BALTIMORE, Md. - Think of all the things you can do in fifteen minutes, now imagine going from Baltimore to D.C. in that amount of time. Seems impossible, but a U.S. company is working to build a train that does just that.
Northeast Maglev, the company trying to bring the 300+ miles per hour magnetic levitation train to the Northeast Corridor, said the project is making constant progress but it’s still roughly 10 years away.
“The price tag to build the project is north of $10 billion,” said Wayne Rogers, chairman & CEO of The Northeast Maglev, LLC.
On Wednesday, the Japanese ambassador to the U.S. announced that his government will pledge $2 million dollars to the project. A drop in the bucket, but Rogers said it's all beginning to add up.
“In the early stages, the private sector has already invested over $60 million in this, the federal government is going to be putting in another $28 million, and the Japanese government is putting in $2 million toward the success of the project,” Rogers said.
More than the dollar amount, Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn said they’re expressing their interest in seeing the project through.
“I think it's interesting that it comes from the Government of Japan, which is an indication of their commitment to the use of the technology, which only they have developed,” said Secretary Rahn.
While MDOT and the state government are helping to facilitate the project, they won't be contributing to it. Maglev is a mostly privately funded train, but it has the support of government officials. Secretary Rahn and Governor Larry Hogan rode a Maglev train in Japan last year and saw firsthand what the Northeast transportation network is missing.
“Incredibly smooth you could easily stand in the aisle and pour coffee and it wouldn’t be different from doing it in your kitchen,” said Rahn. “In Japan, they call it a flight and they say, ‘the flight will board now,’ and you get on board and I guess that would technically be correct because it’s four inches off the ground.”
He added that people have a reason to be skeptical that this future train won't materialize, but he's feeling confident that travelers here will be flying sometime soon.
“They have achieved a number of milestones as they are going along this path, so we have not seen an indication yet that would they're not going to do it,” Rahn said.
Rogers said it’s too soon to say how much tickets will cost, but he believes it will be affordable.
Next steps for the project include studies on safety as well as the environmental impact. Baltimore to D.C. is the first leg scheduled to be built, but the track will eventually extend to New York City. A trip from Baltimore to New York could one day take just 45 minutes.