A $10 billion, high-speed maglev train was approved by the chambers of commerce for Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Northern Anne Arundel County, and Prince George’s County last month, reported the Associated Press.
The bullet train plan is an extension of the Northeast Maglev (SCMAGLEV), which aims to offer one-hour trips between Washington, D.C. and New York City. It has an estimated completion date of 2022, according to NortheastMaglev.com. WTOP reports it could start running by 2027.
A maglev train is a magnetically levitated train that does not need an engine. It uses superconducting magnets to levitate four inches above the ground. A Japanese maglev bulleted to 374 mph in one run, in 2016, according to the BBC. The DC to Baltimore route is 36 miles long, but would take just 15 minutes for the train. It would make a stop at BWI Airport.
The chambers of commerce say it would help economic development and local businesses, according to Fox 5 DC. Proponents believe it would alleviate the stress on roadways and help with heavy traffic loads, while others worry a tunnel with trains hurtling through would cause structural damage to homes above it.
“The Federal Railroad Administration and the Maryland Department of Transportation are preparing an Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate the potential impacts of constructing and operating a high-speed superconducting magnetic levitation,” SCMAGLEV states on their website.
SCMAGLEV claims it is eco-friendly, as it reduces emissions per passenger, and that the tunneling process should help the environment. Soil and clay will be brought to the surface, which can be used to restore underutilized farmland and wetlands, their website states. They also say that there will be silt fences and straw bales installed to minimize runoff into any nearby bodies of water, wetlands, roads, or other sensitive areas.
SCMAGLEV is one of the lightest and quietest large scale transit systems in the world, according to its website. It makes no contact with the guideway (no wheels), nor does it have a noisy engine, or connection to overhead wires. The only noise it generates is wind as it flies by.