News & Politics

High-Speed Maglev Train Hits a Big Snag

The project would zip between DC and Baltimore in 15 minutes.

Baltimore City is recommending against construction of a high-speed train that would shorten the trip between DC and Baltimore to a mere 15 minutes, a move that makes the project significantly less likely to happen. The magnetic-levitation train—maglev for short—harnesses magnetic force to keep railcars above an elevated track at speeds of up to 374 miles-per-hour. However, city leaders are urging against the project due to concerns about the negative impacts on Chesapeake waterways and the communities affected by the construction.

Baltimore City Department of Planning director Chris Ryer and Baltimore City Department of Transportation director Steve Sharkey laid out their concerns in a letter dated for May 14, first reported recently by the Baltimore Sun.

“The City of Baltimore has several concerns with the [Draft Environmental Impact Statement] related to equity, environmental justice, and community impacts,” write Ryer and Sharkey. “Additionally, the draft lacks a sufficient level of detail regarding current and future plans for the project which makes comprehensive analysis difficult.”

The train was intended to shuttle between DC, BWI Airport, and Baltimore, eventually expanding to offer a one-hour trip to New York. Baltimore Washington Rapid Rail, the company behind the Northeast Maglev, estimates the project would cost more than $10 billion to complete.

The maglev isn’t the only high-speed transit project around DC to stumble recently. Elon Musk also proposed a 15-minute train commute between DC and Baltimore—his Hyperloop concept. However, any mention of the project has been scrubbed from Musk’s tunneling firm’s website. It looks like we’ll be sticking to the MARC for now.

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Daniella Byck
Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture.