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Baltimore Supertrain May Be Getting Closer To Reality

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Japan is making a big push for Baltimore. The prime minister wants to lend the federal government billions for a new high-speed rail system.

Mike Hellgren looks into the challenges of getting this project on track.

Say goodbye to the slower trains of today and hello to the speedy Maglev Super Train of the future: Japan’s 311-mile-an-hour wonder that could take you from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore in just 15 minutes and to New York City in just 45 minutes more.

Japan’s prime minister already promised to help the United States build it, and now WJZ has learned Japan would lend us $4 billion.

While the train faces an uphill battle getting approval from Congress, it intrigues regular commuters like Peter Drackley, who lives in Baltimore but sings at D.C.’s National Shrine.

“It’s annoying to have to worry about delays, things like that. We usually drive there and even that, with traffic…sometimes you can get there in 45 minutes, sometimes you can get there in an hour and a half,” he said.

“I have a client service portfolio, so my clients are all up and down the East Coast. For guys like us, it would be great to have that kind of flexibility,” said John McCardell, who conducts business from D.C. to New York.

The big hurdle is going to be the price: at least $4 billion to tunnel and put the tracks underground and the ticket would have to be affordable for the average consumer.

WJZ spoke to big civic backer the Abell Foundation in November. Its president believes in the end, it’s worth the cost.

“There are few, if any, capital projects that would have the impact on Baltimore that this would have,” said Robert Embry.

It could boost the chances for a Baltimore/D.C. Olympics and have a transformative impact on the entire East Coast.

“It would probably help a lot of people who want to live here but maybe have job opportunities in other cities,” said Julia Hall.

But it’s likely decades away from reality, if it happens at all.

The current Maglev trains can hold up to 1,000 passengers.

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