America has fallen far behind the rest of the world when it comes to high-speed rail…but what if we just skipped bullet trains and went straight for vacuum tubes? Elon Musk’s idea of an 800 MPH hyperloop has taken off with a devoted team and, beginning next year, a five-mile test track to see if the world is really ready for this super fast mode of transportation.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) is planning a five-mile test track near Quay Valley, California, reports The Verge. Quay Valley a newly-founded city between San Francisco and Los Angeles that is attempting to be 100% solar powered, making it the perfect place for a futuristic test track. That said, the initial tests will be limited to speeds of just 250 MPH…which will still allow the transport capsule to complete a full loop in just 50 seconds. Residents of Quay Valley will even be able to use the hyperloop, allowing for real-world testing and a source of funding for the newly-minted project.
Ultimately, Musk envisioned a system of hyperloops connecting San Francisco and L.A. that could complete the nearly 400-mile journey in just 30 minutes, and at a cost of just $20 a head. Later on a growing network of hyperloop tubes could connect the entire country, leapfrogging high-speed rail, which at least in California has turned into an overpriced boondoggle of epic proportions (and I say that as a huge fan of trains in general). Though vacuum tube trains are not a new idea, the technology is finally here to make it happen, and a seperate project in China proposes speeds of up to 1,800 MPH. Imagine getting from New York to L.A. in about 90 minutes? Crazy, right?
Construction is supposed to begin next year, so long as HTT can raise an estimated $20 million through crowdfunding to build the test track. At $20 million a mile, it’s certainly not cheap, but compared to the estimated $175 million per mile California’s high-speed rail line between L.A. and San Francisco will cost, it’s a bargain (and then some).