Billionaire Elon Musk has announced his intention of backing 'Hyperloop' train technology which could see passengers transported in carriages at up to 4,000mph through huge vacuum tubes. This would see brits wanting to holiday in Dubai reaching their destination in just 50 minutes from London.
Musk, who founded PayPal and currently sits at the helm of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, sees this technology as the best solution for high-speed continental rail travel, as well as eventually inter-continental travel. The serial entrepreneur described the technology as, "a cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table", at a conference earlier this year, describing the system's combination of magnetic levitation used by current bullet trains with vacuum tubes and electric motor acceleration.
By travelling in a vacuum tube, friction and wind resistance are no longer limiting factors on train speed, and mag-lev rails also eliminate friction as there is no contact with guiding rails. The idea of this type of vacuum-train has been around since the start of the 20th century, but only now is one company working on developing a functional prototype. ET3 in Colorado, USA, has been developing its Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) system for some time, describing it as, "space travel on earth."
Although the level of Musk's involvement in the development of the technology remains unclear, given his track-record with spectacular successes in web technology, electric car development and commercial space travel, any level of support he gives could provide a huge boost to the futuristic transport system. According to his Twitter account, Musk is looking to "work with the right partners" on the project, in order to achieve "breakthrough tech done fast and w/o wasting money..."
Image sources: ET3 / Wikimedia