Ed Rendell Backing 300mph Bullet Train

DC to Philly in 40 minutes?

Transportation fetishist Ed Rendell, no surprise, is backing a plan to bring an ultra-fast Japan-style magnetic levitation bullet train to the northeast corridor.

The travel times are eye-popping: Floating inside a U-shaped guideway on ultra-powerful magnets, the superconducting maglev train would reach 311 miles per hour and shuttle riders from Washington to [BWI airport] in about eight minutes.

And from DC-NYC in one hour; DC-Philly in about 40 minutes. (Current regional Acela trains average 86 miles an hour from DC-New York.) Rendell and former New Jersey governor Christie Todd Whitman are on the project’s advisory board. Here’s a map of the project, which reveals perhaps its most underrated aspect–a stop at PHL.

So, how feasible is this? Well, keep in mind that Amtrak already proposed a high-speed train last summer that would run at an average speed of 220 miles per hour–by 2040 or so. And the funding for that project–at $151 billion–won’t fly in this Congress. While the MagLev project has a lot of private backers, along with support from the Japanese government, it will need federal investment too. It would also propose a direct threat to Amtrak, setting up yet another political obstacle. Backers say it’ll take about ten years to build. But don’t hold your breath.

Well, if and when it, ahem, gets off the ground, let’s call it the Fast Eddie.