Photo: MetroPlan Orlando
Last week, MetroPlan Orlando, a metropolitan planning organisation in Florida, announced it has approved the first phase of a plan to build a magnetic-levitation (maglev) train.That phase involves 14.9 miles of track, and is expected to cost $315 million.
It will have four stops, connecting Orlando International Airport with the Orange County Convention centre.
Maglev trains are suspended above their tracks and propelled forward by magnets. The lack of friction makes extremely high speeds possible: A planned maglev train in Japan will travel as quickly as 311 mph.
The train is to be built by American Maglev Technology (AMT), a technology developer. Its Chief Executive Tony Morris says the project, which will cost $315 million, will not require any public funding, according to Transportation Nation.
Morris also says AMT’s system costs just $20 million per mile, much less than proposed costs for other maglev systems.
Once built, the system will be privately operated, and AMT will ostensibly recoup the costs of construction.
The entire three-phase project is estimated to cost $800 million. Only the first phase is currently being considered, according to MetroPlan Orlando.
Before the train moves ahead, the Florida Department of Transportation will conduct a technology assessment to make sure safety standards will be met, and right-of-way issues will be addressed.
But the project has its detractors.
In June, Beth Kassab of the Orlando Sentinel article argued the hidden costs of the train include the donation of valuable right-of-way to AMT. She also pointed out Morris has received $20 million federal funding for maglev projects in Florida’s Volusia County and at Old Dominion University in Virginia, neither of which came to fruition.
Kassab also referenced the episode of “The Simpsons” in which a conman takes the town’s money to build a monorail, which immediately falls apart.
Tony Morris defended AMT against Kassab’s critiques, which we covered in a separate post.
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