This is STRICTLY an opinion page. If you are not interested in my
opinion on the Baltimore Maglev Project, please leave now.
As of 2021, Governor Hogan was in Japan several years ago, and was swept off
his feet by the Maglev system they have there. He then suggested
spending 50 million dollars to investigate the possibility of having a
Maglev system put in between Baltimore and Washington DC that would reduce commuting times to
something like 15 or 20 minutes, downtown to downtown.
You have heard me say it here before, that I'm one of the most ardent
transit supporters, and well as being a railfan. I try to use public
transportation whenever I can, and that includes busses as well. If
you read my page on the Red Line, you know I was vocal about being against
it on a variety of reasons, most of which ere not tackled by anyone
associated with the project, or by the supporters of the line.
I have many of the same concerns for the Maglev Project, if, IF, the project
only goes from DC to Baltimore.....
The biggest problem I have is with transit time. Maglev systems are
touted as being time savers for the riders. WELL, that is only if you
are going within a small area around the stations. because if you need to
get to any place further than five or ten minutes away from the stations,
the advantage of using a Maglev system is simply NOT THERE.
Let's use me as an example. I live in northern Baltimore County, the Towson area.
For me to get to the northern endpoint to board the train, and let's say
that is at Camden Yards, it will take me approximately 25 to 30 minutes to
drive there (if you DON'T run into any traffic problems getting there).
Then there is the waiting time, which, unless you are
lucky to time it perfectly, will eat up another 10-15-30 minutes.
Since Baltimore elected a long time ago to forgo highways that go through
the town (instead, they all TERMINATE in Baltimore), getting anyplace
quickly in the downtown area is almost impossible,
unless you are going to Little Italy (and that is only for people coming
from the north using the JFX/I-83), or to the stadiums (and that is only for
people coming up from along the I-95 corridor using I-395), or maybe the
business' located close to either of those locations. If you want to
get anywhere else in Baltimore, well, good luck to you - you are
Another deterrent to getting anywhere faster in Baltimore is those
stupid-ass bike lanes they installed on streets like Maryland Ave, if you
are using Maryland Ave to bring you into the downtown area from the JFX,
they are simply STUPID, and DO NOT help someone in a car!!!
So OK, were at 25 minutes for the drive, plus let's say a mediocre 15 minute
wait time, were now at 40 minutes. Let's say the ride to DC is 20
minutes, were up to an hour.
On the other end, in DC, we still need to get somewhere, and traveling is
not much better there than in Baltimore, but at least they have a few more
subway lines to choose from.
So let's say you need to go 10 minutes away from the southern termination of
the Maglev system by car, but by rail, it takes you another (at least) 25
minutes, because of walking and wait times.... it could easily expand to
MUCH more than that.
So now we are at almost an hour and a half to get somewhere in Washington
DC, that you could drive to in about an hour.
So my question to all of the advocates, what is the advantage???
If we start adding intermediate stopping points along the route, even one,
that is going to slow us down considerably. If you want to serve
intermediate points, at least use a train that is assigned to go from DC to
BWI, as a shuttle, and not make any intermediate stops.
Unrelated, but (maybe) pertinent stuff.....
When I was traveling a lot for business between 1998 and 2002, I took the
light rail home, ONCE, from BWI Airport, it took me over an hour and a half,
after you factored in the wait time at BWI, and the wait time for someone to
pick me up in Lutherville, and then drive me the 10 minutes home - so again,
what is the advantage of rail??? Time if I drove: 30 minutes.
It is probably unfair of me to bring up another boondoggle of a public
transportation project - the I-70 highway to no-where in west Baltimore,
which, 40 years after its completion, is still a highway to no-where.
Maybe someday they will get the kahuna's to knock down the homes that stand
in the way of hooking it up to the current end of I-70, and "get-er-done".
The B&P Tunnel replacement project is another example of where the
government is going to spend billions of dollars, and provide us with a
half-ass solution, since they apparently decided to NOT spend the extra
one-billion dollars to make the tunnel a four-track project. Very
short sighted!!! The easiest solution would have been to daylight the
existing tunnel, and throw the extra money into improving the neighborhoods
that the tunnel goes thru - we already have enough historic homes of those
kinds in Baltimore (sorry, nothing personal to those that live there).
Anyways, back to the Maglev, if they are insistent on building it, bring it
all the way up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and have it go into Camden
Station. On the south end, well, good luck, there hasn't been any open
space to build anything above or below ground for 100 years..... so where
are you going to put it????
In addition to this, there is the issue of cost. When the SNCF started
running the TGV trains in France, they kept ticket prices the same as they
were for regular intercity trains. This was so the "public" could
afford to take advantage of the faster trains. Will the same thing happen here?
Probably not, especially if it is a private concern that is in charge of
it's construction AND operation, they are going to need to recover their
construction costs. So how does that help the average resident of
Baltimore or DC.... simply stated, it doesn't. How many of you have
ever ridden Amtrak's Acela, especially on a regular basis, if your company
isn't paying for the tickets? How many of you ever got to experience
the SST plane between the U.S. and Europe - my guess is probably not a whole
lot there either because of the cost involved - at the end of it's service,
a roundtrip ticket was around $12K (It was about $800 when it first
started, but that's still a lot for 1977).
Here is a thought from a good friend of mine whom I asked for an opinion
on.... he lives on the west coast of Michigan, so he does not enjoy the
traffic problems we have here in the Baltimore-DC area: Your arguments of
train/maglev versus car are basically the same as my arguments against air
travel versus high speed train travel for longer distances. However one
possible valid argument in favor of anything like the maglev is the
potential to reduce traffic congestion, but at what cost? I have never
thought about it too much as I don't live in a major metro area. The
problems are really caused by the great number of people needing to
move and the vast amount of land that would displace large numbers of
people, any solution would entail. The problem really boils down to
over-population and wild economic expansion. I would call the entire
problem basically unsolvable. So it comes down to how much does it
cost and why spend money for a solution that only creates more problems.
The only comment I have to his, is that in order for a transportation system
to reduce overall congestion, it needs to go where the people need to go.
If, by putting in a Maglev system, you create mini-traffic areas around the
Maglev stations, then maybe we haven't done a proper job in evaluating where
it is that we need congestion dilation. Creating more traffic in order
to get to where the Maglev is, is maybe NOT going to offset the congestion
on the major roads in between the stations, it will just be a trade-off.
And to put in a transportation system to get people to the Maglev centers
so they don't have to use their cars will probably be an insurmountable
task - witness the route of the original
Baltimore Light Rail system, where is used available rail lines, to places
no-one really needed to go. It will take several Einstein's to figure
So, in the end, we really need to do a hard assessment, as to whether or not we really need to
spend billions of dollars for a pet project of someone in the government,
just because they THOUGHT it is a cool idea!
The money they have spent on it so far to do even a preliminary study could
have been used to keep all of the places that shuttered over the past year
of Covid from closing, something productive and helps everyone in Baltimore,
instead of the few that "it might help".
Let me bring up two last examples of things which prove "we" here in the
United States go about things the WRONG way.
1 - Bill Maher and his solar energy installation. While it only took a
few months for the contractor to install the solar system onto his property,
it took OVER THREE YEARS for the frickin county government to allow him to
get it hooked up into his home electrical system... and he bashed on them
relentlessly until it was hooked up.
2 - At the beginning of the Covid outbreak in 2020, and China saw they were
being inundated with Covid cases, they built several hospitals IN TEN
DAYS.... in ten days people. We couldn't even begin to survey the land
for a hospital in 10 days...
And then we wonder why it costs SO MUCH and takes SO LONG to build anything
I would LOVE to see a Maglev System in Baltimore, but unless it is
SEAMLESSLY integrated into the transportation system of Baltimore (and DC),
and you don't wind up waiting an hour for the next one to come along if you
miss one, it's a waste of time, effort, resources, and money to put one in.
The picture at the top is of the Japanese System from one of the listed videos.
I love trains, and I love signals. I am not an expert. My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page. This is something I have fun with while
trying to help others.
Please Note: Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.
For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my
indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented
I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.
If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct. Once in a while,
an error may creep in :-)
My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning. Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or
disoriented. Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost! I belong to AAA, which allows you to get
local maps for free when you visit the local branches. ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the
railroads on them. If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job
of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads. Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.
Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted. Screen captures are made
with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it!
By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous
and/or other stuff.
Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit
is always given! Please be NICE!!! Contact info is here
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly inaccurate, wrong, or not true.