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.