Maglev Train Coming to the Sunshine State?

May 28, 2015 18 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Central Florida may soon be on its way to becoming the transit capitol of Florida. Already home to Bus Rapid Transit (LYMMO) and commuter rail (Sunrail), plans for high speed intercity rail (All Aboard Florida) could be bolstered by a privately funded Maglev rail system.

EMMI LLC, a subsidiary of Marietta, GA-based American Maglev Technology, Inc. (AMT) wants to begin construction on a magnetic-levitation train system in July 2015. EMMI's $400 million, privately funded 13.7-mile, six-station system would connect Orlando International Airport and the International Drive corridor.

Knightly News reporter Charles Babir describes the proposed levitating train that could carry tourists and convention goers from the Orlando International Airport to International Drive.

Plans for the incremental implementation of the system were recently highlighted in the Orlando Business Journal:

The plan would be to first build a circulator on I-Drive — connecting the convention center to several area hotels and Pointe Orlando on a slower-speed system — then build toward The Florida Mall and eventually to the airport.

The goal is to begin circulator operations in September 2016, after six months of testing. The full system to the airport would then debut about nine months later, though the entire system may all open at the same time, depending on various factors.

Train tickets on Maglev could cost about $16 one way from the airport to the convention center, and $6 one way for the circulator.

Full train capacity is 200 passengers, 80 in front and 120 in the back. About 3.1 million passengers are expected in the first year.

The train will be able to travel an estimated 500-1,000 trips per hour.

The system would tie into a 500-kilowatt transformer at the airport’s intermodal station, and in the event of a power outage, would operate on solar power with two hours of battery-powered operations.

The columns that support the elevated rail system would be 30- to 40-feet high and about 60- to 100-feet apart.

This won't be the first time AMT has attempted to build a system in Florida. Volusia County's underwhelming experience with AMT was highlighted in a 2014 article by Hampton Roads, VA-based NewsChannel 3:

“It did not live up to what we hoped it would be,” Patricia Northey told NewsChannel 3. Northey was a councilmember in Volusia County, Florida, when Tony Morris proposed a maglev line and research project in Edgewater. The county gave the company $600,000.

“There was a big celebration here at this location,” she said. “People came out and cheered because the train moved a little bit down the tracks, and it just never went beyond that.”

Northey says the promise of jobs and factories 20 years ago never materialized.

“It just kind of faded away,” she said.

Northey took NewsChannel 3 to the site of the first maglev train in the nation. It’s now an overgrown graveyard of disjointed concrete tracks and Fiberglas panels. Northey said when the money ran out in Florida, the company set its sights on a project at Old Dominion University. There, company officials predicted students would zip around campus on a maglev line by 2002, and there would be a line from Hampton Roads to Washington by 2007.

More than $16 million went into the ODU maglev system — including a $7 million loan from Virginia — and the train never worked. Some of the steel track was sold as scrap.

However, the sour grapes experienced by Volusia County and Norfolk, VA, at the hands of AMT, have not stopped excitement in Orlando. In response to the news that the maglev project could break ground this summer, Whistle-Stop's post at sums things up with the picture below:

If EMMI can pull it off, their system would be the fourth of its kind in the entire world. EMMI expects to begin with limited operations in 2016 and full operations in 2017.

Next Page: Images of EMMI's proposed Maglev system

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