back to article Elon Musk unveils Hyperloop – the subsonic tube of tomorrow

After months of hint-dropping, Elon Musk has published the first plans for a high-speed transport system that would take commuters from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 35 minutes at a cost of $20 per person. Hyperloop plans Hyperloop on the drawing board Musk's earlier description of the system, dubbed Hyperloop, described it …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge

A pipeline?

If each passenger was given a small barrel of oil to carry it could solve some other problems the government is having getting a project through

7
0

Re: A pipeline?

nearly a pipeline!

It would probably be ideal to set up a prototype with the fall back of using it as a goods service (express parcels for TNT or Fed Ex) if the public don't take to being spam in a can.

If it does become popular running goods at night may be viable, hence suitable investment could come from those sectors.

I'm still not 100% convinced on the signalling system though.. I guess time and prototypes will tell...

2
0
Childcatcher

Re: A pipeline?

Whats in a pipeline?

"where snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night would stay these capsules from the swift completion of their appointed rounds"

Fit for Shakespeare.

0
0
Pint

Re: A pipeline?

Isn't the signaling system kind of simple though? what i mean is that it does not have sidings/branch lines etc all it needs to do is take them off at one end and put them on at the other, or did i miss something?

Quite funny how they mention the larger distance version is not as suitable as shorter distance version due to supersonic aircraft being more viable for the long haul. So that would be which supersonic passenger aircraft? Even when one is built it would not be allowed to go supersonic over U.S land (which was a major contributor to Concorde's lack of take up), so why even mention it?

Mind you he might have a supersonic ex mil jet somewhere and they did fire Bond down a pipeline before and he owns space launchers. Maybe Musk is just seeing how far money,brains and wanting to be james bond will get him!

Nice idea, would be really cool (especially the car carrier version) but like the segway lots of hype but nothing changes.

2
0
Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: A pipeline?

@Mips "Fit for Shakespeare"

Well, yes. But it's a modified quotation of the motto of the US Postal Service, which is in turn a translation of Herodotus. So it's either more recent than Shakespeare, or much older.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: isn't the signaling system kind of simple though?

It'll need to know if there is a problem ahead, meaning only one 'train' per signalled segment, OR uninterrupted reliable communication which might be trivial if it were not at 600mph in a steel tube.

0
0

Re: A pipeline?

What I like about Musk, though, is that he comes along with fully-formed and costed solutions. This isn't an entirely vapourware concept; he's sat down with his team and figured out the initial logistics to make it real.

He's also highlighted how governments can be utterly lazy in their own solutions as they don't really care about the costs they incur.

Why don't we have more maglev?

1
0
Pav
Happy

Re: A pipeline?

NEITHER RAIN NOR SNOW NOR GLOM OF NIT CAN STAY THESE MESSENGERS ABOT THIER DUTY

2
0
Silver badge

Comms isn't as hard as you think

Thanks to skeleton slot antennas. They're widely usedon aircraft and have zero surface profile.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: A pipeline?

The US only banned supersonic craft because they wanted to kill off Concorde, until Boeing came up with a US-built supersonic jet liner.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: A pipeline?

It's not as conspiratorial as you think. The reason the Concorde wasn't really allowed over land (and note: Europe didn't want the Concorde flying over land EITHER...for the same reasons) was because of its sonic boom. Anyone living near a military jet base will know the problem, and there can be many complaints about not just loud jet noise but also sonic booms shaking houses and so on. Concorde's sonic boom was particularly bad because it was designed for efficiency: not noise mitigation.

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Roo
Silver badge

Damn it

I can't get the 2000AD Nemesis story (the Terrortubes) out of my head. :)

1
0
Silver badge

Be pure, be vigilant...

... BEHAVE!

3
0
Meh

Re: Damn it

Hum. Googling 'Terrortubes' I get tube guitar amps and shotgun shells. I doubt that either of those were what you were refencing....

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Damn it

Try here.

Featuring someone who looks a lot like Kenny Everett giving travel news.

1
0
Silver badge
Meh

Good luck

He'll need it. This is far from the first time that the combination of electromagnetic propulsion + vacuum tube (or semi-vacuum in this case) has been planned. The results have been so far underwhelming.

I have to say, apart from the $6bn cost to build the system, the 7 million passengers a year also seems optimistic to me. Without even talking of having the whole thing self-powered by solar cells.

It is good that there are people who try to push the limits of what is possible, but don't count on me to buy these bonds.

1
1
Silver badge

Re: Good luck

I'd buy, but not because I saw it paying for my kids college. This is a bit of a nutty idea but personally I think this is one we should try just to see what the reality is.

It shouldn't affect smaller towns as it's effectively an express service so it's customers wouldn't have stopped over anyway. The days of getting off the train and strolling around town while they refill the water and coal are long gone.

We use little metal cans with 8 seats that rocket all over the place right now. Cessna 208's or island hoppers. I prefer them to big jets but big jets are probably safer.

4
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Good luck

7.4 mln passengers a year X $20 X 20 years is less than 3bln dollars just in revenue, not profit. So the proposed 20-year bonds could only raise a fraction of the construction price.

7.4 mln passengers a year is quite possible if the thing performs as specced IF they're calculating a passenger as 1-way, not return. With a 23-mile distance between capsules at the max speed of 760 mph gives a bit under 2 minutes between capsules, so 30 capsules X 28 people an hour gives a potential maximum of over 20k passengers a day each way. That's 7.4 mln return trips if operating at peak 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So 7.4 million single journeys (50% of max theoretical capacity) is probably a reasonable estimate. 7.4 million return journeys a year is pie in the sky.

2
0
Go

Re: Good luck

James, I think you would find that the 7,4 million passengers was the passengers expected in the first year, they would expect ever increasing numbers of passengers each year, hence how they can get to their US$6 billion.

However, coming from the aerospace industry I can tell you that the majority of costs dont come from actually designing and building the aircraft. The costs come from testing, certifying and qualifying everything so that you get the certification to fly the damn thing. OK the costs for the rail and road industries along this line are much lower, but can you really expect this system to get away with road levels of qualification? I certainly dont. US$6 billion seems a ridicuosly low value to me, double it and I might begin to think its maybe possible if you dont nind cutting some corners, but I would be shocked beyond belief if it can be made for under US$20 billion..

0
0
Silver badge

Re: shocked beyond belief if it can be made for under US$20 billion..

Even at $20 billion, that's still about half the proposed price of the high speed rail, which is also almost certainly low. So as a replacement it seems desirable.

Also, despite the relatively high price for a commuter trip, the 35 minutes puts it inside what 'Merkins in big cities have come to expect time wise, so it might be used that way.

If you throw in some freight traffic, I think you might be able to get to a commercially viable system. Only actual use would tell.

2
0

Re: Good luck

Even if it rocketed up to US$20bn, that's still a lot less than the $68bn or so they're thinking of pumping into a 'highspeed' (i.e. Intercity125 speeds) conventional train line, which would cost more to ride on and take longer. True, it can take a lot more cargo.

This is a project that really needs to be done. There will be naysayers, but there always is with new things (think, the first car, the first plane, etc).

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Good luck

@Iglethal - I couldn't tell whether $6bn is too low an estimate, but 1/10th of cost of HSR does seem suspiciously low.

"they would expect ever increasing numbers of passengers each year, hence how they can get to their US$6 billion.". Agreed, but as I pointed out there's a hard limit of 14mln operating at full capacity 24/7/365. More realistically given scheduled maintenance pluy unscheduled hiccups during the year is maybe 10mln a year. Of course as I point out in another post comparing cost to air/train/car, they can put the price at $50 with a cheap night fare at $20-30. With an average pricing closer to $35-40 they could make a lot more than $6bln in 20 years

0
0
Gold badge

Eh, I'd use it. Almost certainly safer than driving.

9
0
Silver badge

And that's especially true here in California where folks regularly dart across 5 lanes of traffic at a roughly 45 degree angle to the roadway because they just realized their exit is only a quarter mile up the road. Of course it doesn't help with the highway planners putting half the entrance ramps on the far side of the freeway because they couldn't fit another ramp on the usual side.

That said, I'd be happy to use it and see my niece on the north end of this electric semi-suck tube on the occasional weekend.

2
0
Gold badge

It's not just the exits, it's the fact that Californians don't understand the delicate art of signage. Such as placing your signs a decent ways before the turn. And perhaps indicating what side of the freeway it's on. Bloody 101 is a death trap...

5
0
Silver badge

"It's not just the exits, it's the fact that Californians don't understand the delicate art of signage"

Much like Nevada, Utah and France in my experience...

0
0
Silver badge

I can add Scotland and the Czech Republic to that list. Without satnav or a competent navigator, getting to somewhere you don't know in either of these places is ... interesting.

However, on topic, and probably mentioned further down (and if so, apologies), I'm not sure I'd want to be travelling 700+mph on something supported above ground that tends to move as much as it does in California ...

1
1
Silver badge

Granted it's been a while since I've been to Cali and I never drove there

but given your description I'd have to say they are doing better than Maryland. At least they used 5+ lanes to make it that dangerous. Maryland does it with only two.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Tell me please

These word you used, signage and later signs, are they like what the fortune teller sees when playing with those funny cards?

-- Average Californian

0
0
Linux

Could get messy!

The biggest drawback to any ground based rail is cars at intersections with rail. Cars and trains famously do not get along well, or any thing else in their path. Plus, with rail you have to surrender the real estate, which costs a fortune before you even start to lay track. Monorails, or this tube proposal, makes much more sense. Building the tube shouldn't be a major effort when we already have plenty of experience building them for the oil industry. You might need some sort of pressure washing system in place for when the strawberry jam happens with capsules of humans rocketing along at 700mph collide with something. Could get messy.

0
0

Yeah, good luck.

The sad fact is that the United States is no longer capable of even building a high-speed rail system, which has existing in other parts of the world for nearly fifty years now. It's not that people in California haven't been trying, either. There have been various plans for high-speed travel between S.F. and L.A. since the 1940s. The history is both entertaining and sobering.

Hyperloop is like saying you want to build a supercomputer when you can't even design a mobo with standard components.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Yeah, good luck.

There are tremendous difficulties in building a Californian high speed rail link.

Even with the costs of modifying SUVs to run on rails - how are people supposed to overtake ?

11
0

Re: Yeah, good luck.

If this is technologically viable, the Chinese will have one working before anyone else. They have the ability and the will to mobilise "whatever it takes" to do just about anything.

And they're not too fussed about whether it is economically or ecologically viable - as long as it would be seen as "world-class". E.g. consider the Shanghai MagLev train from the airport to down-town - 30 km in 8 minutes, running every 15 minutes, with a top speed of 430 km/hr. I can't for one moment imagine that it is remotely economically viable - but it is undeniably cool!

11
0

Re: Yeah, good luck.

Seconded.

Fact is, I'm tempted to arrange a Shanghai stopover just to give it a whirl... just back from two weeks riding Shinkansen in Japan and ready to take things to the next level.

They have a prototype maglev in Japan - the Chuo Shinkansen - which runs up to 550kph. The first section of the line completed has been used as a test track and is being opened to paying passengers as a funride this year, apparently; the full line between Tokyo and Nagoya won't open until 2027. So it's back to Japan for me later this year :-)

Mike

6
0

Re: Yeah, good luck.

Good point.

To actually build this proposal (which Musk is apparently "above" doing himself), the issue is neither a matter of engineering nor finance. It's a question of national will. Asia and Europe have already expressed this will. There is no real debate around HSR, except in the U.S.

Fundamentally, Americans have not decided whether they really want HSR or not. Of course, many people really do want it, but they get shouted down by an equally large contingent that doesn't want to spend any money on "socialist" projects like public transport.

Getting them out of their cars is like getting them to give up their guns — they just won't do it.

The rest of the world doesn't have these kinds of "collective identity" issues. If Hyperloop is in fact technologically and economically viable, then it'll be built elsewhere. Not in the US.

16
1

Re: Yeah, good luck.

I'd like to try that test track fun-ride this year. Do you know where to buy tickets?

0
0
Thumb Up

Re: Yeah, good luck.

The Shanghai MagLev train is indeed cool, and wondrously easy to use as a transfer into the city. Use it before it falls over due to shoddy construction techniques - IIRC, there have been a few articles in recent years on the concrete supports not being of the highest build quality.

Apparently they've also extended the metro out to the airport, too, which is a goodly amount cheaper to use (10RMB/£1 rather than 50RMB/£5). The ticket machines can also operate in English, so also rather easy to use (provided you know where you're going).

Either way is a lot more relaxing than the roller-coaster ride of the local taxi drivers. Beware landing around 11pm at Pudong, it's end of shift time and some of the drivers struggle to stay awake while driving....

0
0
Happy

Re: Yeah, good luck.

I rode it last year. IIRC it did 450kph (there's a digital speed display inside) and what surprised me most : it was dam noisy, it rattled like an old style tube train! It didn't seem that fast from the inside, until the other train passes at the hallway point : blink and you'll miss it.

0
0

Re: Yeah, good luck.

no debate about HSR in Europe? come again? There is a huge debate about HSR at the moment in both the Netherlands and Belgium.

A HSR line was built between the two mentioned countries, it went way over budget, schedule etc etc. When it was finaly completed, the italian built trains turned out to be total failures. they are so bad they are banned in Belgium.

In the end we have a HSR that is unfit for purpose and a dozen or so trains, that you wouldt even house pigs in, standing still and going nowhere ever. the HSR is a write of before even being really used, its a miracle that no one got killed.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah, good luck.

Are there millions of Europeans arguing against existence of the French TGV, the Eurostar, Thalys, or the German ICE?

I don't see that, but I do see millions of Americans arguing against HSR.

It seems the problem with the project you describe is in its implementation, not whether it should exist in the first place. That's the situation in the US.

In any case, what were they thinking, buying the rolling stock from Italy?

4
1

Re: Yeah, good luck.

The Chinese might have bought it, but the Shanghai MagLev is German.

0
0
Facepalm

Re: Yeah, good luck.

And a little closer to home... HS2 anyone?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah, good luck.

> There is no real debate around HSR, except in the U.S.

And Gloucestershire, apparently.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Yeah, good luck.

I rode it last year. IIRC it did 450kph (there's a digital speed display inside) and what surprised me most : it was dam noisy, it rattled like an old style tube train! It didn't seem that fast from the inside, until the other train passes at the hallway point : blink and you'll miss it.

I didn't like the sections where the maglev banked quite viciously to the right. There is something disconcerting travelling above 400 kph, at an angle, looking down at the dismantled shanty town below.

Well worth a ride though. I wouldn't go to Shanghai just to ride the maglev, but if you are in the area it is a damn good experience. Interestingly, maglev is too expensive for China, I don't think they intend to build more maglev lines.

0
0

Re: they are called airplanes

To every American whining about why we don't have a high speed rail system, we have airplanes. They are faster. At any one moment in time about 60,000 Americans are in the air over the US. It is faster to fly long distances and cheaper to drive shorter ones.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: not whether it should exist in the first place.

As usual you misscharacterize your fellow Americans. Our objections aren't against its existential potential, they are about the logical fallacies of the HSR proponents. The proposed train will only get you between specific cities. You'll still need a car. If Musk can make it commercially viable, I don't have a problem with that. If it costs twice as much to build and only develops a quarter of the traffic he foresees and depends on the public dole, I have huge problems with that. The car still gets me there if slower, on already existing infrastructure that will be more readily and frequently used. The problem with conventional HSR is that given the historical track record of passenger rail, it wouldn't even make the failure numbers I've assigned to the Musk project. So they are IMPLEMENTATION objections, not existential.

Full disclosure: You damn fools have funded one of these boondoggles that I take to work everyday. Since I'm paying for it anyway I use it. Doesn't mean I can't see the problems with it or what better solutions might be out there.

1
0
Bronze badge
FAIL

Re: Yeah, good luck.

What kind of loony buys Italian trains for HSR?

Buy TGV's (or, even better AGV's).

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Yeah, good luck.

"Getting them out of their cars is like getting them to give up their guns — they just won't do it."

So build the slightly larger one which takes 3 cars and passengers.

The most annoying thing about public transport (or flying) is having to arrange wheels at the other end anwyay.

Make it large enough to hold 18-wheelers and you have a ready market, freighters and truckers will happily piggyback if it's cheaper and faster.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Yeah, good luck.

What kind of loony buys Italian trains? - there, I fixed it for you.

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums