How would you like to travel from Austin to Houston in 33 minutes? Would you believe that this is possible to do without leaving the ground, all while reducing your carbon footprint? All of this is possible with Magnetic Levitation Trains. Magnetic Levitation Trains, also known as Maglev Trains, are a rising technology showing much promise. The current Shanghai Transrapid train in China averages a travel speed of 267 mph [http://science.howstuffworks.com/transport/engines-equipment/maglev-train3.htm]. Even at that speed, cross continental trips can be convenient; a trip from Los Angeles to New York City would take just over 9 hours (compared to just under 5 and half hours for a flight) [http://www.distance-cities.com/search?from=New+York%2C+NY&to=Los+Angeles%2C+CA][ http://www.travelmath.com/flying-time/from/Los+Angeles,+CA/to/New+York,+NY]. I have spent more time traveling on a greyhound from Austin to Brownsville for crying out loud.
The benefits of Maglev technology should not be overlooked in this environmentally conscious society we live in today. Looking at the Figure below, it is easy to see the benefits that Maglev trains could have on the environment. It is clear to see that on a per-passenger basis, Maglev trains are the most “green” mode of transportation. A Transrapid train can seat between 321-449 passengers, while a bowing 747 can fit between 400-500 passengers. [http://www.newaustralia.net/MaglevAlternativeDIT.pdf] Based on the data above with maximum capacity, traveling from LA to NY would produce approximately 374,300 kg-CO2 and 58,379 kg-CO2 by 747-Short Haul flight and Transrapid Train, respectively. The Transrapid system would produce only ~16% of the emissions that the equivalent flight would produce.
Another benefit is that the prices of tickets for Maglev trains would be more stable than for air travel since the fuel for Maglev trains is electricity; air plane tickets fluctuate with the price of oil. Also, as energy production in the US becomes greener, so would Maglev trains.
It would be great to see the United States government push the issue on Maglev trains as we push for greener technology.