The U.S. government has approved a study into a high-speed train project between Washington D.C. and New York that could transport passengers between the two cities in just an hour, according to reports.
On Saturday, the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration approved a grant of $27.8 million to a private company called Northeast Maglev to study the maglev technology, or magnetic levitation, in which cars are levitated and propelled by magnetic force. The train could whisk passengers around at over 500 kilometers per hour (300 mph), and the first leg of the project could connect Washington to Baltimore in 15 minutes at a cost of about $10 billion.
The technology “will be a great asset to the busy Northeast Corridor,’’ Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who first proposed the idea to U.S. President Barack Obama in 2014, has been an enthusiastic proponent of the super-fast train system, going so far as to pledge $4 billion in loans to the U.S. government to kick off the Washington-New York line.
Officials of Northeast Maglev told the Journal that the federal funding will be used for planning and engineering analysis, and environmental and safety reviews among other things.
Maglev technology is already used for short routes around the world, but is yet to be deployed on longer routes as the technology can be very expensive. A maglev train made by Central Japan Railway Co. set a world record for speed in April by clocking a maximum speed of 590 kph, breaking its own record of 581 kph, set in 2003.
In 2010, a bid to secure funding for a maglev line by Maryland’s Department of Transportation was rejected by the Federal Railroad Administration, declaring it “not ready.”