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Old plan for region's high-speed train gets new life

Monday - 11/4/2013, 5:31am  ET

WASHINGTON - A pie-in-the-sky plan to build a train that could zip from D.C. to Baltimore in just 15 minutes, and to New York in just an hour, is getting some new life.

The group behind The Northeast Maglev says the plan would cost billions of dollars, but would provide huge benefits to the Northeast Corridor.

It would start with a stretch between D.C. and Baltimore. Originally, it was considered 10 years ago before analysis of ridership and costs led to the plans being scrapped.

But a new advisory board has been formed and is giving new life to the project. The board is led by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and includes former governors Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, George Pataki of New York and Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey, along with former secretaries of transportation Rodney Slater and Mary Peters and Under Armour's founder, Kevin Plank.

Northeast Maglev representatives tell the Baltimore Sun the Japanese government is supporting the proposal too. Japan has developed much of the technology for maglev trains, and Japanese companies could cash in on a large project. The trains can run faster than 300 miles per hour because they float above tracks, avoiding the friction that slows traditional trains.

The group says they have raised $50 million, and in addition to a number of other funding streams, also eventually hope for help from the federal government.

The current plan would put most of the tracks underground between D.C., BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport and Baltimore in order to avoid community opposition and allow for straighter, faster stretches of track. Putting more of the tracks underground will cost even more, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The Northeast Maglev is completely separate from Amtrak's work on high speed rail in the Northeast Corridor, and it is much more expensive, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Tickets on the Maglev would likely be more expensive than Acela tickets, a representative told the Baltimore Sun.

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