Maglev is not the answer [Letter]

September 12, 2014

Everybody seems to think maglev is the answer, but what is the problem ("Supertrain is cool, but improve what we have right now," Sept. 7)?

If $10 billon were spent fixing the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel and the Amtrak line between Baltimore and Washington, you could get similar results. The French high-speed TGV train's speed record is just one mile per hour slower than the Japanese maglev speed record — and the French engineer was told not to go faster although he indicated that he still had more power in reserve.

It is not the train but the tracks that are the problem, and we know the answers to that — new straight rails that eliminate the curves. The Chinese built the first maglev line with German technology because the Germans canceled their project and built high-speed rail instead.

After building the single short test line in Shanghai, the Chinese canceled the entire rest of their plans and have built more than 6,000 miles of high-speed railroads across the length and breadth of China. As have Taiwan, Korea, Spain and the Netherlands. Several other countries are building high-speed rail, too.

I first rode maglev in 1972, and it is still looking for a sucker to buy this fancy gadget. The Japanese have no current plans to expand from their single line. They'd like to get a return on their investment by selling overseas — just as the Germans did to China.

Robert Reuter, Baltimore

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