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Discussion > Hyperloopy, or just plain mad?

Telegraph: London to Edinburgh in 50 minutes: Sir Richard Branson to build 'revolutionary' Hyperloop train
"Hyperloop, the brainchild of Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, involves pods being propelled through a near-vacuum at speeds of up to 700mph. Musk has proposed the system as a new form of high-speed travel that could cut the time between cities from hours to minutes."

The 'magnetic levitation technology' is in existence, but 'high-speed magnetic levitation technology' is pushing the boundaries, which will be a big risk, especially when the whole mega-project is so dependent on it.

There is also the problem of making it reliable and low maintenance ... and safe ... and CARBON NEUTRAL! :)

However, these are not my biggest concerns. In addition to the cost to the non-traveling taxpayers :) , there is the path the track will take and the need for the lower air pressure required inside the tube to consider.
1. As the passengers will be traveling at up to 700 mph, the track will have to be even 'straighter' than the proposed HS2 track.
2. As the air will be at a lower pressure inside the tube, there will need to be air locks wherever the passengers enter of leave the train - to get out of the tube!
3. It is likely that the tracks will have no branches because of technical difficulties, so tracks from London to Birmingham and London to Edinburgh would need their own track from London to Birmingham. This would add to the cost.
4. To travel from London to Edinburgh will require ONE tube, for a non-stop service, so how will that be kept at a reduced air pressure? That is a large volume with many opportunities for the air to escape.

"During its most recent phase of testing, Hyperloop One reached 192mph over a route of just under 450 metres. It has proposed routes across the US and a route that will carry passengers from London to Edinburgh in 50 minutes."

5. They will be using windmill power (and solar ? ) and batteries to drive the motors, as that will be all they would have by the time this gets built. Good luck with that!

6.Why hasn't the paper not pickup on all these points? Probably because the 'journalists' writing this rubbish don't have an O'level in Physics between them! Either that, or they are not allowed to question any marketing material.

7. Will anyone, from 'Fleet Street', Westminster, Whitehall or even one of our 'centres of academic excellence' ('universities'?) raise any one of these issues and inform the public of the technical and environmental issues to be solved. Maybe there isn't anyone!

Oct 13, 2017 at 10:42 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Reminds me of objections to the original railways and of what travelling fast would do to the human body.

Oct 13, 2017 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

An interesting concept. “All” that is required is a hermetically-sealed tube, with air-locks at each station for the hermetically-sealed passenger capsules, both for arrival and departure. London to Edinburgh is 530 kilometres; the tube would be, say, 5 metres in diameter, thus you would need pumps to evacuate some 10 million cubic metres of air, and to keep the tube in the partial vacuum postulated. Would it be above ground, or below? (Below makes more sense, from the cosmetic point of view – who would want a 15-foot high tube running through their neighbourhood? – and the more pragmatic view of surface access across the route.)

Two tubes would be preferred, one up, the other down, so keeping a constant flow of income-generating traffic. Then you have to address the issue for access for maintenance or in a case of emergency, a point that was never required for the railways (sorry, Minty, but the “scientists” of the day, warning of the air getting sucked out of the carriages at speeds in excess of 30 mph, suffocating all the occupants, are more like the climate “scientists” of today, and their scare-mongering about CO2 and fossil fuels, than the real engineers that actually made it happen. It makes it even more ironic that, if there is a leak in the passenger capsule of this proposed system, then the air really will be sucked out, and the passengers asphyxiated).

Nope; all in all, a dead duck.

Oct 13, 2017 at 12:01 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Nope; all in all, a dead duck.

Oct 13, 2017 at 12:01 PM | Radical Rodent

Yes, but think of the billions of taxpayer funding that Musk could get, to find out it was a dead duck.

Anyway, I thought the EU had limited the wattage of vacuum cleaners.

Oct 13, 2017 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

You all clearly believe this duck is still sitting but will soon die. The straightness of the tube may well require the return of the Romans.

Whatever happened to the related scheme involving travel down a tube in which the vehicle was sucked along by evacuating the tube ahead and allowing air pressure behind to drive it along? Travel took place through multiple segments of the tube.

Oct 13, 2017 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

Like much Musk sells - it's not new, it won't be cheap and is marketed to credulous feckwits preferably those with other people's money to burn.

As far as I can see SpaceX is the only thing that stands on its own as a viable enterprise - but even then - SpaceX was only a vehicle to get out from under the bloated, constipated bureaucrat infested NASA and focus on delivering stuff...

Elon's series of BS PR projects is beginning to look a bit thin and I reckon the boy is looking rather careworn / harassed and wore-out at the moment - the Model 3 rabbit better get pulled out of the hat real soon .... otherwise the mainstream automakers will bury Tesla.

Branson is increasingly looking like a tainted brand lamely trying to grab a slice of limelight, any limelight....

Oct 13, 2017 at 2:47 PM | Registered Commentertomo

True, Golf Charlie (BTW, are you in any way related to Right and Proper, both of whom seem to pop up rather too often?). It should be noted that Elon Musk, though a very rich person, has not made a penny in profit – ALL his wealth has come from subsidies. Maybe this is the new form of entrepreneurship.

Sorry again, Minty, but this duck is already well and truly dead; it is as dead as a Norwegian Blue parrot. If it wasn’t nailed to a charismatic(?), self-promoting charlatan, snake-oil salesman, it would be pushing up daisies. Oh… and your version of wind-power should join it in the graveyard of not-so-great ideas; while it might have worked in the offices of the 1930s, pushing receipts and memos through the building, it no longer exists, so should be treated with the same reverence that all old ideas have – good at the time, but now superseded (for a start, the speeds involved are not likely to be… well… let’s just say, “impressive…”).

Oct 13, 2017 at 3:07 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Not my version of tube travel Ravishing Rattie, I only just half remembered it. If my remaining brain cells are still functioning then the scheme would also have employed mag-lev, so with no forward wind resistance, speeds might well have been quite impressive. I can picture the advertising for Scottish bound trains - Edinburgh sucks!
I had forgotten the mechanism for sending money, receipts and the like around big stores - my local Coop had it (it fascinated me as a small boy) as did Foyles in Charing Cross Road, certainly well into the 1960s.

Oct 13, 2017 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

I can picture the advertising for Scottish bound trains - Edinburgh sucks!
Actually, that is quite funny! There could be hope for you, yet!

With maglev, the “levitation” also provides the motive power, so no air movement is required, except for removal of air from the sealed tube. I wonder if there would be any constraints of weight balance in the capsule; would passengers be required to sit tight, strapped in, or could they wander about?

Oct 13, 2017 at 5:02 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

The SNP may demand some form of air purification system before allowing toxic London gas emissions to contaminate the purity of Edinburgh air, whereas Scots not sympathetic to the SNP may regard it as an escape tunnel.

Pnuematic tubes are still used in supermarkets, hospitals etc.

Dead ducks are deliberately sucked in to jet engines, to find out what happens if flying ducks are accidently inhaled. Extensive testing has confirmed it is not the best recipe for shredded Crispy Peking Duck.

Oct 13, 2017 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Rules about Magic Solutions
#1 If it's so easy/profitable why isn't it already being done ?
#2 Where's the little prototype ?
#3 Is it failsafe ?

Why do they always talk as if things are for normal people ?
Surely the main purpose would be to move freight
..passenger railways rarely make money.

Prototype doesnt have a vacuum so doesn't achieve super fast speed's just maglev in a tube.
You could probably knock one up yourself.
He's promising you 700mph and actually giving you something like a normal train
So Why not fly ?

Oct 13, 2017 at 10:06 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

So Why not fly ?

Oct 13, 2017 at 10:06 PM | stewgreen

It would save bulldozing homes, fields and woodland like HS2.

Oct 13, 2017 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Oct 13, 2017 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I assume that the hyperloop thing would be electric powered unlike a plane so would be 100% powered by solar panels and windmills...

Oct 14, 2017 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

The 'motor' system seems extremely expensive!

Stator winding throughout the length of the tube.

That's a lot of copper on a London to Edinburgh route...

Oct 14, 2017 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Richards

Seal (no, not that kind!) unreliability killed it IIRC.
Brunel found that the greased leather seals were eaten by rats so a consistent vacuum could not be maintained.
Nowt new under t'sun etc

Oct 14, 2017 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered Commentercolin smith

Ah, that didn't go well. Was in response to Supertroll's 1:35 post
Is there a how to on blockquoting?

Oct 14, 2017 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered Commentercolin smith

Colin Smith - yep. It's easy (hey! Even I can do it!) For purposes of illustration, the "<" and ">" symbols will be replaced by "(" and ")" respectively: using lower case only, precede the quote with (blockquote) and finish with (/blockquote). A new paragraph is automatically created at the end of the blockquote, so just... keep danc.. typing!

Oct 14, 2017 at 3:34 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Colin Smith - yep. It's easy (hey! Even I can do it!) For purposes of illustration, the "<" and ">" symbols will be replaced by "(" and ")" respectively: using lower case only, precede the quote with (blockquote) and finish with (/blockquote). A new paragraph is automatically created at the end of the blockquote, so just... keep danc.. typing!

Like that, yes, and thanks!
I tried before using the syntax from the "some HTML allowed" hints that appear below the post box.

Oct 15, 2017 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered Commentercolin smith

One step at a time :) : do we have any serious 'magnetic levitation technology' in Britain used to transport anything, any distance, at any speed?

I wasn't thinking of firing bullets or shells from a gun. I was hoping for something a little more sedate that could provide some relevant experience in the technology that would be needed for the project under discussion.

Oct 16, 2017 at 3:39 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Robert. I recall many years ago (1970s?) travelling on a maglev train in Disney's tomorrowland in California, but I realize that wasn't Britain.

Oct 16, 2017 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

Wikki reports "The world's first commercial maglev system was a low-speed maglev shuttle that ran between the airport terminal of Birmingham International Airport and the nearby Birmingham International railway station between 1984 and 1995.

Oct 16, 2017 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

My old uni Professor, Eric Laithwaite, had bench working models of maglev back in the 60s. As I recall the static part was only an aluminium plate, the solenoids were on the train. But I didn't finish the course and Laithwaite went a bit loopy over gyroscopes.

Oct 16, 2017 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Oct 16, 2017 at 4:02 PM | Supertroll

Did it cease operating commercially, because it was not very commercial in operation?

Oct 16, 2017 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Rhoda, an interesting man, with a lot of interest in science?

Oct 16, 2017 at 10:55 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Oct 16, 2017 at 4:02 PM by Supertroll
"The world's first commercial maglev system was a low-speed maglev shuttle that ran between the airport terminal of Birmingham International Airport and the nearby Birmingham International railway station between 1984 and 1995."

Was that the one journey? :)

As penance for that jest, I have dug up some reports about the sorry saga:

Birmingham (UK) Airport Maglev Train 1984 - 1995 RIP
(10 min video: the (not very) interesting bit is at 1:50)

RailWorld: In 1984, the World's first commercial MagLev guided transit system was officially opened by HM The Queen, at Birmingham International Airport.
The system operated between Birmingham's International Railway Station and Airport across a 625m track, until 1995 when the system was closed.

BBC: The magnetic attraction of trains
The Maglev shuttle between Birmingham International Airport and the nearby railway terminal was abandoned in 1995 because it was unreliable.

BirminghamMail: New plan aims to bring the Maglev back [Note who is proposing it, and where!]
"A TROUBLED transport system which caused misery for thousands of Midland holidaymakers could bring "huge benefits" if it was introduced across the country, according to a leading Tory.

The unreliable Maglev system was removed from Birmingham International Airport in 2001 because it was plagued by breakdowns, but Shadow Chancellor George Osbourne has now claimed that building Maglev lines between British cities would boost the country's transport system."

Well .......... what is there to say about it? :(

Oct 17, 2017 at 12:42 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher