Maglev: bold, visionary and worthwhile [Letter]

September 08, 2014

Kudos to Japan Rail and its promoters in the U.S. for their ingenuity and persistence in advancing the fortunes of magnetic levitation rail along the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C. to New York ("Billions lined up for 'maglev,'" Sept. 4).

As the project manager for past studies of Baltimore-Washington maglev feasibility for the federal and state transportation departments, I am convinced that 300 mile per hour rail service from Washington to Baltimore and ultimately on to New York will revolutionize travel along the Northeast and transform the recreational, business, tourist and commuter travel between Northeast cities.

Andy Kunz, a lobbyist for the steel wheel rail industry and no fan of maglev, is quoted in your article as being skeptical of its feasibility and quotes some estimates as demonstrating that the cost of constructing maglev may be five times the cost of conventional rail. I can cite other estimates that show the two technologies as having comparable construction costs. Even if initial construction costs for maglev are somewhat higher, these will be more than offset by maglev's higher speeds and resulting higher ridership and revenues and the significantly lower operating and maintenance costs of frictionless maglev operation.

It is time for the U.S. to return to its past glories of big projects like the Erie and Panama canals, intercontinental railroad and interstate highway program when the U.S. was admired by the world for its bold and imaginative projects. Maglev along the Northeast can continue that tradition.

Jack Kinstlinger, Towson

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