Low-Speed Urban Maglev Project Progressing Toward Completion of New Innovative Design

San Diego, CA, February 2001   General Atomics announced today that excellent progress is being made on development of its proposed concept for the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Low Speed Urban Maglev Program.. The overall objective of FTA low speed maglev program is to develop magnetic levitation technology that is a cost effective, reliable, and environmentally sound transit option for urban mass transportation in the United States. Maglev is a revolutionary approach for transportation in which trains are supported by magnetic forces without any wheels contacting the rail surfaces. General Atomics is the prime contractor for the General Atomics Low Speed Maglev Technology Development Project, one of the projects funded by the Federal Transit Administration as part of their Urban Maglev Program. As a result of the initial 9 months of effort, significant progress has been made in many areas including system specifications, levitation and propulsion trade-off studies, and ride quality. Work is currently underway regarding transportation studies, environmental impact, and commercial planning.

Sam Gurol, General Atomics Program Manager, stated, "Our studies show that maglev offers many attractive benefits including the ability to operate in challenging terrain with steep grades and tight turns, all weather operation, low maintenance, rapid acceleration, and more. However, one of the most significant attributes of Maglev is its quiet operation that enables completely elevated guideway, eliminating the need to tunnel underground for noise abatement. For many urban alignments, this can result in very significant cost savings over conventional transportation systems."

The Urban Magnetic Levitation Transit Technology Development Program is funded by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). The Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration administers Federal funding for this project. In addition, since this is a cost share program, the development team provides 20% non-federal matching funds.

Projects funded under the Urban Maglev Program are undertaken in three discrete phases, which consist of: (1) Evaluation of Proposed System Concept, (2) Prototype Subsystems Development, and (3) System Integration and Deployment Planning. The General Atomics Project is currently, 9 months into a planned 18 month Phase 1. Excellent progress is being made in this phase to develop projections of overall system performance and a preliminary design for the proposed full-scale demonstration system concept. The second phase scheduled to begin near year-end, spans 24 months and provides demonstration of key Maglev components. The third phase spans an additional 18 months and provides functional specifications, identifies a specific deployment site, and provides an environmental assessment.

Led by General Atomics located in San Diego, California, the Urban Maglev consortium consists of companies principally based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania including:

Port Authority of Allegheny County
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (Transportation studies & Planning)
Carnegie Mellon University (Control & Magnetic Shielding)
Hall Industries (Vehicles)
Mackin Engineering Co. (Guideway Design & Environmental Assessment)
PJ Dick (Guideway Construction)
Sargent Electric Co. (Power Distribution)
Union Switch & Signal (Communication & Controls)
Western Pennsylvania Maglev Development Corp. (Commercialization)

Additional participants include:

Booz-Allen Hamilton (Transportation Studies)
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Magnetics)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Propulsion)

For further information contact:

Dr. Sam Gurol
3550 General Atomics Court
San Diego, CA 92121-1122
(858) 455-4113


Doug Fouquet, General Atomics Public Relations
(858) 455-2173

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Last modified: May 27, 2001