There has long been a suspicion that the $68 billion plan to build a 432-mile high speed rail system between Los Angeles and San Francisco was too little, too late. Essentially, some say, it could be the last hurrah for an outdated technology.
“Bullet trains are obsolete, at the end phase of their development,” Rick Canine, an executive of Federal Maglev Inc., claimed in an interview two years ago. His company said it could build a magnetic levitation rail line with a top speed of 300 mph (to the bullet train’s 220 mph), similar to maglev lines already running in Japan and China. Maglev trains run on concrete beds with embedded magnets that repulse other magnets mounted on skis beneath lightweight aluminum passenger cars.
Maglev drew no response at all from the California High Speed Rail Authority.
Now comes Elon Musk, immigrant from South Africa, co-founder of PayPal (later sold to eBay), chairman of the San Francisco Bay area’s Tesla Motors and boss of SpaceX, the suburban Los Angeles company that has changed the resupply of the International Space Station...