Cities vie to hop on super-speedy hyperloop rail

January 7, 2017 by Glenn Chapman
Hyperloop One global field operations senior vice president Nick Earle (L) and co-founders Rob Lloyd (C) and Josh Giegel at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

US startup Hyperloop One disclosed a list of locations around the world vying to put near-supersonic rail transit system to the test.

The startup company keen to revolutionize the way people and cargo travel said that 35 contenders remained from a field of 2,600 teams in a Hyperloop One Grand Challenge launched in May 2015.

Viable submissions had to be condoned by government agencies that would likely be involved in regulating and, ideally, funding the futuristic rail.

Projects in the running included hyperloop rail connecting Sydney and Melbourne; Shanghai and Hangzhou; Mumbai and Delhi, and London and Edinburgh.

There were also 11 US teams in contention.

"There has been a lot of talk about reviving the infrastructure in the United States," Hyperloop One co-founder and engineering president Josh Giegel told AFP at Consumer Electronics Show.

"If that is the plan, there is a good chance we would start working with them," he said, referring to the incoming administration of Donald Trump.

Hyperloop One wants to get three systems underway, according to chief executive Rob Lloyd.

"The end goal is to increase our pipeline of real projects," said Hyperloop One of global field operations Nick Earle.

Dubai late last year agreed to a deal to evaluate construction of a hyperloop link that could slash travel times to Emirati capital Abu Dhabi to minutes.

The cash-flush city state, which has hosted other hi-tech transport pilots, said it would conduct a "feasibility study" with Hyperloop One to sound out the scheme.

Dubai Road Transport Authority's director general Mattar al-Tayer speaks to the press after the signing of a deal to evaluate construction of a hyperloop link

Broadband for cargo

The company executives said that a hyperloop test system is being constructed in the desert outside of Las Vegas.

Hyperloop One had originally promised a full-scale demonstration by the end of 2016, after a successful test of the propulsion system.

"We are not only proving it will work, which we will do in the next few months, but we want to focus on cutting down cost and manufacturing time," Lloyd said.

The startup's reasons for being at the Consumer Electronics show included collaborating with the self-driving car industry to make sure autonomous vehicles will inter-operate with the hyperloop system, loading themselves into pods to be whisked off to far-away destinations, according to Earle.

"A self-driving Uber would be able to go inside the and come out the other side," Earle said.

"It's like broadband internet for transportation" with self-driving vehicles carrying cargo or people in a real-world spin on data packets being taken quickly from one point to another over the internet, he maintained.

Hyperloop One, which has so far raised more than $160 million (145 million euros), was set on an idea laid out by billionaire Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind electric car company Tesla and private space exploration endeavor SpaceX.

Pods would rocket along rails through reduced-pressure tubes at speeds of 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) per hour.

Hyperloop One says the system offers better safety than passenger jets, lower build and maintenance costs than high-speed trains, and energy usage, per person, that is similar to a bicycle.

Port colossus DP World Group of Dubai last year invested in the concept, joining backers including French national rail company SNCF, US industrial conglomerate General Electric and Russian state fund RDIF.

Hyperloop One late last year settled a lawsuit filed by a co-founder who accused former colleagues of nepotism, threats and mismanagement.

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2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 08, 2017
Ha ha! $150M won't pay for 1/10th of a MILE on a regular subway today. This is just another left-lib envirokook initiative designed to wage war on cars at tax-payer expense.
3 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2017
@rrrander: The problem gets even worse when you look at the plans behind this company. They literally have no clue about the technical side. A real system traveling at those speeds would require at least 15 years of development and testing with teams of top engineers a few billion in costs to achieve those speeds reliable. And that would still not reduce the very high tube cost issue and the major technical and volume limitations mentioned.

Just image the Germans which build the only commercial maglev system operating today in China worked 20 years of testing and developing their system with epic amounts of engineers and support from the government on their German based Maglev 'Transrapid' test track. Only after all those years did 1 customer come willing to pay bigtime. The commercial maglev plans across the EU were all finally abandoned for the much cheaper (but still expensive) High Speed Rail lines. Which now after 30 years connect most big cities in Europe. Not even the US.
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 08, 2017
close analyses shows this hyperloop is a load of impractical expensive crap;


It would be vastly more cost effective just to make some modest improvements to the existing rail network; about the same benefit for about 100 times less cost.
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 08, 2017
Just putting money into high speed rails would be enormously more reasonable. In the U.S., fixing low speed rails would be more productive.

Aside from the enormous costs of cutting the tunnels and maintaining them and the technological challenges which have hardly been studied much less solved, consider what happens in a closed, low pressure tube with contents traveling 750 mph when there is a failure in the transport system. Just extracting the remains would be a major undertaking.
3 / 5 (4) Jan 08, 2017
consider what happens in a closed, low pressure tube with contents traveling 750 mph when there is a failure in the transport system. Just extracting the remains would be a major undertaking
Well you would be just as dead if the train you were on crashed in a ball of fire in a tunnel.

Remember, it's not how you die that determines whether you get into heaven or not.
close analyses shows this hyperloop is a load of impractical expensive crap
My grandfather said this about the horseless carriage. And electricity. I used to drive his '51 Desoto around as a kid.
5 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2017
@theGhostofotto, True. But the fact is most ideas don`t make it to the commercial market. It is very difficult. Even much more so with new transportation systems. Apart from the on average low speed Acella Express there is not even any high speed rail in the United States. There are so many problems with this new one that go way beyond that. Even Maglev was too expensive to reach the wider market. Now we are talking about something in large ugly tubes high in the sky that so many people and city planners will protest. Much higher speeds. Low pressure systems which are difficult to operate at such scales (and with people in them!). Let alone do it all affordable and reliable. And finally do it at high volume to make it all commercially practical. So incredible many obstacles that it is hard to imagine. Especially when you see reports by the company showing they are just after the money and don`t know much about any of the needed background technology. And just look at that picture.
2.1 / 5 (7) Jan 08, 2017
Yup, count me in as a skeptic. Too many problems to solve.
5 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2017

If the Good Lord had intended for us to ride public transport he wouldn't have given us cars. We need to build walls to keep the furriners out instead. Why don't they cut taxes and give us free gas for our pickups? That would help the families. And keep the gubmint out of my medicare too!!!!!!
4 / 5 (4) Jan 08, 2017
I rode on the Maglev In Shanghai a few years ago. At 220kph, it jumps around so much that you could not hold a cup of coffee without it spilling everywhere.

At 1200kph (over 5 times as fast), you'd have to have the tubes supported on computer adjusted supports with lasers, actively aligning constantly along the entire route. They would need to adjust for wind, pressure changes, ground movement, temperature gradients, sun loads, the weight of the train moving thru it, expansion/contraction of the tubes, and probably lots more.

Conceptually, it's a great idea. But it would need decades and billions to develop.
not rated yet Jan 08, 2017
@Lischyn. The Maglev in Shanghai is the German developed system, the only commercial high speed maglev in the world and moves at 450 Kph. Not 220 Kph. So perhaps you had driven a normal high speed train. Secondly the tube system would not have to adjust for winds since it is in a tube and at very low pressure. While there is friction from the low amount of air there is no wind in the traditional sense and no sun loads either. Still of course i agree it would be insanely complex and difficult to manage safely. Let alone affordable or at high volumes.
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 08, 2017
Now we are talking about something in large ugly tubes high in the sky that so many people and city planners will protest
High tension power lines and cloverleaf intersections are ugly. So what?
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2017
@ Max5000.

Lischyn is correct. You are so wrong you are not even wrong. The Maglev in Shanghai has a maximum speed of 300kph. The average is 225kph. Except for an hour and a half in the morning and again in the afternoon when the max is 430kph.

Further, the wind he was speaking of is the wind-loading on the tube itself A good gust of wind can actually shake any structure raised about the ground. Ditto the sun, heating from the sun with cooling from the shaded side will cause most materials to expand and contract. For something that moves at 1200kph, a couple of millimeters are very significant. It would be an engineer's nightmare to design with those factors.
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2017
Further, the wind he was speaking of is the wind-loading on the tube itself A good gust of wind can actually shake any structure raised about the ground. Ditto the sun, heating from the sun with cooling
Uh huh. So in your opinion as a structural engineer and materials scientist these things are undesignable? Or are you just pretending? And no it would be an engineers wet dream to do a project like this.
1 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2017
This is just one more Musk plan to suck tax dollars into his coffers. Look out Wall Street because he has his eyes on investor dollars also. He is just a high tech con man and I am surprised that he has not tried to peddle cold fusion yet.
not rated yet Jan 09, 2017
@ Sionnach. Are you joking. 450/430 Kph. Who cares. Fact is it does move at those very high speeds i mentioned. Which is much faster then his mentioned 220. The newest version of these transrapids are said to go even faster at 500 Kph. The Japanese version can go even faster then that.

The fact is the difference between 430 and 220 is astronomical and hence why Maglev was developed. That they want to save money on electricity most of the day is understandable. The track was in retrospect too expensive to earn back. Higher speeds mean much higher air friction and thus a hugely increased electricity bill per kilometer traveled. That you travel faster does not mean it is more cost effective.
not rated yet Jan 09, 2017
I meant wind loading on the tube itself from terrestial winds. This could be significant since these tubes are probably huge in diameter. It also probably means that the span between supports has to be short. Which in turn means a huge amount of supports which drives costs up.

The system is probably doable. But at a huge cost from design, construction and maintenance.

It might be cheaper instead of a vacuum, just to blow air thru the tube at 1200kph :)

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