High-speed train proposed to connect NYC and D.C. in an hour

Japan has pitched the maglev train—the fastest in the world—to the U.S. with an offer to help finance the project

The Amtrak train, soon to be replaced by Japan's high-speed alternative?

The Amtrak train, soon to be replaced by Japan's high-speed alternative? Photograph: Lexcie / Wikimedia Commons

Next year, Japan will start construction on an intercity line for the fastest train in the world. Called the "maglev" because the method uses magnetic levitation (which makes the cars appear to float), Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pitched the high-speed rail system to the United States for the Northeast Corridor. On Amtrak, getting from New York City to Washington, D.C., takes nearly three hours; using maglev technology, which has allowed trains to reach up to 360 miles per hour in tests, it would take just an hour, making it even faster than flying.

What's more, Japan has offered to help finance the massive project by paying for construction of the first leg of the line, from the nation's capital to Baltimore, which would cost several billion dollars. Why, you might wonder? It seems Japan is seeking to reassert its global reputation as a technological superpower by bringing the record-breaking train overseas. Last weekend, a group of former politicians, including former New York governor George E. Pataki, took a test ride of the train in central Japan. The dignitaries are on the advisory board of The Northeast Maglev, a company that wants to bring the technology to the East Coast.

So, what are the odds of this actually happening? Not great; numerous high-speed transportation alternatives have been proposed for the busy Northeast Corridor to no avail. Plus, financially ailing Amtrak is in no state to take on such a monumentally pricey project. Even in Japan there has been criticism of the enterprise as costs rise—they currently stand close to $100 billion for the Tokyo–Osaka line. Northeast commuters, don't hold your breath—for now, Acela remains your best bet.

(h/t The New York Times and Slate)

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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)


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