We've had many articles on maglev lately, some saying that maglev is too expensive to be built, and others saying that it's doable (“Potential Baltimore maglev station locations narrowed; Port Covington out of the running,” Nov. 15).
Here's a historical view of travel that we should consider.
During the past two centuries, travel has gotten quicker and more comfortable, by a lot. But for the past half century, we've hit a wall. That wall is the speed of sound. It's not that we can't go faster than the speed of sound. It's just too expensive to do it for normal travel. That's why we no longer have a supersonic transport.
If we, as a worldwide civilization, decide to make supersonic travel available for mass transit, we have to do it in a vacuum. We can do it with suborbital rocket flight which would expose passengers to radiation from cosmic rays above the atmosphere and would also put lots of pollution into the atmosphere. Or, we can do it with maglev trains going through tunnels that have the air sucked out of them like the vacuum tubes that you see at the drive-up lanes at the bank. These could be run by renewable electricity. There wouldn't be a sonic boom because there wouldn't be air in the tunnel other than the air inside the train.
Henry Farkas, Pikesville
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