Letters

LETTERS

March 27, 2009

Make maglev part of rail expansion

Ted Venetoulis is, pardon the pun, right on track with his suggestion that the corridor from Washington to Boston should be linked by a maglev system ("Maglev opportunity," Commentary, March 20).

In fact, our entire national rail network needs to be upgraded and expanded, along with all commuter rail networks and local mass transit (subway and light rail) systems. This is critical to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and, more important, bringing an end to global warming.

To go ever further, let me suggest that GM be retooled to make "cars" for maglev as well as the upgraded and expanded national rail network, commuter rail networks, light rail and subway cars, and any other forms of mass transit.

That would most certainly create jobs.

Linda K. Brown, Baltimore

Better alternatives to costly maglev

The picture showing a maglev train gliding through the Chinese countryside is lovely but does not tell the whole story ("Maglev opportunity," Commentary, March 20).

The Chinese government had planned to build many miles of maglev lines across the country, but the Shanghai line was so expensive and troublesome that no more has been built. Instead, China has built hundreds of miles of conventional high-speed rail lines.

In Germany, plans for a maglev line from Hamburg to Berlin were dropped as being too expensive, and conventional high-speed rail was built instead.

Several things are wrong with the maglev concept. Maglev is terribly expensive because of the infrastructure (the track). Maglev trains cannot operate on other tracks, nor can other trains run on maglev tracks. Conventional high-speed trains can run on old tracks to reach their new high-speed rails.

Maglev trains are not "green" because they require almost three times as much power to function as other trains. In addition to the power needed to pull them forward, they must be lifted (levitated) off the track and held in place horizontally to keep them from wandering off the track.

Mr. Venetoulis is right that we should be doing what the Europeans, Japanese and Chinese have been doing for decades. But they are building high-speed railroads, not maglev.

George Tyson, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Baltimore Area Transit Association.

Illegals themselves to blame for woes

I read where some want to paint the government as the bad guy because an illegal immigrant has an 8-year-old son who became depressed when his father was arrested ("Failing families," Commentary, March 11, and "Learning to love aliens among us," letters, March 20).

This man, this lawbreaker, is the cause of this problem. If he had robbed a bank or got caught selling drugs, you wouldn't hear these complaints about locking up a lawbreaker.

Illegal immigrants bring it on themselves and on their families by coming here illegally. They are the ones to blame for what happens to their families when they are caught.

Jim Krug, Baltimore

Congress can set a salary example

Congress is outraged. Lawmakers stumble over each other to get in front of cameras to lambaste executives in the private sector for accepting raises and bonuses that they did not earn ("House votes to recoup most of AIG bonuses," March 20).

They claim that these business executives have ruined their companies by leading them into too much debt.

Perhaps members of Congress should set an example, and refuse to vote themselves any more raises in their own salaries until the time comes when they can balance their own federal budget. What are the chances?

Iver Mindel, Cockeysville

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