A Chinese company sparked both skepticism and concern earlier this week after announcing plans to develop an ultra-fast “flying train” with a maximum speed of 4,000 km/h.
The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) said at a conference in Wuhan on Wednesday that it plans to reach this incredible speed gradually by developing futuristic technology which combines parts of supersonic aircraft and high-speed rail into a system not unlike the “hyperloop” proposed by Elon Musk earlier this decade in which superconducting maglev capsules would fly at ultrafast speeds down reduced-pressure tubes.
Still, for Hyperloop, “ultrafast speeds” means only 1,200 km/h.
While some may worry about the dangers of traveling at more than three times the speed of sound, Mao Kai, the chief engineer of the project, says that it’s really nothing to worry about, explaining that the acceleration speed of the “flying trains” would be slower than that of a plane taking off, so passengers would have no need for concern.
However, Zhao Jian, a professor at Beijing Transport University, is a bit worried, telling the South China Morning Post that the human body could only withstand accleration to speeds of 4,000 km/h for a very short period of time. “In that case, are the passengers going to be astronauts only?” he joked.
Meanwhile, SCMP also cites a Weibo user from Beijing asking Chinese engineers to focus on more practical problems first. “Can the government please invent technology to solve traffic jams first? It takes me an hour to drive from the fifth to the third ring road,” the netizen wrote.
Here at Shanghaiist, we look forward to a day when all intercity travel will be made on “flying trains,” and all intracity travel made on “straddling buses.”
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