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Japanese JR-Maglev  (Source: Yosemite)
Government funnels $45M into maglev proposal.

President Bush signed a transportation bill that will help fund a high speed maglev train between Disneyland and Las Vegas. The initial $45M investment will be used for environmental studies to evaluate construction impact on one portion of the proposed maglev route.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., showed support of the project and said the maglev train "will safely and efficiently move people between southern California and Las Vegas."

As more nations begin to roll out maglev train systems, critics in the U.S. grow increasingly frustrated over the lack of support of organized high speed trains in the United States.

With speeds up to 300 MPH, the maglev train will be able to transport passengers between the two locations, about 250 miles apart, in less than two hours. Most drivers who go from the Los Angeles or Anaheim area to Las Vegas are forced to take Interstate 15, but the highway routinely is clogged with gridlock during rush hour.

Congress must now choose the maglev system over other train projects under consideration by the government, including a diesel-electric train that was proposed after a 2005 funding mishap that delayed the Disneyland-Las Vegas line. Japan was the first nation to launch a diesel-hybrid train system, but the train was twice as expensive to build as a regular train.

The United States Maglev Coalition (USMC) is an organization wanting to develop maglev technology in the U.S. The group helped the federal government fix a September 2005 report that "unfairly and erroneously criticized maglev's costs while ignoring its benefits."

Maglev trains are extremely expensive to create, so $45M could easily lead to a multi-billion dollar investment. The Shanghai maglev train network cost almost $30M per mile to create, and a proposed route in Japan is estimated to cost up to $82B to complete.

Germany, Canada, England, China and Japan are included in the small selection of countries that either have working maglev systems or are testing maglev technology.

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waste of money
By TonyB on 6/9/2008 12:01:20 AM , Rating: 2
...There is no train on the route — Amtrak's Desert Wind between Los Angeles and Las Vegas was canceled in 1997 because of low ridership.

quoted from the sourced article. if there was low ridership back then, what has changed today to make this route viable? and if it is viable why not just build a conventional route for the fraction of the cost?

this whole deal seems shady.

RE: waste of money
By Jedi2155 on 6/9/2008 12:07:21 AM , Rating: 2
Although a maglev might seem more interesting to those technically inclined and also might get more ridership because it would be easier for tourist to go from one tourist location to another as someone suggested.

The idea actually doesn't sound that bad as I would be very interested in going on this train as I live less than 10 miles from Disneyland.

RE: waste of money
By Doormat on 6/9/2008 12:09:02 AM , Rating: 5
Because of the way Amtrak works - they run their trains on tracks owned by others (in this case, the Union Pacific RR), so they're a lower priority. UPRR's freight trains get priority, and that can lead to delays and other problems for the train.

The train also only goes 55mph or so, while the traffic on 15 between LV and LA usually go anywhere between 75 and 100mph (yes, you read that right, 100mph, I've driven between LV and LA many times and its scary to see how fast they pass you at 75mph - and I've also been in a 15 passenger van doing 100mph, and we managed to get back from LA to LV in under 3 hours including a gas/bathroom stop).

RE: waste of money
By EntreHoras on 6/9/2008 10:55:11 AM , Rating: 3
C'mon! 100mph is not that much... if you ask Speed Racer.

RE: waste of money
By WTFiSJuiCE on 6/9/2008 12:21:25 AM , Rating: 2
if there was low ridership back then, what has changed today to make this route viable?

Think about how fast conventional trains are versus the cost of gas per gallon in the year 1997 and I think its pretty obvious to understand why there was less consumer interest in train commuting. =\

Gas @ $4+/gallon gets people much more interested in mass transit. Sure Maglev is expensive to invest in but can you really b**** about pricing right now w/ the way oil is going?

All they need is a way to demonstrate Maglev's benefits and hopefully it impresses those w/ connections to big fundraisers cause the current system is teh sux0r. =\

RE: waste of money
By FITCamaro on 6/9/2008 6:29:51 AM , Rating: 2
Even with gas @ $4.00 (well more in California), $30 million dollars per mile does not sound that enticing. Then theres maintenance and I'm sure its expensive. It sounds like a program that will cost billions and take forever to turn any kind of profit. Then theres the fact that a maglev train takes energy and California isn't exactly the energy king. Unless you use natural magnets of course.

To me if you're going to build something like this, you should do it along a route where people have to take it, not they want to. Like a highly congested traffic route people take to work. LA to Disneyland is a tourist gig.

RE: waste of money
By spluurfg on 6/9/2008 6:39:44 AM , Rating: 3
To me if you're going to build something like this, you should do it along a route where people have to take it, not they want to. Like a highly congested traffic route people take to work. LA to Disneyland is a tourist gig.

I think it'd work great for something like SF, where the terminus has a very well established public transportation system. This area, however, is already well served by the Caltrain and BART, and the 2 hour trainride to San Jose is dictated significantly by the frequent stops.

I'm all for relieving traffic around LA, but the city area is still spread out and very much a driving zone -- an inter-city mass transit system like this would have to be matched by itnra-city public transporation development, or else people wouldn't use it. I think that's the attraction of a Disney-Vegas link -- while it's definitely a tourist thing, while in Disney or Vegas, people can get around on foot or by public transportation. An LA-terminated link could fail because of a failure of municipal transportation.

RE: waste of money
By rykerabel on 6/10/2008 12:53:36 PM , Rating: 2
spot on

local public transit is the only limit to US interstate public transit.

US people have to have their cars and most won't settle for a rental.

so, yes, tourist sites are about the only place that could get away with this currently.

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