The federal government is giving Gov. Larry Hogan's administration nearly $30 million in seed money to study a high-speed maglev rail corridor between Baltimore and Washington, state officials said Saturday.
The federal grant can be used for engineering and planning costs.
"The ability to travel between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., in only 15 minutes will be absolutely transformative, not just for these two cities, but for our entire state," Hogan said in a statement. "This grant will go a long way in helping us determine our next steps in this transportation and economic development opportunity."
The magnetic technology, which allows trains to glide at ultra-fast speeds on a cushion of air, generated considerable interest in Maryland during the 1990s. But the discussion faded after 2000 because of concerns about costs and disruption to neighborhoods, among other issues.
Hogan, a Republican, gave the idea an unexpected boost in June after returning from a trip to Japan, where the trains have been in operation for decades.
Maglev trains routinely travel faster than 300 mph and are being tested at nearly 400 mph. Hogan, during a 12-day visit to Asia, took a 27-mile journey outside Tokyo on a train that cruised along at up to 314 mph.
The technology is not currently in use in the United States, though several other states are also considering it.
Hogan, who was elected last year on a promise to rein in state spending, has been eager to stress private investment in the project — should it ever be approved. Supporters have said the cost of building the line would be split among the Japanese government, a private company and federal taxpayers.
Officials have pegged construction costs for the Washington-to-Baltimore segment at between $10 billion and $12 billion.
The Federal Railroad Administration's $27.8 million grant was first noted by the federal government Friday, and state officials announced it more widely Saturday. The federal agency said the money comes from authorization Congress set aside for such projects a decade ago.