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High speed train may be coming to Maryland

Elkridge, MD - Research has found that 40 percent of all moves are work-related; after all, a long commute isn't for everyone. But commuters can rejoice over the news that the magnetic levitation -- or "maglev" -- high-speed train connecting Baltimore to Washington, D.C. may finally come to fruition in the near future. The mythical train will reportedly bring passengers from the nation's capital to Charm City in just 15 minutes, but the exact route and estimated time of completion remains a mystery.

After vetoing several options, The Federal Railroad Administration has narrowed the possible pathways down to two. Both potential routes run next to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and underneath Anacostia Park to bypass the National Arboretum, according to the Washington Business Journal.

While American rail fans have been waiting for high speed bullet trains for several generations, the trains have been in operation for decades in Japan. The Shinkansen high-speed rail debuted in 1964, wowing the world at the Summer Olympics that year. In 2017, the newest maglev train in Japan broke the world speed record (again) by traveling 374 miles per hour.

"Alignment J" involves the use of an extended underground tunnel until the Capital Beltway, after which it follows the Baltimore-Washington Parkway on the east side above ground and goes through the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, the Patuxent Research Refuge, and Fort Meade before returning to the underground tunnel as it approaches the BWI/Marshall Airport station. "Alignment J1" also uses a similar initial route but instead follows an elevated guided track on the opposite side of the Parkway before traveling through the Beltsville Center and navigating east into a BWI/Marshall Airport station tunnel and continuing on the rest of the route to Baltimore. Either way, around 75 percent of the train's route would be underground.

No matter which route is chosen, the project's cost would be over $10 billion, with $28 million coming from the federal government. Approximately $2 million was provided by Japan's U.S. ambassador for a feasibility study. According to Northeast MAGLEV CEO Wayne Rogers, $5 billion in total funding will come from Japan.

If given the go-ahead for the Baltimore-D.C. maglev train, the project would bring 74,000 construction jobs to the area. Considering that the construction industry eliminated 40 percent of its workforce between 2006 and 2011, this could be a big boon for the area. In addition, the high-speed rail would create around 1,500 jobs related to its operation.

However, whether or not the maglev train will become a reality isn't definite yet. The Federal Railroad Administration is currently conducting a review process that includes an environmental impact statement to be released in 2019. The FRA could rule against building the line entirely.

That's what some opponents are hoping. Aside from the environmental impact, many local residents are worried that homes could be in danger due to the train's path. Others point out that taxpayer money could be better spent on improving existing rail infrastructure.

But Rogers is optimistic. Construction could begin in late 2020 and would be expected to take five to seven years. The good news for travelers, according to Rogers, is that ticket prices would cost only about $1.50 per mile -- only a bit more expensive than Amtrak fare, he says. Eventually, it's the company's hope that the line could expand all the way to New York City, opening up a world of possibilities for passengers who can't afford to spend all day on a train.

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