A proposal for a new super-fast train connecting New York and Washington, D.C. is moving full speed ahead.
The organization behind the proposed train, Northeast Maglev, opened a new office in Baltimore on Monday and has been meeting with government regulators. With the planned train, passengers from D.C. would reach Baltimore in 15 minutes and New York in just an hour.
Maglev is a train technology in which cars are levitated and propelled by magnetic force. It has been developed over the past few decades in Japan, although the only commercial maglev line currently operating is in Shanghai. The trains promise speeds faster 300 miles per hour—far higher than the 150 mph reached on some sections of the Acela Express, the fastest train in the northeast and the U.S.
The northeast maglev proposal, which has been talked about for years, was revived in 2013 when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised financial support for the proposed Washington-Baltimore line. More recently, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan visited Japan and took a ride on a maglev train, and announced the state would apply for federal grants to study the Maryland line.
Notably, the Japanese government has agreed to pay $5 billion, about half the expected cost of the D.C.-Baltimore segment, hoping to create excitement about the technology around the U.S. The federal government is expected to pay for the remaining half.
There's a long way to go before you can hop on the futuristic train, and there's no projected groundbreaking date yet. The route would go underground most of the way, raising costs. And some transit advocates think the state should focus on more conventional high-speed rail proposals.
Still, Baltimore officials hope the maglev would jumpstart their city's economy by making it feasible for D.C. businesses and government offices to relocate there. The current northeast corridor rail line is plagued by delays.
It's not the first public transit project that backers planned to help improve high unemployment rates there—a proposed light rail line connecting some of the city's poorest neighborhoods was nixed by Hogan this summer.
Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.