Technology is changing lightning-fast, and travel is one industry that many people are desperate to see evolve from the inconvenient and often uncomfortable experience it so often is right now.
Enter hyper-fast trains, which promise to revolutionize train travel, potentially making it faster than going to the airport and getting on a plane.
The first high-speed rail line was created in Japan, between Osaka and Tokyo, just in time for the 1964 Olympics. These ‘bullet trains’ can now travel at speeds of up to 185 miles per hour, crossing more than 1,500 miles of rail lines throughout Japan.
In Italy, Europe’s first high-speed line was created between Florence and Rome in 1978, with high-speed trains now racing through France, Britain, Belgium, Germany, and Spain at speeds of more than 150 miles an hour. This makes Amtrak lines feel like a monorail.
In China, high-speed rail is a given, with trains hitting 217 miles per hour along the route between Tianjin and Beijing which was built for the 2008 Olympics. The country has also had magnetic levitation trains reaching speeds of 268 miles per hour between Shanghai and the airport.
In the United States, the fastest trains have gone just 90 miles per hour on average. However, this may not be the case in the future.
The Future of Hyper-Fast Trains
Right now, Japan is planning a floating train (magnetically-powered) that will travel up to 100mph faster than the bullet trains already allowing incredibly fast commuting in the country. This train will run between Osaka and Tokyo, costing $64 billion and should be completed by 2045.
In the United States, Elon Musk is taking this a step further, with his proposed Hyperloop– a futuristic train that would go twice as fast as an airplane, be immune to weather, run completely on solar power, never crash, and be four times as fast as current bullet trains.
Sound too good to be true? There’s no reason that this train can’t become reality, as long as it gets the financial and political backing necessary.
The proposed hyperloop would allow us to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco for 35 minutes and just $20. This is a game-changer for commuters, travelers, and anyone hoping to avoid airports, save time, and cut down on their carbon.
How does it work? Imagine the way an air hockey table works. The hyperloop uses low-pressure tubes elevated off the ground, sending capsules down the tubes at high speed. Just like in air hockey, those capsules use a cushion of air for support, and one two-tube train could transport 15 million people every year.
Will it become a reality? Musk’s Boring Company will be digging a hyperloop tunnel for travel between New York City and Washinton D.C in just half an hour. Right now, Amtrak trains take almost three hours for this journey. But Musk isn’t the only one in the game. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Virgin Hyperloop One are also developing routes in Europe, Asia, and North America.
In fact, Hyperloop One is already leading a project that would transport people between Abu Dhabi and Dubai in just twelve minutes- something that currently takes approximately two hours.
Train travel has long been part of TV shows and movies. We have a fascination and respect for this humble form of travel.
Hyper-fast trains have also gradually been becoming a staple in popular culture. Almost any futuristic movie has featured some form of high-speed and/or magnetic train- from the high-speed train scene in Mission Impossible to Snowpiercer. But with the right vision and enough funding, we may one day actually be riding hyper-fast trains across the country and around the world.