Published on March 23rd, 2011 | by Christopher DeMorro
The 1,000 MPH Trans-Continental Jet Train That Never Was
Obama has dreams of a high speed rail network connecting the U.S. 35 years from now. But these dreams date back to before Obama was born. How does a 1,000 mph jet train from New York to Los Angeles sound?
A jet train you say? Why yes, why not. This design, by Doug Roulfe, comes from 1948, which was the very beginning of the jet age when designers were ready to strap turbines to just about everything, from cars to planes to trains. The design was based in part around a rocket sled designed to help rocket engineers crack the sound barrier. The idea was to strap five solid-fuel rockets to a train, and basically launch it from New York City to Los Angeles. The trip could be completed in three hours at those speeds, meaning you’d arrive in Los Angeles at the same time you departed New York City. Craziness, right?
Alas this trans-continental rocket train never came to be, though we got a brief taste of what we might have been in for. In the 1960’s, both America and the Soviet Union built prototype jet trains that were eventually surpassed by Japanese and European bullet trains. New York Central added two General Electric J-147-19 turbojet engines to the front of a Rail Diesel Car and eventually went to a top speed of 184 mph. The Reds, meanwhile, also added two jet engines to the front of an ER22 rail engine, which topped out at 180 mph. Sure, the maglev and bullet trains went faster, but jet trains sound so much cooler (unless you live within ten miles of the tracks.)
These days it seems like we’ve reeled in our dreams so much that nobody would even dare suggest a 1,000 mph jet train. Maybe we’re just more realistic these days. Or maybe people back then had more vision and saw fewer barriers.Why build a jet train?
Well, why not?
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.