Japan offers to fund part of US high-speed rail project

Jan 08, 2011

Japan has offered to fund part of a project to build an ultra-fast train line between Washington and New York, which would revolutionize travel on the US east coast, a Japanese official said Friday.

In talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara proposed that the Japan Bank for International Cooperation would fund a portion of the first phase of a project to bring Maglev trains to the US, said Satoru Satoh, the Japanese embassy press attache.

The proposed first phase of the project would see a Maglev train, which can travel at speeds of up to 341 miles per hour (550 kilometers per hour), link Washington with Baltimore some 60 miles (100 kilometers) to the north and currently an hour's train ride away.

The Maglev line would eventually be extended to New York, more than 200 miles from Washington, putting the Big Apple and Baltimore closer to the capital in terms of travel time than many suburbs in Virginia and Maryland.

New York would be an hour away from Washington once the Maglev is up and running instead of the current four hours.

Baltimore, which is linked to Washington by a commuter train that takes an hour and 10 minutes, would be around a quarter of an hour away.

The proposal is still just that -- a proposal -- and has to be taken up with the US Department of Transportation, governors through whose states the trains would travel, and others.

Maehara's proposal is part of a renewed push for "economic diplomacy" by Japan, said Satoh.

Japan's Maglev and Shinkansen bullet trains are contenders for President Barack Obama's 13-billion-dollar project to develop high-speed rail travel in the United States, which at present is non-existent.

China, France and Germany are among other countries vying to sell their trains and technology to the Americans for the multi-billion-dollar project.

During a visit to last year, US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took a test ride on the ultra-fast magnetic levitation train, which hovers 10 centimeters (four inches) above the tracks and in 2003 reached a world record speed of 581 kilometers per hour (361 miles per hour) on a Japanese test track.

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User comments : 10

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5 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2011
Along with nuclear energy systems, would seem the only logical course of action.
not rated yet Jan 08, 2011
Goodness I hope this gets done. It would be the first significant improvement in American infrastructure in my entire life.
5 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2011
If you are over sixty, that would be sad. If you are under 6, not so bad.
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2011
Money won't be the problem. Govt regulations, rezoning, NIMBYs, etc. will make this 20 year project.
The money has been available for a high speed rail between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Permissions from local govts have not.
not rated yet Jan 08, 2011
Money won't be the problem. Govt regulations, rezoning, NIMBYs, etc. will make this 20 year project.
The money has been available for a high speed rail between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Permissions from local govts have not.

Which is true, because our governments at every leve, state, local, and federal, are largely either incompetent or else flat out owned by special interests groups who stand to lose something by modernizing our infrastructure.
not rated yet Jan 08, 2011
We need it, and we all know it will create massive amounts of jobs. I'm sure the local pols will be shuffled aside to get it done by their own constituents for standing in its path.
5 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2011
Funny how it wasn't so long ago that the US was the one selling advanced technology to the more backwards parts of the world...
5 / 5 (3) Jan 08, 2011
This would be so awesome. I watched a show years back about what we could do if we had unlimited funds at our present level of technology. Suffice it to say that an underground/underwater tunnel evacuated of all air, plus a maglev train equals Mach 5 transatlantic travel. I'd love to see such a thing. Hell, even an above ground vacuum tube maglev train would make me drool. I hope our newfound skill with carbon nanotubes and nano assembly allow us to build incredibly strong, cheap, and light tubes for this.
not rated yet Jan 10, 2011
Any current, 'advanced', transportation, technology implemented on a 10+ year construction schedule will be hopelessly obsolete upon completion.
not rated yet Jan 10, 2011
I'll gladly take a transportation system that's a decade out of date compared to one that's crumbling. However, I hope they don't let some artsy designer impose his vision of the future on the appearance. I hate those ridiculously ugly designs from the 70s that look like they're straight out of a B movie. Also, I think it would be wise to avoid integrating electronics into anything the user sees. It goes out of date way too fast. Just provide wireless Internet and let people use their own devices. Keep it classic, simple, clean, and polished -- and build it tough as nails and reliable.

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