Maglev Industry Gains Momentum, But Is Big Cost A Turn-Off?

In meeting room G of San Diego’s Manchester Grand Hyatt, Neil Cummings was preaching yesterday to the choir—which in this case is the 20th International Conference on Magnetically Levitated Systems and Linear Drives.

“I call it the new Iron Horse,” said Cummings, referring to the maglev industry’s vision for high-speed trains driven by magnetic levitation technology. He invoked the name of Abraham Lincoln, “who was a railroad lawyer before the Civil War,” and reminded his audience that it took 50 years to get the transcontinental railroad built.

Ah, if only it was that easy.

As the president of the American Magline Group, Cummings heads a private consortium that wants to build a high-speed maglev train from Anaheim, CA (i.e. Disneyland) to Las Vegas, NV (i.e. casinos). The project proposed by the California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission would adopt maglev technology used in China by Shanghai Transrapid, which moves passengers 19 miles between the Pudong International Airport and downtown Shanghai at speeds of roughly 220 mph.

Cummings argues that Maglev is a technology whose time has come, but he also concedes, “You can’t … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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