Baltimore–Washington Superconducting Maglev Project

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Baltimore–Washington Superconducting Maglev
Type Maglev
System Maryland Transit Administration[1]
Status Proposed
Locale Baltimore, Maryland, Anne Arundel County, MD
Washington, D.C.
Termini Camden Station (North)
Union Station (South)
Stations 3
Character At-grade, elevated, and underground
Line length 39.8 mi (64.1 km)

The Baltimore–Washington Superconducting Maglev Project is a proposal from the United States cities of Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., to build a 39.8-mile (64.1 km) maglev train system between their respective central business districts. It is the first segment of the planned Washington-New York Northeast Maglev project.

Proposed construction and progress of project[edit]

Section 1218 of the "Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century" created a National Magnetic Levitation Transportation Technology Deployment Program. The program is administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), a unit of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The objective of the program is to demonstrate high-speed maglev technology in commercial service through a project of about 40 miles in length, so that it can be considered later in the century for implementation in a longer distance intercity corridor application. Section 1218 envisioned $1 billion in federal funding for a single demonstration system which must be matched by other sources 2 to 1. FRA selected seven projects for further study in May 1999, and they received $55 million in further funding to develop their proposals. Of these seven, Baltimore-Washington and Pittsburgh advanced to next stage as semi-finalists in April 2001.[2] Federal funding of the project development continued through fiscal year 2004. However, due to legislation passed by the State of Maryland in 2004, the Baltimore-Washington project dropped out and did not receive federal funding for fiscal year 2005. Instead, the program funded Pittsburgh and a line between Las Vegas and Anaheim in fiscal year 2005, with all federal funding removed from the program after that year.[3] The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 revived federal funding of intercity high-speed rail, particularly in the context of the Las Vegas to Anaheim route. Interest increased for the Baltimore to Washington, D.C., project in 2015 when Maryland Governor Larry Hogan visited Japan to ride an advanced prototype maglev train which traveled at 311 miles per hour (500 kph)[4] and some $28 million of U.S. funding was tapped to study the project.[5]

Proposed stations for the bid include Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and Union Station in Washington, D.C.[6] The construction plans for the Hilton Baltimore allocate a specific amount of space underground for a maglev station.

A maglev would have made the transportation infrastructure of the two cities more appealing to the United States Olympic Committee. The cities lost in their joint 2012 Olympic bid; however, representatives from the two cities have stated that they are interested in a joint bid for the 2024 Olympics.[7]

The project received federal approval for a continued funding study in January 2001. The project issued a DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) and public hearings were scheduled for December 8–16, 2003, and online comments were being accepted until January 30, 2004. The project is still in planning stages and has not received any approval beyond funding study. The project hit legislative snags in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

Funding for the project was uncertain as of November 2006. Maryland Senate Bill (SB508) passed in 2004, forbids the state spending any money from any source for the purpose of studying, developing or constructing a maglev system in the state.[8]

The Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2005 allows the Department of Transportation to spend up to $1,000,000 in federal funds for the purpose of completing a final environmental impact statement on a magnetic levitation transportation (MAGLEV) system. The state refusal to fund the system may make it difficult for Baltimore to get federal approval for construction. Also in 2005 the project had not completed a final environmental impact statement to send to the federal government.[9]

In 2009, the Maryland Department of Transportation released "Maryland's FY 2009-2014 Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP)" document which is divided into different PDF documents.[10] In the "Maryland Transportation Administration" document[11] on page 42, marked "Page MTA-38" in the lower-right hand corner is a listing for the Maglev System Study which lists under description: "Feasibility study and preparation of environmental documentation involved with operating magnetic levitation trains between Baltimore and Washington, with a stop at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport." the justification section is very interesting in that the Maryland Transit Administration has received "special federal funding as part of a national demonstration of Maglev technology" it continued that "if feasibility is demonstrated, Maglev could provide rapid and efficient transportation between Baltimore, Washington, and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport." The current status of the project is that it has completed the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) phase and completed an "environmental reevaluation."The CTP states that from the MAGLEV project's start through 2008, $16,868,000 was expended in planning with $12,973,000 coming from the federal government (which matches the $13 million reported on the FRA site.[3]) For fiscal year 2009, the CTP allocates $100,000 for planning. There is a note at the end stated that the City of Baltimore contributed $100,000 for the Maglev System Study project. With $28 billion spent on project studies in 2015, the real longer-term goal is seen as not merely the short trip between Baltimore and Washington, but also the paramount Northeast Corridor, at least from New York to Philadelphia to Baltimore to Washington.[12]

In November 2013 the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, proposed fully financing a high-speed maglev link between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., to president Obama.[13]

In September 2016, the Maryland Transit Administration started conducting an environmental impact study of the idea.[1]

In late-2016, a website was set up for the "Baltimore-Washington Superconducting Maglev Project".[14] The group reported that the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration, in cooperation with the Maryland Department of Transportation, is preparing an EIS (Environmental Impact Study) "to evaluate the potential impacts of constructing and operating a high-speed superconducting magnetic levitation (SCMAGLEV) system... between Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland".[15]

On November 25, 2016, the federal government released a Notice of Intent regarding the SCMAGLEV EIS. It mentions the previous attempt at a Baltimore-D.C maglev line published a final EIS in 2007, but the FRA never issued a Record of Decision. The Notice of Intent also reveals the full proposed SCMAGLEV line. Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail, the company interested in developing the line, indicated it wanted the SCMAGLEV line to extend from Baltimore to Boston, Massachusetts to the north, and from Washington, D.C., to Charlotte, North Carolina to the south.[16]


  1. ^ a b Di Caro, Martin (September 6, 2016). "Maglev Between D.C. And Baltimore? MTA Embarks On Environmental Study". WAMU. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 2016-09-07. 
  2. ^ "History of the MAGLEV Deployment Program". Archived from the original on 2012-08-13. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  3. ^ a b "Funding for MAGLEV". Archived from the original on 2012-08-13. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  4. ^ "History of the MAGLEV Deployment Program". Archived from the original on 2012-08-13. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  5. ^ Hicks, Josh. "Feds award $28 million to study 'maglev' train system for Maryland". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-09-06. 
  6. ^ "The Baltimore-Washington Maglev Project". Archived from the original on 2013-05-14. Retrieved 2006-07-01. 
  7. ^ Thomson, Candus. "Past Baltimore-Washington organizer considers 2024 Olympic bid". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2014-11-10. 
  8. ^ "Senate Bill 508". Maryland General Assembly. Archived from the original on 2006-06-18. Retrieved 2014-10-04. 
  9. ^ "House Bill 147". Maryland General Assembly. Retrieved 2016-09-06. 
  10. ^ "Maryland's FY 2009-2014 Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP)". Maryland Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2014-10-04. 
  11. ^ "Maryland Transit Administration" (PDF). Maryland Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  12. ^ Pfanner, Eric. "New York-Washington Maglev Train Gets First Federal Funds". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2016-09-06. 
  13. ^ Dresser, Michael; Rector, Kevin (November 2, 2013). "Maglev train idea for Northeast resurfaces". Baltimore Sun. Baltimore, Maryland. Retrieved 2014-10-04. 
  14. ^ User, Super. "B-W SCMaglev Project Home Page". Retrieved 2016-12-08. 
  15. ^ User, Super. "Upcoming Meetings". Retrieved 2016-12-08. 
  16. ^ "Environmental Impact Statement for the Baltimore-Washington Superconducting Maglev (SCMAGLEV) Project, Between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC, Notice of Intent" (PDF). November 25, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2016. 

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