back to article Korean boffins vow 1,000km-an-hour supertrain

Korean boffins want to create the blueprint for a train capable of operating at 1,000km/h (621mph). Like Elon Musk’s back of the envelope Hyperloop concept, the Korea Railroad Research Institute (KRRI) project envisages the vehicles running inside a partial vacuum or low pressure tube. The KRRI joined the project this week, …

  1. Jeroen Braamhaar

    The Koreans once claimed their KTX high speed train (which they bought from France) wouldn't derail in an earthquake like the Japanese Shinkansen.

    The Japanese pointed out it takes an earthquake to derail a shinkansen.

    For the KTX it just requires a curve. :)

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      And even then I think it's only happened once, and that was basically because the quake happened so close to where the train happened to be at the time that there wasn't enough time to slow the train down.

      I saw a programme about it not to long ago, which went into quite some detail about the detection and prevention measures that they took for the system, which are both extensive and impressive.

  2. Your alien overlord - fear me

    I wonder if Samsung will 'donate' to this or aren't any presidential cronies involved?

  3. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

    I can foresee two problems;

    1) In the USA every loony with a gun will be perforating the tube.

    2) When the pods get stuck due to either 1) or other malfunction the passengers will roast to death in the hot sunshine.

    Thinks; Maybe always travel at night.

    1. MR J

      They have probably thought about cooling the thing a lot more than you can imagine. If it's inside a vac sealed system then regular A/C will not work so I am sure there must be some fancy way of keeping things cool. And the tubes themselves will probably be coated in things to make the sunshine not that much of an issue.

      I do agree that we are not that likely to see this in much of the US because of... yea, the US...

      If it's not crazy people shooting it, or other crazy people shining lasers at it, then it will be someone like greyhound lobbying to stop this job killing environmental damaging kick in the teeth to regular Americans train!

      South Korea has a good record of setting a goal and pushing it out, I can see them doing it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, and how would Jack Reacher get around either? Travel on the Hyperloop will almost certainly require some form of ID check. How will America's best loved vigilante retain his anonymity and range of operations if Greyhound buses are no more?

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "And the tubes themselves will probably be coated in things to make the sunshine not that much of an issue."

        There's a really low tech solution for that - a sunshade. And it doesn't matter if it has holes in it.

        Double skinning isn't particularly difficult to do.

  4. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Tubes are cheating

    If they want real commercial success they should develop something that does 1000km/h on existing track. First run from Stockton to Darligton? Then I'd like to see it do the Cambrian Coast line, and maybe Settle-Carlisle across the viaduct. That would be a sight to see!

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Tubes are cheating

      Viaducts, pah! I want to see it doing wall-of-death vertically banked turns at 1000kmh.

      1. PNGuinn Silver badge

        Re: Tubes are cheating

        You can't have your flying train until I get my bloody flying car!

      2. Michael Thibault

        Re: Tubes are cheating

        There'd definitely be indications of a problem in personnel if any route requires a directional change sharp enough, and sustained enough, to make possible a vertically-banked wall-of-death turn. Fortunately, any such system would be automated, if it were possible or necessary; I suspect that the Gs thrown would knock out everyone on the train but the fittest.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Tubes are cheating

          "I suspect that the Gs thrown would knock out everyone on the train but the fittest."

          Up to 4G sustained for 30 seconds won't hurt most people (but it's hard to lift your arms). Most people won't notice 2G after a few seconds.

          Apparent cabin gravity is always floorwards. These systems won't be accelerating/decelerating at more than 0.1G unless it's an emergency.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Tubes are cheating

      1000km/h on existing track

      They started a daily SunRail commuter service here in Orlando a couple years back. It's about the only passenger rail service in Florida, other than the Amtrak that goes to DC every weekend.

      The top speed limit for the train is about 25mph, yet I see a story in the paper about every third day about some 'tard in an SUV that got hit by the train.

      "But I thought it would stooooopppppp!" and thus they get a lesson in the physics of a massive object.

      It's not the technology, it's the retards it has to deal with.

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: Tubes are cheating


        He needed Jenny Agutter and her knickers!

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: Tubes are cheating

          I'm sure it was a petticoat, but either way I'll be needing a cold shower now.

    3. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Tubes are cheating

      "1000km/h on existing track.. maybe Settle-Carlisle across the viaduct.That would be a sight to see!"

      The Ribblehead Viaduct is 440yards (1/4 mile) long, so that would be a sight to see for all of about 1 second.

  5. ratfox Silver badge


    There has been no shortage of maglev-in-vacuum projects. So far, none have been even close to being built. The speed increase over a normal train is only worth it over long distances, so the initial investment is huge. And then, the advantages are small over a plane.

    I predict that the very first to be actually built will be a white elephant bleeding money.

    1. MR J

      Re: Sigh

      Most of these things do tend to be white elephants, most emerging tech has started that way hasn't it?.

      I personally cant see it ever becoming mainstream until the cost of maglev construction comes down, no doubt that the vac chamber (how much of a vac does it need?) will be complicated and expensive to build, but other than it breaking or seals needing replacing then I cant see maintenance being THAT expensive.

      My guess is that once Maglev becomes common, then vac maglev will follow, but not until Maglev becomes common.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Sigh

        (how much of a vac does it need?)

        Well, a couple of centuries back (1870s), a demonstator was built proving that as long as the air pressure was lower in the front than the back, no other propulsion needed. so not much vacuum.

        1. Jim84

          Re: Sigh

          Yes but according to Scientific American pneumatic tube transport over any great distance would require an enormous amount of energy.

          "Nor should the tube be normal pressure either, like the pneumatic mail tubes of yesteryear, given that pushing all that air around would entail too much energy when expanded over hundreds of kilometers, not to mention an absurd amount of friction on the tube walls."

          Unless you can build a completely leak proof tube, a partial vacuum tube seems like a bad idea. Any significant amount of air getting into a part of the tube could cause the pod the crash.

          Regular Maglev is expensive because the clearance between the magnets and track is so small. Which means the track has to be almost perfectly flat, which is expensive to achieve. There is a bit of hope though as halbach array maglev has much greater clearances, and perhaps cheaper track.

          The company SkyTran is pushing maglev pods as an intra-city PRT solution, but they actually look much better as a low cost inter-city train replacement (they can go fast on straights, but cannot go around tight corners). Japan's super expensive superconducting track maglev trains can already hit 600kph. I don't know if these pods could go anywhere near that fast though.

          2 to 4 person pods would be much superior to trains as you could leave whenever you wanted.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Sigh

      "The speed increase over a normal train is only worth it over long distances, so the initial investment is huge. And then, the advantages are small over a plane."

      "long" distances being more than about 50 miles (80km) and mainly because of the issue of loading/unloading. The sub-pod concept might make it more viable for commuting.

      There's a _huge_ advantage over aircraft - being firmly ground-based means you can supply it with energy without having to carry several tens of tons of carbon-emitting fuel and the equivalent energy cost per passenger will be substantially lower than aircraft. (Operational vs infrastructure costs of course, but the terrestrial system will win out long term). That means solar and/or nuclear power can be used to drive the tube system.

      The biggest impediment I can think of is that in order to be commercially viable, the system must be able to carry cargo - and preferably without repacking it repeatedly. The economics of packing wagons was what made railways marginal and containerisation solved that problem. Recreating it is a non-starter. (Ie, the pods need to be large enough to take shipping containers)

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Sigh

        Offset by the fact terra firma ain't exactly flat. Working across rivers over mountains and valleys, etc. Make for infrastructure issues for both track and power, especially for trains that have limits to the amount of turning and tilting they can take at a time.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Sigh

      Logical conclusion: HyperLoop should team up with Dyson.

      The only HyperLoop line I see making any money would be a Los Angels - Las Vegas shuttle.

  6. batfastad

    HS2 != Maglev

    I'll get excited about high-speed rail in this country once there's a project targeting European speed and ticket cost - instead of 70% European speeds and 300% ticket cost.

  7. hatti

    Should stick with the steam option, it's worked before.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge


      Pah. What we need is a monorail.

      1. Blank Reg

        Re: Steam?

      2. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Steam?

        Why not have steam and a monorail?

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: Steam?

          It put Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook on the map.

  8. earl grey Silver badge

    it'll never happen

    The tube is too expensive

    The train is too expensive

    The route is too expensive

    They'll have to stop every 300 metres in every town to pick up passengers

    They'll have to avoid environmentally sensitive areas

    They can's use fossil fuel and water and air

    They have to give a hoot and not pollute

    They can' t build in my back yard (NIMBY)

    The tickets will be too expensive

    There won't be enough passengers

    Now GTFO and off my lawn!

  9. FozzyBear Silver badge


    I'd be happy with a train service here in Sydney that is relatively cheap and reliable. At least once a week I'm stranded on a platform because the intercity service has been cancelled due to mechanical fault. But that what you get with a hundred year old system.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Me

      Aren't you folks still using the Intercity 125?

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Me

        They only have a few and they are not THAT old!

        1. EnviableOne Bronze badge

          Re: Me

          Most of the intercity trains in service are 125 (mph) the ECML uses 225s (kmph) (LCX to Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow) yeah 189 mph is all we got on the UK rail network

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Me

            Where/what is LCX? An airport?

  10. sitta_europea

    I think he meant London Kings Cross, not Longyan Guanzhishan Airport.

    Of course he might have meant LCY (London City), but the East Coast Main Line doesn't go there (it's the Docklands Light Railway).

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