The Concorde of Trains: Hyperloop

By Nick Miles

London Underground calls itself ‘the Tube’, but Elon Musk‘s Hyperloop is the real deal.

Elon Musk, the co-founder of PayPal, SpaceX and super-eco car brand, Tesla Motors, has also now invented the Hyperloop, a next-generation high speed train designed to rocket passengers to destinations nearly 900 miles away in half an hour.

To put that into perspective, that would mean the 7+ hour drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco could soon become a half hour train ride thanks to this pressurised-tube transport system. In fact, in a  paper outlining the Hyperloop proposal, Musk suggested the solar-powered  system would be a far faster, safer, less costly, and more efficient mode of transport between Los Angeles and San Francisco than the high-speed train currently under development.


The train works by propelling aluminium pods down a pair of steel tubes at 800 miles an hour using external linear electric motors positioned every 70 miles to maintain their speed. To compensate for the inevitable air friction that occurs at such speeds, the tubes would use standard compressors to ensure a low-pressure environment while an electric compressor at the nose of each pod offloads pressure toward the back.
Of course, jettisoning Joe and Jane Commuter at nearly sonic speeds down a tube raises some serious safety concerns, but the Hyperloop would space each pod five miles apart to allow for collision-free emergency braking, meaning a total tube capacity of 70 pods at a time.

But who will build this futuristic wonder? It seems one Dr Marco Villa, former director of mission operations at SpaceX, and Dr Patricia Galloway, a former president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, have been named as the heads of the Hyperloop Transporation Technologies (HTT), the group that will develop the train.

HTT has reached agreements with companies that will help develop the tech behind the Hyperloop, such as, ANSYS, which has created an advanced computer simulation of the system that shows it is viable.

HTT has also partnered with GloCal Network Corporation, which will focus on the mechanics of building the ambitious transportation system, and SUPRASTUDIO, a graduate programme with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) which will explore where stations could be placed in two different cities.


There is now  a four-stage plan for creating  the system, starting with an environmental analysis and then working up to the actual construction phase.  With an  estimated cost is upwards of $6bn, one of the main hurdles the project faces is simply getting funded, but despite the cost, those behind the project are enthusiastic: .

“We jumped on this once in a lifetime opportunity to work with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies,” said Professor James Dimitrios Constantine Seferis, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of GloCal Network Corporation.

And we can’t wait to jump on the Hyperloop, too.

Chere Di Boscio
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