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Job Creation, Transportation and Climate Change

Updated on June 12, 2008

Magnetic Levitation Trains--A Solution Whose Time Has Come

Frequently whenever any suggestion is proposed toward the development of technology that is "sustainable" or not based on fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas), it is argued that jobs will be lost as a consequence. This essay seeks to counter this argument, discussing in plain language how the development of magnetic levitation trains would not only help to 1) create jobs or stimulate the economy, 2) be an excellent source of transportation and 3) assist in reducing the amount of carbon emissions that are contributing to climate change.

Before I begin, I also want to make clear that this essay is not going to discuss any of the technical literature associated with the creation of magnetic levitation trains. This is because the technology required to build these trains has been known to us for more than 20 years. What we have lacked in the USA is the public and political will to call for the creation of these trains and the consequent mobilization of private industry to build them.

Job Creation

Iron would need to be mined and steel mills would be put into full production making both the track and girders. Auto manufacturers could shift their production to making the train cars that people would ride in. Land would need to be surveyed as to where the track would be laid and contracts approved with land owners to obtain the building rights. Construction workers would be needed to clear the land, lay the track and in other places put in place the girders; plus bridges would need to be built. This phase of putting in place magnetic levitation trains would take several years--more than a decade--before this phase of the project would be completed. Afterwards there would need to be service personnel (baggage handlers, ticketing agents, porters, etc). Indeed overall a significant amount of job creation would be the consequence of creating a network of magnetic levitation trains.

Source of Transportation

A network of magnetic levitation trains would help to eliminate crowded freeways where commuters are stuck in grid-lock traffic every morning and evening. Magnetic levitation trains would also, due to the high speeds that they are able to achieve, be able to reduce the congestion at airports.

Reducing the Amount of Carbon Emissions

Fewer people would need to drive in order to get to and from work, which would not only be a savings to consumers but this would greatly reduce the amount of carbon emissions. This would also lesson the demand for oil, thus there would be more oil available for its uses other than transportation. Likewise, fewer domestic flights would be needed (which is an expensive form of travel), and this would also thereby contribute toward a reduction of another major source of carbon emissions. Plus airlines are significantly subsidized by federal funding (tax dollars), consequently building a network of magnetic levitation trains would reduce our tax burden. This savings could be applied directly to assisting with the funding necessary to construct this network of magnetic levitation trains.

It is worth asking the question as to whether or not magnetic trains might also need to be subsidized by the federal government after their construction? Federal funding and/or state funding (tax dollars) may need to be used to keep these trains in operation. The ways and means of funding magnetic levitation trans really exceeds the limits of this essay. It should however be pointed out that Amtrak, which is funded by tax dollars, produces far more revenue beyond its costs of operation than do airlines. Thus by studying the economics associated with operating Amtrak would assist us in transitioning to a network of magnetic levitation trains.

What about the actual operation and fuel required to power these trains? Although this question extends more into the realm of a technical question that can be looked up elsewhere, it is worth pointing out here that photo-voltaic energy cells could be used to start these trains. Once in motion, due to the way in which the track is constructed, magnetic levitation trains do not require any additional power to maintain their momentum. Thus magnetic levitation trains would greatly reduce the amount of carbon emissions contributing to global climate change.


This is of course a very brief essay and there are many questions it does not answer. Nevertheless answering every possible question that could be asked about magnetic levitation trains is not the purpose of this essay. It was my intention in writing this essay to discuss in clear language how the development of a network of magnetic levitation trains could create jobs, be an excellent source of transportation and help to reduce carbon emissions. Thus this essay will be successful if it helps to generate more discussion about the positive social, political and environmental implications of creating a network of magnetic levitation trains.


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      Mark A. Schroll 

      7 years ago

      Today in Philadelphia, Vice President Joe Biden announced that a high speed rail initiative would begin. I missed Biden's speech, and caught this bit of news on Chis Matthew's Hardball program tonight on MSNBC. Matthew's should be well familiar with this topic, as he was an aid to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was a strong advocate of magnetic levitation trains during his long service to the United States Senate. Indeed tonight in his "Let Me Finish" segment, Matthew's summarized nearly everything I said here two years ago. I am very glad this dialogue is beginning and I hope that this Hub is read by more people--not because I have all the answers--but as a starting point in this very important conversation.


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