built many of, would cost less than a billion and take just a couple of minutes more…just say’n…

  • mikgigs

    check the title – should be Build

  • mike_dyke

    Maglev please – I want to see where I’m going past.

    • Bob_Wallace

      They can play a video of what your streaking past on the screen in front of your seat.

      (How much of the countryside does one see at 30,000 feet with the shades down?)

    • Marcus Kornmehl

      I’m sure Hyperloop can integrate a tube with a continuous Perspex window OR do what some private jets are doing to reduce cost by putting in HD TV displays instead of windows with real time view of surroundings.

  • Marcus Kornmehl

    Hyperloop please. Maglev is so last century.

    • mtracy9

      Time to stop dreaming about something
      out of a Jetson’s cartoon.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Let’s see how the prototype works. This is an idea that seems headed toward a test.

      • Shiggity

        I disagree, Americans have to start dreaming big again.

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