The US federal government has announced a $28m grant for Pennsylvania’s maglev project, which has been under planning for nearly three decades.

The funding will be used for pre-engineering studies for the project, which will consist of an initial 54-mile long magnetic levitation train line linking Pittsburgh International Airport with downtown Pittsburgh and the eastern suburbs at Pennsylvania Turnpike and Greensburg, with later extensions to Philadelphia.

Trains would run at over 250mph allowing passengers to reach Pittsburgh from Philadelphia in under two hours.

According to 2003 estimations, the project’s first phase to build a line linking the airport, Downtown Pittsburgh, Monroeville and Greensburg will cost $3.75bn and a line from the airport to a stop just above Grant Street will cost $1.6bn.

The project had previously received $22m in federal funds.