Researchers at Southern Jiaotong University have announced that they’ve successfully developed a model of a vacuum magnetic suspension train that could travel at speeds of up to 1,200kmp, and could be put into operation within 10 years. To put that in perspective, a normal commercial airplane travels at around 500kph, so we’re talking jet speeds here. Subsequently, they’ve also announced that it’s most likely prohibitively expensive, and according to one expert, doesn’t even operate within the realm of reality.
“Developing a vacuum Maglev train is a complete scientific fantasy. It is impossible to develop a vacuum Maglev train at a speed of 20,000 kilometers per hour technically and economically,” Wang told the Global Times, adding that it was very dangerous for people to take a train in a vacuum state at an average speed of more than 350 kilometers per hour.
That was Beijing Jiaotong University professor Wang Mengshu talking with Global Times.
Others are not so skeptical. The guy who owns the US patent for the evacuated tube technology now works for the Chinese Academy of Engineering. They’ve been working on the project since 2002.
Vacuum tube trains could theoretically travel at speeds of up to 20,000kph, and operate by utilizing the lack of air resistance within a vacuum. They use one tenth the fuel of airplanes and make absolutely no noise!
If these trains really were built (which even their inventors say is unlikely), the ride from Beijing to Guangzhou would be two hours, one hour less than the flight. Estimated costs for construction are as much as $40 million per kilometer, and if research proceeds on schedule could theoretically be in use by 2030, according to Shanghai science magazine Science Pectorial.
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