By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Energy
China is developing a high-speed train that will travel at 620 miles per hour through maglev lines in airless tubes underground.
China is reportedly developing a high-speed train that will travel at up to 1,000 kilometers per hour, or approx. 621 miles per hour, through Maglev lines in airless tubes underground.
Researchers at the National Power Traction Laboratory of Southwest Jiaotong University reportedly told Beijing-based Legal Evening News that they were working on a prototype "vactrain" with an average speed of 500 to 600 kilometers per hour (approx. 311 to 373 miles per hour.)
The researchers say the technology could be in use within a decade. In the meantime, a smaller model train may be introduced in two or three years, they said.
The technology at the heart of the train is Maglev, short for magnetic levitation, technology. A concept that's been around for more than 100 years, Maglev tech entails the suspension of a train via powerful magnets to remove the friction present at the rails of conventional trains.
The catch with maglev technology is that there's still friction from the air rushing past the train as it hurtles down the tracks. To date, the fastest Maglev train managed about 361 miles per hour -- not much faster than a conventional high-speed train.
But an airless tube -- a vacuum -- would remove that air drag, allowing for impressive speeds. (The trains themselves will contain pressurized air, just like an airplane.) A cheaper alternative to removing the air completely is to depressurize it, the researchers say.
Inventor and ET3 CEO Daryl Oster holds the U.S. patent for Evacuated Tube Transport, or ETT, technology. As you might expect, Oster has reportedly been working with Chinese researchers Shen Zhiyun, Zhang Yaoping and Wang Jiasu at the university on the concept.
The researchers say the train is cost-competitive with a traditional high-speed train because it has a smaller tunnel and requires less boring.
Here's a rather rosy video about an existing maglev system in China, via the eagle-eyed folks at AltTransport:
The best use of such train technology? Transoceanic travel. One proposal by Channel Tunnel pioneer Frank Davidson and engineer Yoshihiro Kyonati entailed floating a tube above the ocean floor, anchored with cables.
Call it the Concorde 2.0: live in New York, work in London. Or travel from New York to Los Angeles in 45 minutes, according to Oster's calculations.
A 2007 Worcester Polytechnic Institute report (.pdf) elaborates:
The Vactrain outweighs the current modes of transport in several ways, making it a ground-breaking idea. It has a clear edge over present airplanes, trains and automobiles as it causes no pollution and does not operate with gas or petroleum. Thus, while the present transportation would soon be in a sticky situation with the energy crises which the world is facing with dwindling resources of petroleum and gas, the Vactrain would emerge victorious. Moreover, the Vactrain is unaffected by any extremes in weather conditions. It has low maintenance costs as it employs the high-lifetime maglev technology, which also minimized wear due to friction. Additionally, it has low operation costs and 25% energy consumption when compared to aircrafts. Due to all these factors, the Vactrain triumphs over the current means not just in the future but even in present situations making it highly superior.
The Chinese aren't the only ones working on a vactrain, by the way: according to the report, both the U.S. and Switzerland are developing similar technology.
Aug 9, 2010
When the world stop spending trillions of $ a year on useless weapons, those billions of $ spent on a superfast maglev will be obvously a good investment for conserving planetary resource.
The designers of transport system have to now settle down to a practical level and have to be present to the ground reality. They got to give the people what the people want. People do not want fancy transport systems. The people want an efficient, convenient and cost effective system. With mobility becoming a fundamental right the new technology needs to fit into the budget of the common man. The transport system is no longer important, what is important is affordable mobility which is fast, clean, cheap, comfortable, safe & green. What people are looking for is doorstep delivery. People are looking for a uni-modal system which saves time & effort. High Speed Trains have very few stations and these stations are far away from the places where the people live & work. It is time for a technology which will replace cars and save energy and will give the people the mobility they desire.
It is entertaining reading what nay-sayers imagine ET3 to be! It is easy to "prove" there are problems that ET3 cannot surmount if one redesigns ET3 to be what they imagine instead of what it is! The article has one reference, et3.com, and mentions the the technology is patented. One can find the patent and download it for free at: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5950543.html A little more study (actually reading the ET3 patent) should let the nay-sayers know that ET3 is not the expensive train they imagine it to be! For instance ET3 does not use train switching imagined by DamienY. ET3 uses car/freeway type of independent switching controlled by the vehicle -- not the outmoded train type of switch. Those who dig deeper will find et3.net and that the ET3 consortium is over 95 strong, and includes SWJTU in China, and is several years into the development phase!
New York to Los Angeles in "x" minutes? What if I want to go to Boise, Idaho instead? How about Seattle? Does anyone have the faintest idea how to build a network of such tube trains and not spend the treasuries of every nation on Earth? Real-world trains on rails use a gadget called a "switch" to change from one rail line to another to go to different destinations. It's relatively easy to do in the air when one doesn't have to also deal with maintaining a vacuum.
Hmmm...that's a funny video! I love how there are absolutely *NO* lines anywhere! Look..the problem with super fast trains is that they are only good for point-to-point operation! We have an Accella train in the united states that's capable of about 200mph on regular train tracks..but it can never reach that speed because on the way to New York from Washington DC, it has to stop half a dozen times and because of that, it never goes above 90-mph!
@dhays i only really care about mistake that change thwe context of the arguement. as for claustrophia... thats purely a psychological condition... general cause via truama and the avoidance of the cause of of similar things to thats which caused the trauma... the fact of the matter is the tube is required for increasingly high speed trains (because it removed air resistance, thusly greatly reducing the required energy input), this method has been talked about being used over long distance at several thousand km/h. if people can't get over that they can use another method of travel. as for the view, the tube can be made of some kind of glass or clear plastic, and there you go very high speed trains IN A TUBE with a view, not exxactly much of a problem... though at that speed there not much point to a view unless your atleast few hundred or thousand feet of the ground (or 32,000ft; cruise altitude for most commecial airliners), at that speed at ground level a view would likely be disorienting to many people.
The problem I see with getting from New York to Los Angeles in 45 minutes is that the maximum safe acceleration for a bus or train is 0.1g, At that rate of acceleration, the minimum time in which a bus or train can cover 2462 miles is a shade under 68 minutes. To achieve that timing the vehicle needs to achieve a maximum speed of 4400 mph. Even over medium distances, though, the train is already faster than the plane. You can travel 400 miles centre to centre from Edinburgh to London in 4 hours 0 min by train. Doing the same journey by plane takes about the same length of time, thanks to the time spent at the airport of departure.
Daryl420: There are a lot more typos than that in your posting, misspelled words, misused words all make it hard to read. It would take a lot of time to point them all out. It should have been proofread before you posted it. We should quit worring about the politics and get moving on building a high speed train, above or below ground. I don't like the idea of being in a tube underground for long distances--anyone ever heard of claustrophobia? I enjoy the scenery from an airplane's window, or a train's window. If we were to go this route, we would be hurtling at high speed in something with no windows to guess where we are or see the mountains, rivers, lakes of our magnificent country. In my case at aq height of 6' 7" to many transports are made for shorter people. There are may of us out here that are over six and a half feet tall, where do they travel or what do they drive? I drive a full sized pickup and one of the reasons is LEG room, which is nonexistant on many airlines, and in many cars, we bought our Ford Five-Hundred three years ago, specifically for its leg room, I am hoping someone will still have a vehicle with rear seat leg room, when we have to replace it. I am not sure it exists today in the 2011 season of vehicles.
" look it doesn't matter when they built their existing mag lev train or not." when should be whether.
its no wonder were at least 100 years behind whats possible most people are ludcirisly sociallly and technology conservative... news flash this is the 21st century, not the 19th century... people, start acting like you know what century it is. issues: 1) terrorism... the perfect fantasy reason to do nothing... look if terrorism was really a concern democracy, capitialism/socialism/communism would all, all mass transportation and energy generation (esspecially of nuclear oil or coal) would cease to exist... instead its used as an assine reason to stall social and technology progress and to entrech with mindless rederick which embraces technologies that caused most of the environmental and social problems of today's world in the first place. 2) disaster scenerio, its all fine an well to plan for the what if's but when you say how something can't be done or shouldn't be done, you better have damn sound reasoning as at that point YOUR blocking progress for the whole of society and indirectly the whole of the global society... infact unless you have some kind of work around idea, in that case, your strictly part of the problem... underwater/underground transportation isn't a new thing, building earthquake resistant structures can be built (its usually not done as a result of cost, which is the same reason the US infrastructure is in decay, in many case in extreme decay), china though is less concerned about cost (their economy isn't in shambles, nor even on shakey ground) and more in modernizing their country and becomming leading nation on international stage, which they are quickly becomming. 3) their calculation being off... this is a MINOR details thats being treated as if its a major flaw, its not... its still MUCH faster than ANY other mode of travel and thats the relevent point. 4) it not being green power, it is, the problem is that the bulk of their electricity generation, much like that of the US, is stuck in 19th and early 20th century technology, hence much of the power than gets to the train wasn't generated by a green source but the train is still green itself, unlike other trains, airplanes, cars/trucks, hell its more green than travel by horse, because at the end of the day (figuritively speaking, of course) it itself isn't putting out any pollution, and tghusly is green and an be powered 100% by green sources. 5) it not being possible, or otherwise being a fantasy... look... FLYING is a fantasy... but the wright brother didn't agree.. now nearly a century later we have tens of (if not hundreds of) MILLIONS of people engaging in whaty was a fantasy at the time.. and BTW this was also around the time maglev technology was conceived... and i'm sure they thought it was pure fantasy then too, and guess what?, in 1992 the german government proved what short sighted fools they were even 18 years ago, much less of the people that think so now. 6) why only 600mph?... because its a work in progress under the venus project they like to see international transport (via EXACTLY this method vacuum tube mag lev trains; check out "future by design" for the venus projects' vision) of they they say up to or exceeding 20,000km/h, which every decade becomes closer and closer to realityand while 20,000km/h might not ever be acheived (i think over a long enough distance it certianly can be even for passenger carrying trains), its really a matter of energy input (which is ever-increasing), magnetic power efficently (which is constantly improving via being able to apply more power to electromagnets or the manfacturing other super-magnets which are naturally stronger), resistance (which unless they can create a perfect vacuum, which they likely wont, will form some kind of barrier of air resistences, as this ability continues to improve so too will the efficency of such mag lev trains) and lastly biological physical tolerances (people can only physically tolerate so much g-force, to work around this you would either need a long relatively slow acceleration or something to dampen the effects of g-force.. a long slow acceleration is the easiest and most economical... if the distance were great enough i have no doubt this specific mag lev train concept could easily hit 1000km/h, if not exceeding even that. 7) impractical/ signifigant amounts of energy... obviously this person missed the memo, its uses 1/4 (or 25%) of the energy that flying does, WHY? because their no friction and little air resistance.... hence it require LESS energy. hence the energy burden is LESSENED not increased... and no coal (and oil) is the long term solution to nothing, except making a quick buck at the expense of the environment and the global society, nuclear i have less of a problem with, aside from the fact that even nuclear power is 60 years behind whats actually possible, can be significantly more powerful and at the same time a MUCH greener technology.. buts it not economical... so we don't have it, thats how backwards society... we can do better, we know better than to keep doing things the way we do and yet we choose not to because the profit motive isn't there... thats a flaw of western society if ever there was one, our society is like that one completely moronic person in society (school or adult life) thats just smart enough to know that getting hit in the head is bad for his health, yet is dumb enough to keep letting people much him in the head for a quarter. we haven't NEEDED oil or coal power in the last 60 years AT ALL, but we haven't taken green tech seriously until the mid 90's and even now its still barely taken seriously, by anyone except though that are rather cognicent of global warming which many people still think is some kind of scam, and doesn't exist, or even if it does that we have no influence on it; which is assine, when you consider we have a greater CONSTANT effect than volcanoes do, on average more than 200 times greater, yet we know beyond all doubt that volcanos alter the climate (albeit generally in a more balanced way via also having alot of sulphur dioxide emissions).... and nuclear power become a scary thing for the west in the cold war, mostly via propaganda up till 1970 nuclear power was making great strides, including nuclear power super-freighters, i think only 3 were built, despite them being superior in virtually every way, but were scaped as a economic plan because most countries ports refused to let them dock out of fear of a nuclear attack. 8) the anit-chinese progressionists, look it doesn't matter when they built their existing mag lev train or not... they comissioned it, they own it... they use it.... thats all that really matters... also it doesn''t matter that maglev can do this same speed above ground... WHY? because when you remove, or dramatically reduce air resistance from the equation you can reduce the power input thats required to run the train, hence making it significantly more energy efficent.. not to mention it opens up the possibilty of the same technology being expanded well beyond 1000km/h using this practical proof of concept, much like the first maglev train built in 1992 by germany was.
As one of these highly traditional Brits, I rather like trains. No doubt this thing will need some development and there are obvious questions about what happens when the tunnel springs a leak etc, but 600 mph sounds doable in (say) 5 or 10% of atmospheric pressure with minimal fuel costs (potentially renewable). If it does heavy freight at that speed or it's technically feasible to go supersonic, the airlines may be history ...
Don@ has a valid point that the power generation technologies we use today don't make either conventional transport infrastructure, or MAGLEV trains a clean technology, we have simply removed the source of the pollution from the actual transport infrastructure itself and transferred it to central power generation plants, which today are mainly dirty. However, that does not negate the development of "clean" transport infrastructure powered by electricity, MAGLEV or otherwise. Migrating our Transport infrastructures to electrically, centrally powered systems means that as we do develop clean power generation technologies, we only have to replace the central power generation plants with clean technologies, not the entire transportation infrastructure.
Many said trains could never exceed 22 MPH, even if in this discussion we are talking about conventional trains regularly going in excess of 300 MPH. Many said human flight was impossible, but we take it for granted today. Many said supersonic flight was impossible but after some 35 years of Mach 2 service, Concorde was retired. Many said we could never land on the moon, but we have. For everything we do today, many said beforehand it could not be done. If we listened to such people we would still be living in caves.
What with this great love affair with everything Chinese, sorry the Maglev running from Shanghai to its airport is not Chinese at all, it is German designed, built and made. If the author would have done even the smallest amount of research he would have found that above ground Maglev can probably reach speeds in excess of 600 MPH but the restriction is the sonic boom. Another problem with Maglev is that they need fairly level tracks, though some work in the roller coaster field has shown that Maglev can be made to climb sharp inclines. But for the example NYC to LA, tunnels when you are pushing something through them near the speed of sound would build a humongous pressure wave which would probably lift the train off its tracks. For a NYC to LA track that would mean tunneling through the western divide. Another thing the higher the speed the straighter the track, you have to remember the passengers and g-forces both lateral and longitudinal. You wouldn't want to arrive at either end and the passengers suffering a variety of broken bones. If a lot of curves are involved the speed is lowered so it is hard to compete against high speed rail. Another erroneous statement is the power requirement, the trains themselves provide their own power with turbine generators, so their is carbon based fuels used. Then there is the main power requirement, depending on speed the track below and anywhere from 2 km to 20 km must be electrified, yes their savings in only the immediate vicinity of a train must be electrified but where is that electricity coming from. The US doesn't have a guaranteed supply of clean electricity because you refuse to build nuclear power plants on tectonically stable land so the few you do have are on land not suitable such as islands, river deltas and earthquake zones. In the north, hydroelectric systems are small as the river systems are shared with another country in most locations. So 75% of US power production comes from coal and hydrocarbons. At best a Maglev would require a power station every 100 miles or so, it wouldn't have to be large but it would have to be available all the time. Here the Chinese will probably provide the earliest figures on requirements as they are now talking a Maglev connection from Shanghai to Beijing a distance of approximately 650 miles. I do know the German company that built Shanghai's Maglev has been hired to study the feasibility and requirements of said link. There is no reason an above ground track cannot achieve 600 mph on its own, it has nothing to do with air friction, it does have to do with the speed of sound and restrictions most countries have placed on commercial flights breaking the sound barrier over land, this would apply equally to trains. As for tunnels unless someone comes up with a whole new technology, absolute vacuum is impossible so any air could build a pressure wave that would lift the train from its track. If the Chinese experiment is successful, then Maglev might get built for quick commutes NYC to Washington, DC, LA to SF, LA to Vegas, Ottawa to Montreal or Montreal to Toronto and Ottawa to Toronto, all straight line runs on pretty even terrain.
As a follow-up ? I believe the overall concept of this type of transportation has been around for a long time. But, like anything else, cutting edge ideas sometimes come years before there is practical technology to implement them. Overall all however, the concepts put forth in the article are now practical and I suspect we have already developed most of the needed technologies. So it looks to me like this is now a "practical implementation" problem; a problem that probably should be taken in a few steps to what ever the more-or-less final version of the concept maybe. It is also true significant electrical energy to support this kind of infrastrucure will be needed and in many locations...including a number of levels of redundancy. It is also true this type of project goes hand-in-hand with electrical generation development (including energy policy development). I think it is pretty clear, whether we like it or not, a combination of advanced coal and nuclear driven power plants is the longer term solution for the energy needs of these kinds and projects, as well as the only way we are going to substantially free ourselves from foreign oil in the next 25 to 40 years. I know almost every practical energy-source option has it detractors, but once again, if we wait too long to move forward with advanced energy development, and pick up on leading the way in infrastructure and industrial development, it going to be "too late." Dr. Raymond C. Rask
As a follow-up ? I believe the overall concept of this type of transportation has been around for a long time. But, like anything else, cutting edge ideas sometimes come years before there is practical technology to implement them. Overall all however, the concepts put forth in the article are now practical and I suspect we have already developed most of the needed technologies. So it looks to me like this is now a "practical implementation" problem; a problem that probably should be taken in a few steps to what ever the more-or-less final version of the concept maybe. It is also true significant electrical energy to support this kind of infrastrucure will be needed and in many locations...including a number of levels of redundancy. It is also true this type of project goes hand-in-hand with electrical generation development
Yes we all know that this idea has been batted back and forth over the net for a while now. And it is attractive -- and should work as portrayed. But in a world under increasing threat from terror actors, is it wise to put all our eggs in the single basket of a transportation system that is so vulnerable? To wit: All you need to do, to bring down at least one train full of people, is a lump of C4 placed on the outside of the tube, and timed to blow the envelope when a train is in that section. Air rushes in, a 600 miles-per-hour train hits the side of the tube and disintegrates, or runs into a sudden pressure wave rushing down the tunnel, and all one has left of the 300 or so people and hi-tech, is a smear along the inside wall of the tube. Needless to say this could put a major cramp into the continuance of the idea.
Yeh, this science fiction stuff is all very fine... But, with the current growth in the global resource use of the human race, the shit will hit the fan way, way before this train becomes of practical use.
@Don: producing the energy in a power plant is vastly more efficient than burning fuel in a vehicle's engine, so it's still a net savings even when the source is dirty. Re: nuclear, I'd much rather have a shopping cart full of nuclear waste to bury five miles below the earth once a year than a constant flow of pollutants into the air and water, wouldn't you? Or no? Is nuclear too scary? Get used to it, coal and nuclear are the only options on the table until solar & other renewable energy reaches viability, and then there's a hefty half-century of transitioning to them (unless you intend to wave a magic wand and build the replacements overnight). Might as well make the best of a bad situation, rather than poo-pooing and obstructing everything that doesn't fit into your personal fairy tale.
IEEE Spectrum had an article about this type of train back in the 1970's. The article mentions a train traveling in a vacuum traveling across the US so fast that passengers would be weightless. Centrifugal force would counteract gravity. lprucha
Oh, come on. If you are mixing Imperial and SI, just stop using the former. Everyone understands what 1 Mm/s is.
The tube-Maglev may be years away, but the Straddling Bus is a year away: http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/2010/08/06/2010-08-06_chinas_straddling_bus_could_ease_traffic_reduce_pollution.html ...and fully funded.
I thought of this idea about 40 years ago, but at the time it was a fantasy. Why stop at 600 m.p.h.? With little or no air in the tube, sound would be no "barrier" and I am sure levitation could be combined with propulsion.
I don't know why everyone is picking over the minute details, it's still a concept at the beginning stages of development. The real questions are not whether the train can go 200 mph or 1000 mph, or what happens when something breaks; the real concern is where the true technology development and implementation is taking place (not in the U.S.). The United States is so bogged down in political B.S. that we are falling further and further behind in the re-industrialization and reconstruction of our infrastructure of our country. We, the greatest power the world should be working these types of technologies to rebuild our infrastructure. We, the greatest power of the world should be spending the vast resources (borrowed as they may be) on the very best infrastructure on which to move forward through the next 100 years. Instead, sadly, we are beginning to look like Europe in the late 1890's and early 1900's, we are what is quickly becoming a "former" super power in terms of economic growth, economic strength, infrastructure and industrial development. To borrow a few words from Winston Churchill in 1940 and substitute the place, ...If the United States does not soon wake up and make significant changes, history will cast its verdict with those two chilling words, "too late." That's the view from here .... Dr. Raymond C.Rask
Dear JTF243@... interspersed are the answers to your concerns, in bold: 08/09/10 | Report as spam RE: China developing 600 mph airless maglev high-speed train In the article, it was written as "floating a tube above the ocean floor, anchored with cables", not ON the floor, as anothe poster thought. HOWEVER (there's always one of those!), if these tubes are suspended below the waters surface at a reasonable depth (for maintenance, rescue, etc.), what protection will they have from fishing trawlers that drag the bottom??? everyone will be eating pink, blue and green dodecahedron capsules manufactured out of non-living matter, there will be no fishing, besides, all the fish will be extinct. Or from whales on their annual migrations?? they will be extinct, too Or military vessels doing "exercises"? All workers necessary will be created in state run laboratories, being genetically rendered docile and incapable of an original thought there will be no need for any military. Or some terrorist with a depth charge?? as above there will be no "terrorists." In fact, with several hundred thousand workers we 300 elites can live peaceably on this planet without the need for much transportation beyond our private aircraft, which at present can achieve orbit from a dead start on a standard runway and land at the farthest possible point on the globe within 70 minutes. Come to think of it maybe we don't need these trains. TOO MANY WEAK LINKS!! We're terribly sorry, we have been working on this one for some 300 years with a few major setbacks amidst the twentieth century in particular. No one considered that Adolph would have contracted syphilis, for example, IBM took a tremendous hit on that one. Happy to report we're back on schedule for the Mayan thing, though. ...uh, you are a shareholder... are you not?
I read about this in 1972 when the RAND corporation said that we could build two tunnels under the United States from New York City to LA. I would have preferred the lines to go from Washington to San Francisco simply because at either end it would be about halfway along the coast. At that time they were saying it was NYC to LA in a very short period of time, with half the distance being accelerated at one G, and the other half decelerating at one G. Assuming two trains going through different tunnels at one time, one train using dynamic breaking could generate a lot of the energy for accelerating the other train. The speed of the trains would be limited by the fact that going faster would cause the passengers to experience weightlessness at top speed, assuming the tubes were following the curvature of the earth, and people might react badly to that. If you were shipping freight, however, you would be able to travel much faster. Imagine a heart destined for a transplant crossing the continent in less that fifteen minutes. As others have pointed out, shouldn't we be developing this technology? We can avoid fault lines, build in the safeguards. We do not stop flying just because some planes crash, but statistically planes crash a lot less often than they used to crash because we engineer them to be better and safer. At the time of the RAND report, they said we could put two tubes across the USA for about 50 billion dollars. Now the estimate is a trillion dollars, but haven't we spent more than that on the Iraq war....or on putting someone on the moon?
From some of the posters' comments, you can tell that the West is green with envy on China reemergence as the #1 Middle Kingdom all over again. Welcome to China's Millenium.
@mybunkaccount I agree with you, our train is really gone off its rails . . . but there is some good news to be thankful for: its nice to know that China is spending its time, money and intellectual energy working on concepts like this that will improve life on our planet, instead of concerning themselves with cultural or intellectual purity circa 1950. If the current mindsetS in this country are any indication, when our kids are our age, China wil be the top dog on this planet, economically (they already are), politically, culturally and perhaps militarily. Maybe its not all bad news for humanity that they want to build an expensive network of airless maglev high-speed trains.
Transrapid is a German train. The rest is wild chinese hallucinations. I thought weed was illegal there.
If you reduce the air pressure in the tunnel, would that not also lower the speed of Mach one. I assume that a "perfect" vacuum will not be obtainable in the tunnel. If you lower the value of Mach one, then it becomes possible for the train to become transonic. Will that become a problem?
We need non-gas powered vehicles, not 600 mph airless maglev high-speed trains. Man needs to get its priorities in order.
In the article, it was written as "floating a tube above the ocean floor, anchored with cables", not ON the floor, as anothe poster thought. HOWEVER (there's always one of those!), if these tubes are suspended below the waters surface at a reasonable depth (for maintenance, rescue, etc.), what protection will they have from fishing trawlers that drag the bottom??? Or from whales on their annual migrations?? Or military vessels doing "exercises"? Or some terrorist with a depth charge?? TOO MANY WEAK LINKS!!
...starts by realizing that... In The Beginning, there was NO BOX. Then Man looked at what was, and drew a box dividing the Universe. Nature, however, recognizes NO BOX. The best way to think outside the box is to avoid drawing one in the first place.
Just one note on who "invented" what. the actual inventor of the modern VacTrain concept was Dr. Robert Goddard (also the founding father of liquid fuel rocketry). Dr. Goddard conceived and detailed the principals of VacTrains in 1910. While some of the speeds he predicted were even more questionable than some of the figures quoted in this article (given the time and the technology), credit where credit is do.
@20: i hope you are being sarcastic... there isn't enough material on earth to make a tunnel even remotely as long as that. 5.879 trillion miles in a light year, so saying "over 20 trillion miles" should suffice. bear in mind, the earth is only about 25000 miles around. a tunnel as long as you are talking about would circle the earth 800,000,000 times. Math. It Bursts Bubbles.
Hey, this could really work! What a great idea! This could be used to go to other stars too. Just build a 4 light year long tunnel, install vacuum in it, than get on a train. Sign me up! :-)
Save the fluff for when they have it working. This idea is so old it's getting weathered around the edges. There are problems, as with anything new. There is potential for fantastic disasters: 1) hull integrity break exposing passengers to hard vacuum. Pretty thin stuff to breath. 2) transport mechanism failure, trapping a train underground in vacuum. 3) other unknowns. But it's definitely possible, and regardless of the power generation used, ANY train is more efficient than a whole bunch of internal combustion engines churning away to move things. But is it a priority? Climatic change is a given on the planet as currently laid out--with or without humans, the climate is variable, the star is variable. Climate, being historical, won't 'change' until we have sufficient history to say it is different--too late to do anything. The Weather patterns ARE changing, and so far it's not looking good. We might be able to stabilize the climate by piping cold Pacific water to the Atlantic side of the Panama Isthmus--the only plan which is quick and cheap to implement, easy to turn on or off if it causes problems, and requiring only one government's approval.
@ Andrew My point was, a 100mph difference is a BIG deal on a long distance trip - you don't seem to think it is. Imagine entering a cross country endurance race. Now imagine that one competitor had a vehicle that could run the race at 100mph faster than everyone else. He could stop and eat a leisurely meal several times a day, even take a few long naps, and still beat everyone else who only stopped for gas and a take-out burger. I just want you to put things in a little more perspective when making statements. AND, I don't care how fast they can make a conventional rail train go! If it goes more than 100mph, I ain't gettting on it! Ever seen the pictures of what happens when a train leaves the rails at realatively LOW speeds (50-70mph)? I don't want to exerience that at 2 or 3 hundred mph. Of course, it would probably be over with and nothing but body parts scattered everywhere before I knew what was happening. I wonder what happens when the MagLev train, traveling at 400mph, experiences a power failure? I see the train bottom being heated to the point of melting, itself and everyone in it, from the friction of sliding on the rail (or whatever you call it). I'll pass on that, too.
Let see, we should not have developed air travel because autos were just as fast. We should not have developed rail travel because horses were just as fast. We should not have developed steam ships because sailing ships worked just fine and needed no coal or oil. We should not have developed houses because caves were free. I could go on....
Invented here, built over there. Never could be a small radio, so sell the transistor to the Japanese. I was heralded a quack in national magazines when I said tv screens and monitors could be flat (less than 1 inch) and hang on the wall. Built the prototype, and guess what, the rest is history. Again, called quack for pushing HDTV. Guess what. The important thing is trying and building a future on new technology, not arm chair snipping. mybunkaccount is right, and btw, did you know that we rank around 23 in the world now in students in math skills. We already are 2nd class, and many people here are pushing us farther down. Go China, we will buy the technology from you sometime in the future, if we can afford it anymore, while we are still strung out on oil. We already buy most of our electronic gear from you, our appliances, and our toys, our dog food, and most of the steel for our cars. Our airplane parts are starting to be built there. Might as well build our future transportation there because they are not afraid to try, yet we will give billions to crooks on wall street so they can stay rich. Great logically thinking about the future.
The speeds at which current high-speed rail trains operate and the possible maximum demonstrated are two totally different figures. In April 2007, a high-speed French train with a special engine and wheels broke the world speed record for conventional rail trains by reaching 357.2 mph. (Read it here: http://bit.ly/5oBRqw) The bottom line: Maglev has proved to be much faster on paper, but it hasn't yet demonstrated a major improvement (that's worth the infrastructure switch) over conventional trains.
It's amazing to watch China (and Europe) leapfrog America in civic achievements and to then listen to the disbelieving comments in here. Kiss your children and grandchildren on the forehead and understand that YOUR lack of foresight guarantees that they will live in a second class nation before long. Poor kids.
What researchers say from the laboratory is a far cry (and usually a huge letdown) from a real technology. The first line of this story is another example of bad journalism - high speed rail got absolutely zero from this research concept.
The problem is that its just a nice concept. Their current mag lev train, while fast doesn't go very far. Doesn't matter how fast you can get the train to go when there are no tracks. No mag lev trains out there has the ability to go long distance or even a 100 miles for that matter.
"Pure fantasy?" Be careful with statements like that... Because that's what they said about "heavier than air flying-machines" and a fair number of other techs we take for granted these days. To quote Yanni, "Everything great that has ever happened to humanity, started as a single thought..." This idea may still have some bugs in it, but there's potential galore in it. It's just a matter of how long it will take us to make the most of that potential.
One more thing: They are considering running the tubes along the bottom of the ocean anchored by cables. OK. Just one problem. In order to reach the bottom of the ocean, in most parts of it, you must be in a PRESSURIZED submarine to keep it from imploding. Just what the heck do they plan to build these tubes out of to keep them from being crushed by the water pressure? 10 foot thick titanium, or what? Doesn't sound cost effective to me at all.
Re: reading before publishing: I should ask you to do the same! The Chinese train project in question is targeting 600 mph as its top speed. Oster's claim for his ETT tech: "Speed in initial ETT systems is 350 mph for in state trips, and will be developed to 4,000 mph for international travel that will take you from NYC to Beijing in 2 hours at a tenth the cost of airfare."
You Said: "The catch with maglev technology is that there?s still friction from the air rushing past the train as it hurtles down the tracks. To date, the fastest Maglev train managed about 361 miles per hour ? not much faster than a conventional high-speed train." Wikipedia says: "High-speed rail (HSR) is a type of passenger rail transport that operates significantly faster than the normal speed of rail traffic. Specific definitions by the European Union include 200 km/h (120 mph) for upgraded track and 250 km/h (160 mph) or faster for new track. In Japan Shinkansen lines run at speeds in excess of 260 km/h (160 mph) and are built using standard gauge track with no at-grade crossings. In China, high-speed conventional rail lines operate at top speeds of 350 km/h (220 mph), and one maglev line reaches speeds of 431 km/h (268 mph)." I don't know about anyone else, but I see a BIG difference in the speed of the 'protptype' and the speed of the conventional high speed rail trains (even the fastest, in China, is about 70mph slower than the prototype is supposed to be. Also, consider that the 'average' speed of the proposed functional train line will be TWICE as fast as conventional, and top speed THREE times the speed. Tell you what, I'll take the prototype from NY to LA, you take the equivalent of the fastet Chinese conventional rail train. When my train gets to LA, your train stops. You get off and drive a car the rest of the way and let's see how much longer it takes you to get there. Better yet, you walk the rest of the way. I'll have a new career started and will have found a wife and finished my honeymoon by the time you get there. You people think too much in terms of computer speed. Sure, 200mhz vs. 100mhz is not that big a jump in a ghz world, but even 100mph faster IS a big deal when factored over a few hours. Get real, Andrew.