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The trains of the future3 min read

November 24, 2020 3 min read

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The trains of the future3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

All Things Science

Elon Musk proposed the idea of a Hyperloop and announced it on live TV in 2012, leaving the idea open for anyone to bring to reality. He also published his ideas in a whitepaper for anybody to execute on.

The basic idea of a hyperloop is this. A passenger pod would enter an enclosed train track, which is like a tube. The tube would then have all the air sucked out of it, making it a vacuum. In a vacuum, since there’s no air, there is no air resistance or friction, making the Hyperloop very energy-efficient. Depending on the seating capacity of the pod, one or multiple passengers can travel in each of them. There can be many passenger pod’s in transit, one following the next one in quick succession. That way you can have thousands of passengers travelling between any two cities in a Hyperloop tube.

Inside a passenger pod. Photo: Argodesign

Several companies have already started to bring this idea to reality. The two companies leading the race are Virgin Hyperloop One, which has gotten the farthest, and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, or HTT.

Virgin Hyperloop has just reached a big milestone in the race to become the first company to have a fully operational Hyperloop. It has just completed their first successful passenger test. Their two employees entered the pod, and Virgin Hyperloop sucked the air out. The passenger pod reached 107 mph, in Virgin Hyperloop’s test site in Las Vegas, NV in the US. Even though there were only 2 passengers on this test, Virgin Hyperloop hopes to scale it up. They hope to have as many passengers on a Hyperloop as we have today in the normal trains, and possibly many more.

What’s coming up next?

Virgin Hyperloop next hopes to connect Mumbai and Pune. The current travel time between these two cities is 2 hours and 40 minutes, and Virgin Hyperloop hopes to cut off 2 hours and 15 minutes of that! This would make the travel time just about 25 minutes! It also hopes to get high-speed rail into Dubai, a city in the UAE, which is currently its most famous project.

The fastest speed a train has currently reached is Japan’s Maglev train (short for magnetic levitation), which has a top speed of 270 mph(430 km/h). Virgin Hyperloop hopes to make their train almost 500 mph(800 km/h) faster, at almost 770 mph(1240 km/h)!

The Maglev trains of Japan

The Hyperloop has a lot of potential, and I wish we could speed into the future to see it fully operational!

Guest Author: Rishi is a 7th grader and basketball fan. He has a sports YouTube channel with 50 subscribers and aspires to make it 1M someday. He likes watching space launches, reading about building rockets.

(All Things Science is weekly column about science, space and other things around it.)