Japan commits $2m to first maglev train in the US

The dream of a high-speed magnetic levitation (maglev) railway linking Baltimore and Washington D.C. was kept alive this week when Japan committed $2m to support a feasibility study on the proposed scheme.

Japan’s ambassador to the US, Kenichiro Sasae, announced the pledge after signinga memorandum of cooperation between his country and maglev train fan and Maryland state governor, Larry Hogan.

The pledge comes after the the US Department of Transport (DOT) agreed to give Maryland $27.8m in grants for engineering studies on the railway, which would whisk people between the two cities in just 15 minutes on floating trains reaching speeds of up to 500km/h.

Project proponents must put up 20% of the grants in match funding; Japan’s $2m is 7% of that.

Exceptionally keen to export its new maglev technology, Japan two years ago offered to make $5bn available for the 35km maglev rail link, which is estimated to cost more than $10bn in total.

In the US the idea has been taken up by The Northeast Maglev, a company set up to promote the railway, while Governor Hogan is also a strong backer, having requested the DOT grants after visiting Japan and riding on a maglev train there in June 2015.

Japan’s $2m pledge for the maglev railway was part of a wider cooperation agreement between it and Maryland, covering liquefied natural gas, life sciences, trade and investment and academics.

Image: A JR Central L0 series five-car maglev train undergoing tests on the Yamanashi Test Track in Japan (Saruno Hirobano /Wikimedia Commons)

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