(Photo via Twitter)
Gov. Larry Hogan is on a trade mission to Asia this week. While he was over there, the Maryland governor got a chance to see what all the high-speed train hype was about.
After a meeting with Japan’s prime minister, Hogan and his wife traveled outside Tokyo to test-ride a maglev train. The trains levitate inches above the rail, and are capable of speeds topping 300 mph.
— Larry Hogan (@LarryHogan) June 4, 2015
Someone on the trip undoubtedly noted to Hogan that if it were in the U.S., the train could make the trip from Baltimore to D.C. in 15 minutes, as the governor wasn’t on an idle sightseeing exhibition.
A couple of months before he was elected governor, the Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) put $5 billion on the table for any future Maryland maglev project, which is about half of what a Baltimore-Washington line would require. The Japanese government also agreed to waive licensing fees for the technology. Around the same time, an advocacy group known as Northeast Maglev also emerged to push for the train, touting an advisory board with members like Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and newly-minted presidential candidate George Pataki.
Hogan seemed to open at least one potential route for Maryland after his ride on Thursday. The governor’s office announced that Maryland applied for $27.8 million in Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) funds to begin planning and engineering analysis for maglev in Maryland. Hogan said the state is submitting the application on behalf of an Annapolis-based investor group, Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail LLC.
“Exploring this new Maglev technology between Baltimore and Washington represents a huge transportation and economic development opportunity for Maryland,” Hogan said in a statement.
Hogan’s marveling at maglev comes as he considers whether to back commuter rail projects that are currently proposed for Baltimore and D.C.
The Red Line, which would run east-west through Baltimore City, and the D.C. Purple Line each have federal funding lined up, but Hogan has yet to take a formal position.
It also comes as U.S. officials are looking at train safety in the wake of the deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia.
After his ride, Hogan told the Wall Street Journal that maglev’s added safety meant “that kind of accident couldn’t happen.”-30-
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