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Maglev developer to proceed despite challenges

(The Associated Press circulated the following on September 29, 2009.)

LAS VEGAS — The developer behind a California-to-Nevada rail project says the plans will push forward despite political complications and a rival project.

American Magline Group's proposed $12 billion magnetic levitation rail system would link Las Vegas with Anaheim, Calif. The project faces a challenge from DesertXpress, a $4 billion high-speed train project that would link Las Vegas with Victorville, Calif. Its developers say they'll break ground by March.

"We'll continue on no matter what," American Magline President Neil Cummings said Monday during a forum sponsored by the University of Nevada Las Vegas Transportation Research Center and a local chamber of commerce group.

Cummings said travelers will prefer the 300 mph maglev ride to a 1 hour, 40 minute trip on the DesertXpress.

"I'm pretty sure we'd win a competition. In theory, even if DesertXpress gets built, I'd have no problem building our train alongside it and put them out of business."

American Magline is building the so-called maglev system for the nonprofit California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission. Maglevs are propelled by electromagnetic fields that pull the 50-ton vehicles across a guideway at speeds of up to 310 mph. The quiet vehicles look like monorails, but they hover and never touch the track.

Political controversy swirled around the project after Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons' office announced $45 million in federal funds to finish engineering and environmental
studies on a 40-mile rail line between Las Vegas and Primm. The Federal Railroad Administration denied the money was forthcoming.

American Magline, a coalition of entities, isn't waiting for a check, Cummings said. Instead, he said, the Nevada Department of Transportation is awaiting a contract for the work to be performed.

American Magline has already secured $11 million in matching funds required by legislation that would authorize the $45 million.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

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