Hyperloop Train Concept Combines Trains, Jet Speeds, and Solar Energy
The development of faster transportation technology has been pivotal to the advancement of civilization in general. The faster we can travel means the faster can share information and goods, and reach our destinations, thus stabilizing the globalized state of our planet.
Now, imagine that things are going to be faster. If our current passenger jets can take us from Los Angeles to San Francisco in around 1 hour, think that another medium of transportation can take the exact same route and take just half as long. That is because one innovator is ambitiously thinking of revolutionizing the train in the exact same way, using solar energy.
Elon Musk, the co-founder of the influential Tesla Motors (the company that designed the Roadster and Model S EV’s) was the brainchild of a new concept that involved mass transportation and green energy. He unveiled his plans for this idea as the “Hyperloop”. It is generally described as a new type of transit system that should be more than twice as fast as a commercial jet, yet entirely powered only by solar energy.
Most of the technical details are still not present though and this idea only remains as a “pre-proposal”. We can be sure however, that the Hyperloop train would be designed to be as open and available as possible to the common people. Elon Musk firmly believes that it could provide very fast travel at a cost that is much less than a plane ticket. We can also probably speculate that it would not necessarily use any groundbreaking technology. The propulsion for example, could use either maglev or ground effect (air hover) technology, although naturally the final iteration of such technology application would have already advanced by that time.
Regardless of the actual specifications of the Hyperloop train though, its theme of affordability, speed, convenience and environmental-friendliness could have surprising ripple effects in transportation economics should it actually turn out as perfect as they had hoped.
The idea of trains that is largely powered by solar energy is a concept that was already previously used in a few railway transit lines around the world. For example, the same fundamental concept was used for the construction of the train line that goes from Paris, France to Amsterdam, Netherlands. Unlike the proposal that Elon Musk had made though, the trains themselves do not have the solar panels, but are instead installed and stretched within 2 miles on top of the train line. The idea of trains outrunning jets is not new either. The conceptual evacuated tube transport system (maglev trains running on vacuum tunnels) were already designed to outrun an SR-71 Blackbird jet long before this idea was ever conceived. So generally, it is the combination of these two ideas that makes the “Hyperloop” train a bit more unique.
While the innovation itself looks quite promising, we are still left with the question of whether it would actually turn out to be a real project, and if it is really a good venture to invest in at all. We probably won’t know the answer for the next few years yet, and it looks like we’ll have no choice but to wait and see.
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