Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida a Finalist for Levitation Train 7 States in Running to Produce Projects

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida a Finalist for Levitation Train 7 States in Running to Produce Projects

Article excerpt

BALTIMORE -- A magnetic levitation train that can reach speeds of up to 310 mph moved toward reality yesterday with the selection of project finalists in seven states.

A project in one of the states -- Maryland, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada or Pennsylvania -- will be picked next year for development and construction. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater announced $12 million in grants to study the seven "Maglev" projects.

Four other proposed projects -- one each in Colorado and Virginia and two in Alabama -- were rejected for unspecified reasons.

Proponents billed the technology as offering relief for congested highways and airports. The trains, using electromagnetic forces to lift the train above ground and free it of speed-reducing friction, could run about three times the speed of conventional trains.

"Every great accomplishment was first and for a period of time a dream," later said at the B&O Railroad Museum, with vintage locomotives and boxcars serving as a backdrop. "I'm delighted to give fire to this dream, this thought."

Maglev systems are already being tested in Germany and Japan, but no such system is in commercial service anywhere in the world. Critics say that while the technology works in test settings, many questions remain over full-scale operations and costs.

A transportation law last year authorized $1 billion to build one Maglev system, but Congress still needs to appropriate most of that money. A U.S. Maglev is not expected in full service for at least a decade, Slater said.

Maglev operates on basic magnetic principles: When two magnets are put together, opposite poles attract, similar ones repel. Either magnetic attraction or repulsion can be used to lift or push the car above the guideway. In both cases, the train moves as the magnetic field travels along the guideway.

To qualify for construction funding, sponsors must be able to show that trains will reach speeds of at least 240 mph, about three times the top speeds on most Amtrak routes. Researchers believe the trains can hit 310 mph.

A Baltimore-to-Washington trip could take 16 minutes instead of the current 35. …

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