The privately owned Washington company that last year began lobbying to build a high-speed rail line between Washington and New York has lined up some prominent names to press its ambitious plan to improve congestion in the Northeast corridor.
The Northeast Maglev, the 25-employee company founded in 2010, is looking to develop a high-speed magnetic levitation system that would bring passengers from Washington to Baltimore in 15 minutes and to New York in 60 minutes, at speeds of 311 miles an hour.
The company, which according to its chairman has raised $50 million in private funding, plans to announce today it has enlisted several of the region’s business and political leaders to join its advisory board: Under Armour founder and chief executive Kevin Plank; former chief executive of Northwest Airlines Doug Steenland; former transportation secretaries Mary Peters and Rodney Slater (now a lobbyist at Patton Boggs); and George Pataki, Christine Todd Whitman and Ed Rendell, former governors of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, respectively.
The board is being led by former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, who is now an adviser at DLA Piper, the international law firm that the Northeast Maglev has hired to lobby on its behalf before Congress.
The rail line would include stops at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport in Baltimore, Philadelphia International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport. The project is unrelated to Amtrak’s $151 billion plan to develop a high-speed rail system — that would go from Washington to New York in 94 minutes — in the Northeast corridor by 2040.
The Northeast Maglev chairman Wayne Rogers said his firm does not have a cost estimate for the entire project but that the Washington-Baltimore leg would cost at least $10 billion. He said he expects it to take at least three years to navigate the regulatory, environmental and planning process and another 10 years for construction. The company is working closely with engineers from Central Japan Railway, which operates the bullet train in Japan.
In Washington, they are considering station locations on K Street, near Metro Center, near the convention center and around Union Station, Rogers said.
“Lots of items that go into that selection [process],” he said. “Connectivity to Metro is one consideration, constructability is another consideration, connecting with the population and business centers — where office centers will be — it’s a complicated equation,” he said. “All those are being studied and put together. We’re looking to be able to connect near Metro. . . . Our goal is to connect city centers and airports.”
Roger said his company has met with representatives from the Maryland Transit Administration and D.C. government.
It is not the first time there’s been interest in building a maglev system in the Northeast, but previous attempts were halted by lack of support from lawmakers and funding shortfalls. In 2001, transit officials from Maryland, the District and Baltimore formed the Baltimore-Washington Maglev Project, which competed for Federal Railroad Administration consideration to develop a 39-mile maglev line linking Camden Yards in Baltimore, BWI and Union Station in Washington. But the project, which in 2007 was estimated to cost $5.1 billion, lacked legislative support.