Chattanooga to Nashville Maglev Feasibility Study

Study Overview 

This TDOT report is an initial feasibility study of high speed rail options between Nashville and Chattanooga including mag-lev technology once planned between Atlanta and Chattanooga.

For the purposes of this study, the technology chosen for evaluation was the super-speed magnetic levitation (maglev) train. Magnetic levitation is an advanced transport technology in which magnetic forces lift, propel, and guide a vehicle over a special-purpose track, called a guideway; with cruising speeds on the order of 250 to 300 miles per hour. The Chattanooga to Nashville Maglev Feasibility Study is a continuation of efforts begun by TDOT with the development of the High Speed Rail Corridor Designation Application (Atlanta-Chattanooga-Nashville), submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration in 2003. 

Major Findings

The evaluation of existing conditions for the Chattanooga to Nashville corridor included a review of three potential maglev corridor alternatives: the I-24 alignment, CSX railroad alignment, and the US-41 highway alignment. The review considers overall corridor length, travel time, potential environmental impacts, availability of existing right-of-way, potential ridership and population density, and estimated construction costs. Through this preliminary evaluation, the I-24 alignment at 149 miles in length was selected as the best potential maglev corridor from Chattanooga to Nashville.

Five passenger station locations are proposed for the Chattanooga to Nashville corridor with preliminary locations as follows: Downtown Nashville (combined with Music City Star Commuter Rail Station), Nashville International Airport, Murfreesboro (Located at I-24), Downtown Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport. 

The report made the following conclusions:

- With continued increases in traffic congestion in the Chattanooga to Nashville corridor, there is a growing need for alternative transportation modes.
-There is increasing public support for shorter travel times and alternative transportation modes including, HSGT for the corridor.
-There is growing and sustaining political awareness and support for HSGT in the corridor.
-Maglev transportation is the HSGT mode of choice in providing the highest speeds and shortest travel times for the corridor. 
-Maglev trains are a viable transportation mode in the Chattanooga to Nashville corridor providing positive benefits to both users and non-users alike and capturing a fair share of riders along the I-24 corridor.
-Combining maglev transportation with the I-24 corridor provides the best potential for diverting passenger trips and freight volumes from highway transportation.
-The economic feasibility of the Chattanooga to Nashville maglev project is dependent on further connection to Atlanta, to the south.
-Increased connectivity with other large metropolitan areas increases the economic feasibility of the Chattanooga to Nashville Maglev project. 


The report states that the planning, engineering and construction of any maglev system in the United States will require significant federal support. A shift in focus and priority toward maglev transportation will require strong political leadership and vision; and an overall increase in the amount of funding to transportation needs in the U.S. combined with alternative methods of financing such projects.





  • Chattanooga to Nashville Maglev Feasibility Study

Completion Date

  • 2008


  • The Enterprise Center

Study Partners

  • TDOT
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