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The east coast’s ambitious maglev train plan is moving forward

Sure, California’s currently working on its own high-speed rail service and could even get a much faster mode of transportation if Elon Musk gets his way, but what about folks on the other side of the country?

Well, thanks to a recent decision by the U.S. Transportation Department, they too could one day be making use of a super-fast transportation line that when completed would whisk passengers between DC and New York City in a mere 60 minutes instead of the usual 4+ hours it currently takes.

Officials have awarded $28 million for research into the feasibility of the ambitious maglev project, the Washington Post reported, with the initial proposal focusing on the section between DC and Baltimore, a journey a maglev train could make in 15 minutes instead of the usual hour.

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The proposed technology is now in the advanced stages of development in Japan, which is also planning to use it for journeys between several of its own major cities.

Test runs in the country back in April saw the maglev train hit a record-breaking speed of 374 mph (603 kmh).

The system uses magnetic forces to create propulsion, enabling the train to move at high speed while suspended just above the “track” (“maglev” is short for “magnetic levitation”).

Visiting Japan last weekend, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx took a ride on a maglev test train, which reached 314 mph (505 kmh) during the 25-minute ride.

Speaking afterwards, Fox told reporters, “It’s obviously a testament to the great research of many people here in this country to see this marvel of transportation.”

Related: Everything you need to know about Japan’s L0 Series maglev, the world’s fastest train

Hardly surprisingly, the East Coast project – if it eventually goes ahead – won’t come cheap, with estimates putting costs for the first section alone at around $10 billion.

To encourage development, the Japanese government has reportedly pledged $5 billion in financial backing while also offering to waive licensing fees for use of its technology. The remaining funds would apparently come from public sources and private investors.