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Transportation Bill Sets Aside $45 Million For MagLev Train 402

Posted by Soulskill
from the zoom-zoom dept.
tbischel tips us to news that the MagLev train project which would run from Las Vegas to Disneyland has received approval for $45 million in funding. The project has been in the planning stages for quite some time, and it was delayed further by a drafting error in a 2005 highway bill. "Derided by critics as pie in the sky, the train would use magnetic levitation technology to carry passengers from Disneyland to Las Vegas in well under two hours, traveling at speeds of up to 300 mph. It would be the first MagLev system in the U.S. The money is the largest cash infusion in the project's nearly 20-year history. It will pay for environmental studies for the first leg of the project."
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Transportation Bill Sets Aside $45 Million For MagLev Train

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  • Trains, US? (Score:5, Funny)

    by skeldoy (831110) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:13AM (#23692025) Homepage
    Trains in the US & A? Can this really be true?
    Surely this must involve burning of insane amounts of petroleum somehow! Maybe the magnets are powered by petroleum?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:08AM (#23692191)
      Trains in the US & A? Can this really be true? Surely this must involve burning of insane amounts of petroleum somehow! Maybe the magnets are powered by petroleum?

      He's a heretic. BURN HIM!
    • by denzacar (181829) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:06AM (#23692377) Journal
      It is not a train.

      Its a ride.
    • by tompaulco (629533) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @09:02AM (#23693037) Homepage Journal
      Trains in the US & A? Can this really be true?
      We have trains in the United States. I know. I just priced taking the train instead of the airplane for a possible upcoming vacation. It turns out that the train is more than twice as expensive as the plane and takes two days instead of 5 hours.
      The point was moot anyway as it turns out I am not in the class of people that can afford to go on vacation.
      • Re:Trains, US? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by larkost (79011) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @10:57AM (#23693775)
        I recently took the train from Philadelphia to San Francisco, and the trip was really nice. It took 3 1/2 days, but was in the same price range as flight tickets (it really depends on when you buy them). The ride was pleasent, and people aboard the train were very willing to talk (unlike on a flight). And the views were absolutely gorgeous.

        If you have the time, I would recomend the trip.

        Oh.. and if you are willing to sit in a chair the whole way you can get the trip for something like $100. I am not going to recommend that, but it is possible.
      • Re:Trains, US? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Urza9814 (883915) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @11:10AM (#23693853)
        Hmm. I take the train all the time. I suppose it may not be great for cross-country travelling, but you can go the entire way across PA in 5 hours for about $70. Business class, snack car...free drinks, power outlets, and you can actually use your cell phone. lol. Not to mention it's a _lot_ nicer. The business class on a plane are ancient seats, sometimes with holes where the padding is falling out, crammed together. It's horrible. In the space that a plane seats 30+ people, the train puts 15.
        • Re:Trains, US? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:45PM (#23694877) Homepage
          I was going to say the same thing. Trains can be good for shorter trips. You can get from downtown(ish) Ottawa, to downtown (real downtown) Toronto in 5 hours. The flight is only 45 minutes, but once you count check-in, security, boarding, taken-off, and travelling from the airport to downtown, you're looking at about the same amount of time anyway. Both are roughly the same price, but the train seats are a lot more comfortable, and the whole experience is much more pleasant.
          • Re:Trains, US? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by flyingsquid (813711) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @03:35PM (#23695687)
            I was going to say the same thing. Trains can be good for shorter trips. You can get from downtown(ish) Ottawa, to downtown (real downtown) Toronto in 5 hours. The flight is only 45 minutes, but once you count check-in, security, boarding, taken-off, and travelling from the airport to downtown, you're looking at about the same amount of time anyway. Both are roughly the same price, but the train seats are a lot more comfortable, and the whole experience is much more pleasant.

            I agree with you completely, but I'd argue that trains work best when they're connecting two mass transit systems together. In New York, you can hop on a subway to 34th St. Penn Station, and then jump on a train to Washington or Boston, and then take mass transit to your destination. It's a doorstep-to-doorstep solution. Disney Land to Vegas lacks that advantage. After arriving in Vegas, I'm going to need a car to get anywhere, so it starts making sense to drive, so you'll have that added flexibility and convenience of not needing to rent a car or take cabs.

            The only other angle I could see is that this would effectively allow you to hit both on a single vacation. The problem is that I don't see these markets overlapping much. Disneyworld sells a wholesome, innocent world of talking mice, princesses, and teacup rides. It's pure. It's where to go when you want a world that's unadulterated, and Vegas is where you go when you want adultery. Disney Land tries to be like Eden before the fall, innocent and sinless. Vegas is the city of sin, it's more Sodom and Gomorrah. It's about gambling, gorging yourself on buffets, going to the strip clubs for your buddy's bachelor party, maybe buying a hooker. It's trying to be more family-friendly than it used to be, but still... there's no way in hell I would go to Disney Land unless I had young children. And there is no way in hell I would go to Vegas with young children.

    • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gm a i l.com> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @09:46AM (#23693313) Homepage Journal
      Trains in the US & A? Can this really be true?

      Actually, the bulk of continental freight shipped in the USA is by rail. Have a look at the rolling stock of the likes of Union Pacific, Norfolk Suffolk or CSX, and you'll see that there's been quite a bit going on.

      For example, cars are just getting into gas electric hybrids, but the railroads have been running diesel electric hybrids now for decades. The locomotives are now into a new generation of hybrid technology.

      The fuel efficiency of these rail lines is staggering. One or two locomotives pull trains that can be two miles long!

      But you are preaching to the choir here. I love trains.
      • by jimicus (737525) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @10:21AM (#23693519)

        For example, cars are just getting into gas electric hybrids, but the railroads have been running diesel electric hybrids now for decades. The locomotives are now into a new generation of hybrid technology.
        They're not hybrids in the same sense of the word. A diesel electric train is basically a dirty great diesel electricity generator which powers an electric motor. There's no drive between diesel engine and wheels.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel-electric_locomotive#Diesel-electric [wikipedia.org]
        • by Firethorn (177587) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @10:39AM (#23693649) Homepage Journal
          I wouldn't call it 'dirty'. For a diesel they're quite clean, considering their power and size.

          There's no drive between diesel engine and wheels.

          I also wouldn't consider a mechanical link between the engine and the wheels a disabling factor for calling it a 'hybrid'. That's how GM is proposing the volt be set up, actually.

          What would disable it is that, unlike car hybrids, current generation diesel electrics don't have any significant levels of alternative storage - they can't store energy from stopping to get started again.

          Instead, the reason they use the electronics is that it's replacing the transmission - which would actually be more costly, less efficient and break sooner than the electronic setup. Oh, they'll use the electric motors to help them stop, saving brake pads, but instead of going to a battery the energy goes to a resister net on the roof of the locomotive.

          Personally, given that trains normally go for non-stop travel, I wonder if it might be better to leave the batteries in the station so the train doesn't have to haul them and electrify the rails, at least in switching yards and such, instead.
          • by njh (24312) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @12:23PM (#23694295) Homepage
            There are diesel-electric/electric locomotives:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electro-diesel_locomotive [wikipedia.org]

            They use them quite a bit in Europe. Europe also has a plethora of voltages (and a choice between 0Hz, 16.7Hz and 50Hz depending on the line). There are locomotives that can tap into any combination. The general trend in the Europe is for electrification reduce the noise and raising the voltage to increase the available power.
          • by Forbman (794277) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @12:26PM (#23694323)
            ...except GE is now making (and selling) a "true" hybrid locomotive. Yes, it has a big battery pack. It's intended to run on batteries for starting out in urban areas and storing some of the energy currently radiated away from regenerative braking.

            I think GE and EMD are working on hybrid switchers, too, but along the line of the Chevy Volt: engine runs generator, which keeps battery pack charged, or can provide additional on-demand electrical boost, but running on battery is main source of power, which is opposite of current car hybrid systems, where the battery pack provides the boost.
  • Critics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LaskoVortex (1153471) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:13AM (#23692027)

    Derided by critics as pie in the sky

    Where critics = oil companies and automobile manufacturers

    • Re:Critics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by azgard (461476) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:22AM (#23692069)
      Really? I am from Europe, and just have to wonder...

      What about building the first Maglev between Washington and New York? What about San Francisco and Los Angeles? What about making it actually useful?
      • I think they are more concerned with making it actually profitable.
        • by conureman (748753) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:16AM (#23692417)
          This is USA, home of AMTRAK. Profitable would be cause for concern. It absolutely must not provide a viable alternative to the current system. BART only runs because it is expensive and impractical. Think of the Oil Companies!
        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:29AM (#23692473)
          They would make a huge profit from a DC to NY train assuming it had stops in the big East Coast Cities. I grew up in Baltimore and it seems that almost everybody their worked in DC and had to drive all the way everyday. A lot of people would use it for business commutes and many college kids could use it to get home from school (UMD, GW etc) without car.
        • What about building the first Maglev between Washington and New York?
          I think they are more concerned with making it actually profitable.

          Really, the service between New York and D.C. is amongst Amtrack's most important routes. The only thing that service between two tourist traps would accomplish is public interest, and as a first generation demonstrator.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by LaskoVortex (1153471)

        Really? I am from Europe, and just have to wonder...

        Such a rail between LV and LA would be useful. This is a popular commute, both for recreation and business.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Las Vegas - Los Angeles maglev train would be useful, but not economically viable. The distance is too short for such speedy train.

          A good line would be Chicago-NY or Chi-LA. Being in the middle of the country has the advantage of a hub. Viable for tourism in summer, and supported by business commuters all year round.
      • Re:Critics (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hyperz69 (1226464) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:17AM (#23692229)
        I lived in Vegas 7 years. They NEED This. Even the expansion to 6 lanes between the cities was not enough. We are talking 400KM+ Of cars taillight to tailpipe on any given weekend! It's even a crazier route then VA to Washington DC.
        • Re:Critics (Score:5, Insightful)

          by yog (19073) * on Saturday June 07, 2008 @09:34AM (#23693247) Homepage Journal
          Good point, but what do the train riders do once they get there? LA and Vegas are car cities with scant public transportation. It's not enough just to have the inter-city leg. You need to have feeder buses or trolleys at each end, or short term car rentals, or... I don't know.

          Anyway, hopefully they'll get this thing off the ground and generate some me-too reactions from some of the other busy routes around the country. Boston-to-New York comes to mind, and Chicago-to-anywhere (St. Louis, Detroit, Des Moines).

          Eventually there should be a national high speed rail alternative to air travel, and we will see less airport congestion and, perhaps, a more humble attitude on the part of the airlines when they have some real competition for a change.

          But "should" does not translate into "will", unfortunately. The money and the political initiative just aren't there at this time.
      • Re:Critics (Score:5, Informative)

        by Gregory Arenius (1105327) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:36AM (#23692285)
        Disney land is in the LA Metro area which has a population of about 13,000,000 people while LV has a metro area of about 1,700,000 people. Most of the land between the two is desert while most of the land between DC and NYC is populated making a right of way much more difficult to obtain there. The way the summary states that it connects to Disneyland, while possibly true, is really designed to be deceptive. It would have been much more honest if it said connects to LA and LV. There exists a huge amount of both car and air traffic between the two cities. Even with the high price of gas and a recent expansion of the highway between the two cities the roads are still clogged. While I don't know if maglev is the right technology a solid case for high speed rail between LA and NV can certainly be made.

        Cheers,
        Greg
      • by spineboy (22918) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:09AM (#23692387) Journal
        There is already a "high speed" train that runs between New York and Washington D.C. - the Acela Express, for a commute time of 2 hours 48 min. It is limited to a paltry 75-150 MPH (120-240 KPH) due to track conditions. Mostly the speed is limited via the existing infrastructure, the bridges, tunnels, track closeness etc. Higher speeds would necessitate reinforcement of those structures, and the overhead electrical wires to withstand higher speeds. Much of the speed inhibition is in that the train needs to tilt to navigate the sharp rail curves. Pre-existing tracks are to close together to allow for high speed cornering that would require the trains to tilt, thus preventing train collisions between regular trains, and the leaning Acela Express. Of note, there are multiple at-grade crossings on this trains route - these are rarely found on other high speed train lines for obvious reasons.
        • by Skater (41976) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:50AM (#23692545) Homepage Journal

          Of note, there are multiple at-grade crossings on this trains route - these are rarely found on other high speed train lines for obvious reasons.
          No there aren't. During the Great Depression, the Pennsylvania Railroad spent a ton of money to improve the DC-NYC Northeast Corridor to eliminate all at-grade crossings. There are a few at-grade crossings north of New York (closer to Boston, actually), but that's not the section of the line you were talking about.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by weave (48069) *

            Yes and no. Yes, there are no more at-grade crossings except maybe near Boston and I think those have been eliminated. But there were some at-grade crossings that I have personal experience with. In Delaware crossing Red Mill Road and Harmony Road until the late 70s. The amount of signaling at those crossings was insane too since those trains went through there around 100+ MPH.

            http://preview.tinyurl.com/6qwspf [tinyurl.com] Link to google map of one of the former crossings, since replaced with overpass a few hundre

        • by ChrisMaple (607946) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @08:20AM (#23692873)
          Part of the reason that train speeds are severely limited is that they are built on the now-idiotic standard of a vehicle height exceeding 12 feet. Even though most of the mass is relatively low, the center of gravity could probably be cut by a factor of 3 if attention were paid to it. Trains should be 3 feet high and passengers loaded like peas in a pod. Then speeds would be limited by track roughness and other such factors, not tipping over because of centrifugal force.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TheLink (130905)
            "Trains should be 3 feet high and passengers loaded like peas in a pod. "

            I doubt that's a good idea, it's unlikely that you'd manage to convince people to put up with that AND the near requirement for passengers to wear diapers or something similar.

            If a trip takes more than a few hours and there are many passengers on the train the probability of someone needing to go to the loo is going to be very high.

            "Tall" trains can already go 250-300kph. How much faster will such midget trains be after sacrificing the
        • by legutierr (1199887) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @08:56AM (#23693007)
          Whatever its problems may be, the Acela is the fastest and easiest way to get from NYC to Washington. A flight might be of shorter duration, but when you factor in the inconvenience and delay of ticketing and security, and the time and cost of getting to the airport, the overall trip is faster. Plus you don't have to mess with those stupid ziplock bags, and you don't have to turn off your cell phone. I never fly between NY and DC, it's only the Acela.

          It would be great, though, if they improved the tracks to get the full speed out of the train.
      • Re:Critics (Score:5, Insightful)

        by amRadioHed (463061) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:27AM (#23692469)
        That's the first thing I though. High-Speed Rail [ca.gov] to San Francisco is what we really need, the current rail situation is a joke. A four hour trip from San Diego to San Francisco for under $100? Yes please!
    • Re:Critics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by canuck57 (662392) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @10:28AM (#23693577)

      Derided by critics as pie in the sky

      Where critics = oil companies and automobile manufacturers

      Did you read the article? Lets recap this:

      There is no train on the route Amtrak's Desert Wind between Los Angeles and Las Vegas was canceled in 1997 because of low ridership.

      Now what makes anyone think after the hoopla is over the drivers will take a maglev train?

      $140 a barrel? $200 a barrel? $300 barrel?

      Me, I drive because I like to drive. While today's $140 barrel hurts the budget, I will still drive. Not because I don't live any where near the train, I could take a bus or plane. But because at $100 it is still cheaper than golf for hours entertained. People like driving.

    • Derided by me too (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CdBee (742846) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @10:37AM (#23693627)
      the French national railway (SNCF) has proven time and time again that electric trains can easily achieve 300mph (a TGV hit 357mph on test in 2007)

      That's just 3mph slower than the fastest ever Maglev Monorail.. but it runs on standard gauge rail track that can be time-shared with commuter trains and railfreight traffic.. Heavy Rail in the USA is something that had its time then went away, but don't be surprised if it makes a return again.

      300mph trains between city-centre stations can compete with 600mph aeroplanes flying from heavily-secured out-of-town airports.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:14AM (#23692031)
    Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
    Like a genuine,
    Bona fide,
    Electrified,
    Six-car
    Monorail!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marge_vs._the_Monorail [wikipedia.org]
  • by onion2k (203094) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:15AM (#23692039) Homepage
    A huge construction project that would take place in during a recession/depression.. is this going to be this generation's Hoover Dam?

    Well, apart from the fact a dam is actually useful, and a train between two holiday resorts during a time when people have no money to spend on holidays is all kinds of pointless.
    • by apodyopsis (1048476) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:23AM (#23692073)

      ..a train between two holiday resorts during a time when people have no money to spend on holidays is all kinds of pointless.


      Not at all, if it proves the technology. Ensures people are happy to use it - and paves the may for a cheap, fast, and effective mass transit to try and tempt people away from cars.

      I bet the big automotive/oil firms are watching this like a hawk.

      After all, who wants to drive between the cities when you can do it in a fraction of the time, cost, and in air conditioned comfort whilst reading papers, sipping tea, and chomping biscuits.

      Many times in the UK I have wished we could reverse Beechings Axe.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beeching_Axe [wikipedia.org]

      Even more with the massive fuel price increase we have had here in the UK. The long term solution is to change demographics (get people living closer to work) and to ensure a cheap and viable mass transit alternative.

      • by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:13AM (#23692221) Homepage
        Come on, this technology is well proven, there's been a testtrack running for over twenty years at Siemens in Germany, a stretch of track has been taken into production between Hamburg and someplace else (can't remember) and a line between Shanghai and Pudong airport has been running for some years now.

        At the moment, it's still to expensive, and all countries/continents where passenger trains are common have extensive networks of traditional tracks ... and let's face it, the French technology in this case, the TGV, is almost as fast and runs on conventional tracks ( which, admittely, have to be purpose built for the TGV with shallower turns etc but still ).

        The technology is nice, proven but at the moment there's not really a business case to be made for longer stretches of MagLev tracks.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SlashWombat (1227578)
          So, like the american rocket program, you will now need to get yourself more German scientists just so you can come in second place.

          If the environmental study is going to cost 45 million, the construction costs are going to be multiple billions. Don't think it will ever make enough money to be profitable. Obviously a pork barrel project!
          • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @09:22AM (#23693163)

            Don't think it will ever make enough money to be profitable. Obviously a pork barrel project!
            "Ever" is a long time. Imagine DC without the Metro, what a nightmare. But where did it come from? When it was built, why wasn't it shot down by everybody thinking it's just too gosh darn hard and probably not worth it anyways? It seems we can't accomplish anything anymore, anything that would require new infrastructure is "impossible," so we sit here suffering and doing nothing about it.
        • by spineboy (22918) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:19AM (#23692431) Journal
          It would seem that Los Angeles to Las Vegas would be more population centered, thus insuring better profitability.

          As far as mag-lev - why? Building a proven TGV type of track, would allow other trains to use it as well, also aiding in cost-benefit. Plan on multiple side junctions to allow the TGV type train to pass the slower trains, thus permitting dual use for freight, etc. I can't imagine the mag-lev train to be that much more efficient, since fuel cost , at those speeds, is all about fighting wind resistance, and not rolling resistance.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Solandri (704621)

            As far as mag-lev - why? Building a proven TGV type of track, would allow other trains to use it as well, also aiding in cost-benefit. Plan on multiple side junctions to allow the TGV type train to pass the slower trains, thus permitting dual use for freight, etc. I can't imagine the mag-lev train to be that much more efficient, since fuel cost , at those speeds, is all about fighting wind resistance, and not rolling resistance.

            Why are companies investing in optical and quantum computing when current semico

        • by conureman (748753) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @07:03AM (#23692579)
          The techniques being tested are for tax-dollar extraction. It is extremely complex and requires lots of study and careful planning. Transportation is just a side-effect.
      • by Wowsers (1151731)
        Good luck to thinking high speed trains are good. When you have science / technologically uneducated morons running a government, the money to build an economy is instead diverted to buy votes to keep the moron government in power. Recently coming up with the following nonsense...
        http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/transport/article4075781.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

        Britain is to be left out of Europe's high-speed rail revolution because the Government has decided that 200mph trains are bad for the environment.

        Despite repeated promises to consider the benefits of a dedicated new line capable of carrying passengers from London to Scotland in less than three hours, ministers are thinking again.

        In a letter obtained by The Times, Tom Harris, the Rail Minister, said: "The argument that high-speed rail travel is a 'green option' does not necessarily stand up to close inspection. Increasing the maximum speed of a train from 200kph [125mph - the current maximum speed of domestic trains] to 350kph leads to a 90 per cent increase in energy consumption."

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jimicus (737525)

          Tom Harris, the Rail Minister, said: "The argument that high-speed rail travel is a 'green option' does not necessarily stand up to close inspection. Increasing the maximum speed of a train from 200kph [125mph - the current maximum speed of domestic trains] to 350kph leads to a 90 per cent increase in energy consumption."

          So instead everyone who can flies, which is so much better for the environment.

          And this man's the Rail Minister? Sweet Jesus.

        • Wow, I could have sworn you were talking about the US there for a second. Did we trade you some of our Republican legislators in exchange for sending UK troops to Iraq?
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Atzanteol (99067)
            Do you really think the US invented and has a monopoly on stupid politicians?
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by tmalone (534172)
              Not a monopoly, but we were recently granted a patent. You'll be getting a letter from our lawyers soon.
    • Sorry, a $45 millions budget is not huge. In France, 300 km of a TGV lines cost exceed the 3 billion euros. (See that [wikipedia.org] in French; remember that 'milliard' in French = 1E9 = billion in English). And the LGV line is doing well. And I am not ashamed that it is funded by French taxpayers money. I wish -for American people- that the next USA administration will actually fund (with dozens of billions of US$, not dozens of millions) a better transport system in the US.
      • by Skater (41976) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:58AM (#23692561) Homepage Journal
        Won't happen. It'd be nice but it won't happen.

        I read Trains magazine religiously each month. This month there was an article about a train (Amtrak) that Missouri pays for to run between St. Louis and Kansas City (IIRC). Ridership on the train was very good, but unfortunately the track it uses has a lot of freight trains as well, so the Amtrak trains are frequently late, and ridership is declining. Missouri did a study and found that it'd cost $45 million to improve the line, and they allocated $10 million to double track a few sections.

        Meanwhile, as the article points out, if Missouri instead decided to build a 6-lane highway, the federal gov't would kick in 80% of the funding.

        Sanity. It just won't happen.
    • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:53AM (#23692549)
      It's not as big a boondoggle as you think. It could pave the way for essentially obseleting air travel between city centers for trips under 600 miles in distance due to the 300+ mph cruising speed of maglev trains.

      For example, Chicago could become a MAJOR hub for maglev trains, with these lines going from Chicago in a spoke-like fashion:

      1) To Milwaukee, WI-Madison, WI-Eau Claire, WI-Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN
      2) To Rockford, IL-Davenport, IA-Des Moines, IA-Council Bluffs, IA-Omaha, NE
      3) To Champaign, IL-Saint Louis, MO-Columbia, MO-Kansas City, MO-Wichita, KS
      4) To Indianapolis, IN-Cincinnati, OH-Louisville, KY
      5) To South Bend, IN-Toledo, OH-Cleveland, OH-Erie, PA-Buffalo, NY
      6) To Grand Rapids, MI-Lansing, MI-Detroit, MI

      Given that maglev trains aren't limited by the width constraints of standard gauge rail, you can create trains that could seat 500 passengers per train or more travelling every 18 to 20 minutes on the same route. You would actually encourage people to not fly or drive between these two cities due to the very fast transit times.
      • by canuck57 (662392) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @10:41AM (#23693663)

        1) To Milwaukee, WI-Madison, WI-Eau Claire, WI-Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN 2) To Rockford, IL-Davenport, IA-Des Moines, IA-Council Bluffs, IA-Omaha, NE 3) To Champaign, IL-Saint Louis, MO-Columbia, MO-Kansas City, MO-Wichita, KS 4) To Indianapolis, IN-Cincinnati, OH-Louisville, KY 5) To South Bend, IN-Toledo, OH-Cleveland, OH-Erie, PA-Buffalo, NY 6) To Grand Rapids, MI-Lansing, MI-Detroit, MI

        And if appropriately managed, likely would cost less than the war in Iraq/Afghanistan. And employed Americans doing it. Better yet, something to show for the trillions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Provocateur (133110)
      You think it's only for holidays? You obviously haven't spoken to any Las Vegas hooke...er I mean businessmen. In the tourism industry.
  • by steeljaw (65872) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:16AM (#23692047) Homepage Journal
    Start your day shaking hands with Mickey and in under 2 hours you can be getting a blow from Minnie! Woot Woot! Engineering has cum a long way :p
  • Bizarre (Score:5, Informative)

    by jdub_dub (874345) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:18AM (#23692053) Homepage Journal
    So a route which was cancelled because of low ridership... is getting the most expensive trainset in the country?
    • by Rolgar (556636)
      Why was ridership low? Because it was too expensive? Too slow? Too inconvenient?

      If this becomes active, there will be three ways to travel this route for most people, auto, plane, or maglev. People are going to make the decision based on different priorities, but if this is faster than the two alternatives (taking into account waiting to board both the maglev and plane, and convenience to the station/airport), and is cheaper than the alternatives, and has an environmental positive on top of that, it cou
      • by vidarh (309115)
        20 times as many people is highly unlikely. The French TGV for example can take around 550 passengers in a single bi-level train set, and while they have experimented with coupling multiple train sets together, it wasn't considered a good option due to the impracticalities of extremely long platforms.

        In London passenger trains are typically 12 cars for congested lines, and that seems to be the practical limit in terms of length - on stations where entry to the platforms are from one end, people only both

    • its not like Barbara Boxer doesn't have a lot of influence either.

      C'mon, all that changed in 2006 is that the side in power butters their bread on the bottom instead of the top

      Sometimes when I think of Democrats and Republicans all I can see is that horrible Star Trek episode Let that be your last battlefield... meaning who can tell the difference?
  • by ThatbookwritingWheel (553383) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:18AM (#23692055) Homepage
    The transrapid project has had a similar length timeframe, and the only feasible implementation (munich to munich airport) was finally shot down a couple of weeks ago. Costs where double of what was originally projected. While maglev is a really cool technology, it is not as brilliant in real life due to the high costs and the competition from airtravel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transrapid [wikipedia.org]
    • by Haeleth (414428)

      While maglev is a really cool technology, it is not as brilliant in real life due to the high costs and the competition from airtravel

      Things change. The Transrapid project in Germany might simply have been too early; it was scrapped because it had already cost so much that it was not politically viable to continue with it.

      Now, take a close look at the current trends in the price of oil, and scan the news stories about airline share prices plummeting. Is air travel really going to stay so competitive in th

  • by Starvingboy (964130) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:19AM (#23692061)
    From the very short article

    There is no train on the route--Amtrak's Desert Wind between Los Angeles and Las Vegas was canceled in 1997 because of low ridership.
    This has to be a joke/troll. 45 Mil for the environmental study for a already failed train route? I don't know if I should laugh or cry.
    • by jmv (93421) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:50AM (#23692137) Homepage
      And how long did the previous train take. If it took 8 hours, then maybe it's the reason it didn't succeed. That being said, if you're going to build a maglev train, you might as well build it between two major cities, like New York to Washington.
      • by GregPK (991973)
        There really is nothing between these two cities. So it would probably be about 4 hours. With a Maglev I could see like an hour maybe a little less. It really doesn't make much sense.

        I think they'd be better off doing LA to San Jose AMtrack station where riders would have the option of getting on another train for SF.
        • by vidarh (309115)
          LA to San Jose is too far unless there's enough other attractive destinations in between to make it sustainable.

          If there's one thing worth learning from trains in Europe it's that high speed train routes are mainly competitive if they're short enough that their lower speed (compared to planes) doesn't cancel out the advantage of shorter travel to/from the city centres and reduced security/checkin times.

          London to Paris for example is very competitive in time:

          The stations on either end are in the city c

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by evilviper (135110)

        That being said, if you're going to build a maglev train, you might as well build it between two major cities, like New York to Washington.

        Los Angeles and Las Vegas are pretty-damn-big cities. What's more, the traffic traveling between the two on a regular basis is enormous, and the length of the route in addition to the congestion means getting people out of their cars could be a HUGE win.
    • by Mike1024 (184871) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:48AM (#23692327)

      45 Mil for the environmental study for a already failed train route? I don't know if I should laugh or cry.
      You ain't seen nothing yet. This is a 250 mile train track [usatoday.com] - That's 400km - while the Japanese Linimo [wikipedia.org] maglev cost $100 million per km (for 9km) while the Shanghai Maglev Train [wikipedia.org] cost $1.33 billion for 30.5 km - $43 million per km.

      The French LGV Est [wikipedia.org] is 300 km and cost 4 billion euros - $6 billion. $21 million a mile.

      Or if you look at the British London-to-channel-tunnel rail link, it cost £5.2 billion ($10 billion) for 108 km [wikipedia.org] - $100 million a mile.

      Even if economies of scale get the price down to $10 million per km the cost will be $4 billion.
      • by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:42AM (#23692517)

        Even if economies of scale get the price down to $10 million per km the cost will be $4 billion.
        Let me see if I can convert that to units I can understand...I guess Libraries of Congress per second, Olympic Swimming Pools, and rods per hogshead have the wrong dimensions... how about 0.02 Wars on Terror, 10 bridges to nowhere, or 20 unmanned space probes?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mike1024 (184871)
          Let me see if I can convert that to units I can understand [...] how about 0.02 Wars on Terror

          In discussions about US government programs I often hear Iraq war comparisons. It's understandable - there are a lot of exciting things we could have done with the $500 billion we've spent in Iraq.

          However, we've spent that money; we can't un-spend it. So we don't have $500 billion sitting around waiting for an application. What we have is a toilet that's had $500 billion flushed down it, a budget deficit and $9,410 [brillig.com]
    • I guess this means the 2 other pilot projects - which probably would see some ridership - Pittsburgh or Baltimore... have been shelved forever.
  • With that much funding, we can build a whole two inches of track. Gotta tell you, that'll really help cut down on my commute.
  • I mean, what else would you use to connect Disneyland to Las Vegas? Flying carpets?

    On a side note, the MagLev in Shanghai was good fun ... the cars on the highway it runs next to seemed to move backwards when it hit peak speed of 437 km/h. However, that was only a twenty minute ride, somewhat like a rollercoaster ... a two hour ride would wear the novelty pretty quick.
  • drop in the bucket (Score:3, Informative)

    by thefirelane (586885) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:52AM (#23692149)
    They shouldn't waste the money to even begin looking at such an idea. Just take a look at the Transrapid project [wikipedia.org] that was recently scrapped in Germany. For roughly 40km of track, linking Munich and the Airport, the final cost projection came out to 3 billion euros ($4.7268 billion)! What a waste.
  • by FurtiveGlancer (1274746) <AdHocTechGuy@aol.QUOTEcom minus punct> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:57AM (#23692163) Journal
    From a place where one makes memories with the kids, to a place where one wishes nothing remembered.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    California High-Speed Rail
    http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/

    About time the United States became like the other industrialized countries, don't you think?
  • This project will come out to be like 300 billion dollars in today's money. I'm pretty sure the sand isn't good for the maglev mechanisms either, so it would need high ridership just to cover the maintenence costs. On the other hand, this is probably the only area that this project would be possible. The Boston-Washington metropolitan axis is too densely populated to support maglev construction. Just buying the land here to build it would cost in the tens of billions, and I'm sure most towns wouldn't want i
  • A nice PR stunt, $45m will get about 2km (1.2 miles) of Maglev track (if using the BEST figures quoted in Wiki article).
    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_levitation_train [wikipedia.org]:

    The Shanghai maglev cost 9.93 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) to build.... China aims to limit the cost of future construction extending the maglev line to approximately 200 million yuan (US$24.6 million) per kilometer.

  • Even Amtrak has track maintenance issues, and how are we to expect anybody to be able to maintain a MagLev system in the US of A? If they've given up in Japan (where they are amazing with their trains), here this is like funding a ladder to the moon. Seriously.
  • by haakondahl (893488) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @07:05AM (#23692583)
    Gosh--if only the technological prowess and unparalleled economic might of the United States could somehow transport us between fairy tale wonderlands and our hookers and gambling--a little faster.

    What a world we might make then.

  • I remember it as an unending procession of nothing, particularly Barstow. ~
  • by Toreo asesino (951231) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @08:32AM (#23692913) Journal
    The French made their TGV go much faster than 300Mph on normal tracks by basically giving it bigger wheels - 352Mph to be precise.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6521295.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    Why pay so much for a technology giving you so little? MagLev isn't cheap. You could just copy the French...........ah what am I saying...

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