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Transportation

The Smog To Fog Challenge: Settling the High-Speed Rail vs. Hyperloop Debate 333

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-just-build-both dept.
waderoush writes "Elon Musk thinks California should kill its $68 billion high-speed rail project and build his $7.5 billion Hyperloop instead. It's a false choice. We should pursue all promising new options for efficient mass transit, and let the chips fall where they may; if it turns out after a few years that Musk's system is truly faster and cheaper, there will still be time to pull the plug on high-speed rail. But why not make things interesting? Today Xconomy proposes a competition in the grand tradition of the Longitude Prize, the Orteig Prize, and the X Prizes: the $10 billion Smog to Fog Challenge. The money, to be donated by big corporations, would go to the first organization that delivers a live human from Los Angeles to San Francisco, over a fixed ground route, in 3 hours or less. Such a prize would incentivize both publicly and privately funded innovation in high-speed transit — and show that we haven't lost the will to think big."
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The Smog To Fog Challenge: Settling the High-Speed Rail vs. Hyperloop Debate

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    What is the obsession with flinging your sack of water down a track at 300 miles per hour. In a world of diminishing cheap energy, why travel fast? You know, in many cities, the tram systems carried more people everyday than most cities now transport people in cars into the city from the suburbs.

    Ding Ding!!

    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday August 17, 2013 @10:48AM (#44594063) Homepage

      What is the obsession with flinging your sack of water down a track at 300 miles per hour. In a world of diminishing cheap energy, why travel fast?

      Indeed, in a world of increasing teleconferencing and telecommuting, you'd think the attraction of high-speed travel would be less pressing with each year that goes by.

      I'm not saying that the human race is going to end up as a race of hermits plugged into virtual reality 24/7 and never leaving their homes like some science-fiction envisions, but at some point the amount of business travellers that these schemes depend on is going to fall low enough that it won't seem worthwhile.

      • by DigiShaman (671371) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @10:58AM (#44594135) Homepage

        Because at the end of the day, human beings are social creatures where a handshake in person still means something in business.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by spire3661 (1038968)
          If you waste money to procure a handshake, you shouldnt be in business.
        • This is true.

          Nothing beats actual human interaction.

          Telecommuting is such a failure.

          Nobody wants their human interaction cheapened. If you ever want to build any kind of relationship (sales, groups, fucking, etc..), you actually have to meet people in real life.

          Telling someone you want to telecommute is telling someone you aren't worth their time to do something expensive for them

          Telecommuting is for people that want to cheapen relationships.

          Also, 100% of the population needs to build relationships. It's n

          • by khallow (566160) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @04:57PM (#44596525)

            Only libertarian losers that believe in "freedom" think life shouldn't be about building relationships and think of life as for themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. You have to kiss ass to those in power if you want power back.

            Ah, yes, the instinctive urge to bash so-called "libertarians" brings out the inner cockroach. Libertarianism has nothing to do with "building relationships," but is merely a philosophy about governance. In a libertarian society, there would be an even greater need to build relationships because you couldn't use the force of the state to insure compliance or seize resources. The mugger doesn't need to build a relationship. While much is made of self-reliance, less is discussed of the new opportunities for building relationships that would exist in a libertarian society.

            There's a portion of the population that is for lack of a better word, "introspective". They don't interact well with people or easily build relationships. They aren't naturally libertarians any more than anyone else. So labeling this group as "libertarian losers" just indicates ignorance on your part.

      • by xaxa (988988) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @11:14AM (#44594229)

        Indeed, in a world of increasing teleconferencing and telecommuting, you'd think the attraction of high-speed travel would be less pressing with each year that goes by.

        Since 1993, the number of journeys by rail has gone up in the UK every year except 2008.

        Better teleconferencing and better journey times means more business happens, which more than compensates for the people who no longer need to travel. A manufacturer likes to have their suppliers nearby. The distance "nearby" increases with better railways, and the number of potential suppliers the manufacturer is aware of increases with better telecoms.

        • More likely the result of an increasing population and the London congestion charge.

        • Has the speed of rail journeys increased at the same rate? And how much does the EuroStar contribute to that? Most of the time, I'd rather spend two hours travelling in comfort than one hour in cramped conditions - there are a few times when I'd really appreciate more speed, but most of the time I'd like to be on a mode of transport where I'm comfortable enough to work or relax. When I started here, I took a few first-class train trips back on the London to Swansea route, at off-peak times, so I got a 4-
      • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @12:17PM (#44594647) Homepage
        I tried telecommuting to Disney World, but it just wasn't the same. Your assumption that the only reason people have to travel someplace is to show up for a job, let alone one that can be done with tele* is at best a grossly invalid assumption. Just limiting the scope to business use we have at a bare minimum off the top of my head: Sales people; Field Engineers; CEOs. The list of people who cannot properly do their job by telecommuting is pretty long.
    • Three hours? All that money to shave away 120 minutes?

      If it weren't for CHP, I'd make it in five, every time, no problem...

      • by MightyYar (622222)

        Not to mention... airplanes. So many billions would probably pay for an extra/improved airport or two. Airplanes don't require any infrastructure in between, and you could link the airports to the city center with regular rail at a fraction of the cost. For that cost, you could even set up some kind of pre-screening on the train that links the city center to the airport so that the train can deliver the passengers on the secure side of the airport.

        • by CRCulver (715279)

          So many billions would probably pay for an extra/improved airport or two. Airplanes don't require any infrastructure in between, and you could link the airports to the city center with regular rail at a fraction of the cost.

          Airplanes produce an enormous amount of CO2 compared to trains. One is not really saving money with that externality involved. In the long run, it would be prudent for the state to support rail travel and discourage air travel.

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            Airplanes don't have to be carbon polluters. You could run them on biofuels or capture the carbon. Carbon offsets are fairly cheap - probably under a buck per passenger per typical flight.

            • by CRCulver (715279)

              Airplanes don't have to be carbon polluters. You could run them on biofuels

              Even if you run them on biofuels, once you factor in the amount of carbon produced in the manufacture and transport of those biofuels, airplanes are still considerably greater carbon polluters than trains which draw on an electric grid.

        • by Ichijo (607641) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @12:47PM (#44594859) Homepage Journal

          So many billions would probably pay for an extra/improved airport or two.

          The alternative to building California's HSR is spending $38.6 to $41.0 billion on 115 new airport gates and 4 new runways, plus $119.0 to $145.5 billion building 4,295 to 4,652 new lane-miles of highway, all just to move the same number of people as $98.1 billion spent on HSR.

      • by MITguy21 (1248040)

        Three hours? All that money to shave away 120 minutes?

        If it weren't for CHP, I'd make it in five, every time, no problem...

        Google Maps reports LA-->SF at 382 mi, 5 hours 35 minutes. To do this in 3 hours, on existing roads requires an average speed of 382/3 = 127 mph.

        Tomorrow's NASCAR race at Michigan will be 500 miles and the winner's average speed is likely to be over 160 mph including pitstops and caution periods to clean up wrecks. A number of cars qualified (solo run) at over 200 mph. The Silver State Classic Challenge is held on closed public roads, http://www.sscc.us/history.aspx [www.sscc.us] and the current record for 90 miles

        • Google Maps reports LA-->SF at 382 mi, 5 hours 35 minutes.

          He said "if it were not for CHP, I could make it in five every time".

          Shaving 35 minutes off a five hour trip is really easy if you drive reasonably (i.e. non-dangerously) fast.

          In fact pretty much all the time I am somewhere five-ten minutes per hour faster than the Google estimate.

        • If it weren't for CHP, I'd make it in five, every time, no problem...

          Google Maps reports LA-->SF at 382 mi, 5 hours 35 minutes. To do this in 3 hours, on existing roads requires an average speed of 382/3 = 127 mph.

          Keep in mind that the SF-LA high speed rail is scheduled to be under construction for thirty years before it is operational. By that time we will almost certainly have self driving cars that can do 127mph safely. We could build streamlined self driving buses that could go from SF to LA in three hours on existing interstate highways for about 1% of the cost of the HS rail boondoggle.

          • by Ichijo (607641)

            Keep in mind that the SF-LA high speed rail is scheduled to be under construction for thirty years before it is operational.

            False. The Initial Operating Section (220 mph or 350 km/h from San Jose to Palmdale) is scheduled to be operational in 2022, just nine years from now.

            You must be thinking of the full build-out, from San Diego and Anaheim to San Francisco and Sacramento.

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @01:11PM (#44594993) Journal
          To put that in perspective, the InterCity 125 was a rail service introduced in 1976 in the UK with a top speed of 125mph. Sadly, we've neglected our rail infrastructure as a result of one of the stupidest privatisation plans in the history of the world and so they rarely hit over 100mph now. Meanwhile, the French TGV has, on some lines, an average speed of 173.6 mph, with top speeds of over 200mph. It recently lost the record for the fastest journey speed for a scheduled train to the Chinese.

          Doing that journey in 3 hours wouldn't even be stretching modern technology. You do, however, hit diminishing returns quite quickly. At 125mph, it's about 3 hours. To get to 2 hours, you need to go up to 191mph. To get down to 1 hour, you're up at 382mph and the Hyperloop speed makes it just over half an hour. While there's an obvious advantage to half an hour over 3 hours, there's not much difference in convenience between a 2-hour and a 3-hour journey. Even getting a 3-hour trip down to 1.5 hours isn't something that many people would be willing to pay a significant premium for, especially when you have half an hour of much slower travelling to get you to the station at each end.

          If California wants to spend a lot of money on their train system, they should consider improvements to the Caltrain. It's under 80 miles of track, but getting between San Jose to San Francisco on a Sunday is painful. Upgrading 80 miles of track to support even 150mph trains and replacing the archaic rolling stock would mean that most of the valley on the Caltrain would take less time than one side of San Francisco to the other on the BART (which could also benefit from some modernisation). And if you've ever driven from one side of SF to the other, then you'll see the attraction of public transport...

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jphamlore (1996436)
            Major portions of the Caltrain track from San Francisco to San Jose are simply IMPOSSIBLE to "upgrade." The track is rolling right through rich small cities with not much room on either side. What is the upgrade, putting everything on massive concrete and steel supports or burying it? The first option would never be allowed because it would a horrendous eyesore and stupendously expensive, the second option would simply be impossibly expensive.

            BART was the only chance, and when it wasn't extended many

      • Goddam Ponch and Jon.

    • by necro81 (917438)

      What is the obsession with flinging your sack of water down a track at 300 miles per hour. In a world of diminishing cheap energy, why travel fast

      Perhaps in a generation or two (or after a few energy crises) you could convince people to sacrifice a full day traveling from LA to SanFran, but for the moment, take it as a given that people want and, to a small extent, need to travel that distance in a short period of time. Given that, consider the available alternatives to Hyperloop or the proposed High Spe

      • Are there figures on passenger rail energy cost available?

        I know freight does a lot better than aircraft, but buses and commuter rail tend to have a lot of starts and stops, can't get away with keeping the speed below 50mph or mile-long trains, and often are far from full, and there's not much you can do about the over-capacity - you must run at low-volume times or people won't have confidence they'll be able to make the return trip (or won't be able to make the original trip...) using the mass transit ser

    • by MaWeiTao (908546)

      I'm sorry, but that's an idiotic attitude to hold. From a business perspective it's invaluable to meet in person. Telecommuting isn't all it's cracked up to be and often is detrimental to the workplace. But there are a multitude of reasons why people would want to physically travel somewhere. People move where the jobs and opportunities are. This often means separation from friends and family which in turn means that they're more likely to travel to see them. How about sightseeing and vacations? Who in the

  • No. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) *

    "conventional" high-speed rail is a proven concept in use today in many non-North American countries. Musk's idea, while based on things that are already being studies, contains a lot of unproven technology.

    Even if we could do the necessary R&D in a *reasonable* amount of time, the 7+ billion price-tag is way too low.

    It's a pipe dream - er, tube dream - to think this is a practical transportation solution right now or even in the near future.

    • contains a lot of unproven technology.

      No, actually it doesn't. Obviously all this proven technology has never been combined in this particular way before, but there's nothing in the plan that's not available off the shelf today.

      • by reub2000 (705806)

        If the technology is all ready then why doesn't he build a test track out in the desert to prove it?

        • Re:No. (Score:4, Informative)

          by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @12:17PM (#44594649)

          If the technology is all ready then why doesn't he build a test track out in the desert to prove it?

          Because he is busy running Tesla and SpaceX. He just proposed the idea, it is not his duty to "prove it". If it is a good idea, it should be adopted regardless of who proposed it.

          Personally, I think neither HS-Rail nor Hyperloop should be built. They are both decades away, and by that time we will have self-driving electric cars. It would be far cheaper to build a streamlined self-driving bus that can do 120MPH on existing road infrastructure. It could go from LA to SF in about three hours. That is "good enough" and would be about 1% of the cost. The other 99% of the price tag for rail could be used to pay down our 14 trillion dollar debt.

          • by reub2000 (705806)

            Good point. It is not his duty to prove it. But smart ideas alone are not going to convince California taxpayers to invest a few billion dollars in something that has never before been built. Someone is going to have to prove it.

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IICV (652597) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @11:07AM (#44594189)

      Yes, the actual high speed rail technology is a concept that's been done before - however, stomping over all of that privately owned land between LA and SF is a political concept that's completely infeasible at this point in time.

      Although Elon Musk is using a bunch of existing technology in new ways, his plan is politically feasible - and it's not like we would just start building the Hyperloop without doing a proof-of-concept first. If it turns out that the idea doesn't scale, we'd do something else.

      • by bkmoore (1910118)

        Yes, the actual high speed rail technology is a concept that's been done before - however, stomping over all of that privately owned land between LA and SF is a political concept that's completely infeasible at this point in time.....

        It's called right of way. The government has used right of way before to build the highways (freeways in CA). The only difference is CA has become much more densely populated in the last 60 years, so more than just orange groves would be displaced.

        • by IICV (652597)

          Yes that's why the problem with the high speed rail plan is political, not technical.

          Can you imagine the size of the shitstorm that would happen if the government nabbed all that land? It would be insane. The lawsuits alone would cost billions.

          On the other hand, a bunch of pylons is fine - they don't split your land in half, and the footprint is relatively small.

        • Actually it's called "eminent domain" (at least I think that's what you're getting at) and this is one of the greatest advantages of Musk's plan. There is already a broad "right of way" along the I-5 corridor, and the Hyperloop can be built on top of it, whereas the proposed HSR line would require the gov't to use its power of eminent domain to acquire the right of way for an entire new rail line.

          Even in those few places where the Hyperloop cannot track the I-5 corridor, it only needs a house-sized plot of

    • "conventional" high-speed rail is a proven concept in use today in many non-North American countries.

      I have used high speed rail in Europe, including Germany.

      It's nice but usually slower than planes.

      The hyperloop has the chance to be significantly better than airplane travel, at a reduced environmental (and noise) impact compared to a train.

      I am totally against the California rail project because even the current high estimates are probably 5x lower than actual cost. But if we build the hyperloop, we advan

  • TSA (Score:5, Funny)

    by arthurpaliden (939626) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @10:44AM (#44594035)
    Does that three hours include the TSA screening process?
    • by MightyYar (622222)

      You are right, this thing might become a target, just like airplanes. Or maybe not... it depends how spectacular the failure is. I suspect it won't be very spectacular - a break in the tube would slow the trains immediately and reduce the damage potential. I think it would be like a normal passenger rail disaster... that is to say, bad, but not what terrorists are after.

    • by Ichijo (607641)

      High speed rail generally doesn't get the same thorough screening as airline boarding, with the exception of the line that goes through the Chunnel.

    • I've seen police checkpoints when I was boarding an Amtrak train already and there was a remarkable case where the TSA searched people *leaving* a train.

      The TSA gets to define its own scope. Guess what happens when a bureaucracy can do that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 17, 2013 @10:47AM (#44594055)

    California's high speed rail was originally going to cost $33 billion. (2008's Proposition 1A was a $10 billion bond).

    5 years later, the estimate is $68 billion and it won't actually be high speed.

  • the race (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @10:47AM (#44594057) Journal
    between hyperloop and high speed rail is a false race. YES we need fast trains to move people. What we need MORE is an electrified rail grid to move our stuff around. Most trains run off diesel. The age of cheap oil has been over for quite a while now. We need to shift our infrastructure away from fossil fuels, sector by sector. Moving ALL mass transport (cargo or live, vacuum tube or rail) to electric is of paramount importance, and it needs to start happening now, this way when oil started getting really expensive and scarce in the coming decades, we will be able to transport food and goods. What I think we should see is someone haul 100 boxcars of food from California's central valley to New York City using ONLY electrical engines, no diesel. That would be a landmark moment in history and a real beacon of hope for a future to technical civilisation.
  • both lose (Score:4, Funny)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @10:54AM (#44594105)
    Just build teleporters! By the time they get this hyperloop thing running in like 2020 someone will have invented teleporters and then their business model collapses.
    • by PPH (736903)
      Very funny, Scotty! Now beam down my pants!
    • Assuming teleportation can even occur (physics and energy requirements aside), expect it to be used exclusively for non-organic transport first. I'm expecting a lot of accidental transportation happen before it's deemed safe enough for people.

  • Viva Las Vegas! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mspohr (589790) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @10:55AM (#44594113)

    As a test, it might be better to try this out on the LA to Las Vegas route.
    This is shorter and land acquisition costs across the desert would be very low.
    The route today is currently very heavily traveled so there would be a good market for passengers.
    The casinos would love it and would probably fund it.

    • by MyHair (589485)

      Isn't LA-LV too hilly for a high-speed hyperloop at ground level or even ground level plus a few meters? I think it would be a vomit comet in a can.

      • by mspohr (589790)

        Don't know what the engineering parameters are for the hyperloop but I imagine that they have figured out something reasonable that works with the real world which has hills everywhere.
        Quick look at Google Earth shows max elevation 1475 meters with average slope 2.3% for the current I-5 route. I don't know if this is within their parameters but there is a lot of empty space out there for route selection.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      As a test, it might be better to try this out on the LA to Las Vegas route.
      This is shorter and land acquisition costs across the desert would be very low.
      The route today is currently very heavily traveled so there would be a good market for passengers.
      The casinos would love it and would probably fund it.

      The casinos have been pushing for high speed rail for years. Two obstacles - environmentalists and they want somebody else to pay for it. Other than that, they think its a great idea.

    • by necro81 (917438)
      If nothing else, the desert would make a good place to build a 50 km development/demonstration track. Open spaces, easy land acquisition, few neighbors to complain, relatively small environmental impact (it is built on pylons, after all), lessened earthquake risk, and abundant sunshine.
    • by pepty (1976012)

      The casinos would love it and would probably fund it.

      video poker games and minibars built into the seatbacks which activate as soon as the pods enter Nevada?

  • neither (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @10:58AM (#44594137)

    They are both a waste of money.

  • Idiotic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Princeofcups (150855)

    What a truly idiotic proposition. A fixed route implies ground travel, which implies buying up tons of land, which implies god awful levels of politics and zoning, which implies buy in from the state and laws to make it possible, etc. etc. It's impossible to even get started. Any proposal has to be approved by the public. You can't just start digging up pristine forest or people's back yards for your rail.

    • by guises (2423402)
      Have you read any of the proposals? Do you know anything about either the high-speed rail or the hyperloop? Do you think you're bringing something new to the table with this comment?
    • Even worse the fundamental idea of is deeply flawed - Hyperloop, high speed rail, or anything else that requires serious infrastructure have most of their costs up front - in order to qualify for the competition the system already has to be fully completed. You could skimp on the trains/pods/etc, but those are a tiny fraction of the overall cost.

      So what exactly would be the point of a competition? Even if you could somehow fund all the competitors, you're building a bunch of alternate solutions to a probl

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @11:22AM (#44594281)

    It's not a fair test. Railroads could deliver that speed today if not for government regulation. Even today's high speed rail projects only get rail travel speeds up to what was normal 100 years ago. Now, if you remove all of the restrictions imposed by the government facing railroad then you level the playing field. In addition, it shouldn't be about getting 1 person there in 3 hours. What is more efficient, moving 1 or a small group of people from point a to point b in x amount of time or moving a large group of people from point a to point b?

    The Concorde was very good at moving a small group of people from point a to b at a high speed, but it wasn't economically sustainable. The slower jumbo jets, because they could carry more passengers were actually more efficient. So, if your goal is to get a single person from point a to be as fast as you can, then neither high speed rail nor hyperloop are the way to go. Both would be a collosal waste of resources.

    OTOH, if your goal is to move the most number of people from point a to b in a reasonably fixed period of time, then that is a different problem and would probably call for a different solution.

    Basically, before throwing money at a problem, you should be sure you have defined the problem you want solved. Otherwise, you might just pay a lot of money for a solution that you don't really need.

    • by guises (2423402)
      You're complaining about safety regulations? The big bad government keeps fucking stuff up because it cares too much about people dying, eh? High speed rail in the US can't get up to genuinely high speeds because it's making use of old tracks which can't sustain those speeds. High speed rail in France and Japan manage just fine with their newer tracks, despite all that regulation weighing them down.

      The reason why people like rail as a means of high speed transport is because you can move a large number of
  • Right of way has always been the problem for transportation. Long narrow corridors intersect many landowners. One of the major reasons the transcontinental railroads were able to be built by private industry is that the US Government owned much of the land, and gave it to them. They didn't have to go buy small strips of land from thousands of land owners.

    Follow a small road project in your area. Land acquisition will take years, decades usually. There will always be several people who just don't want t

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Actually one of the benefits of the Hyperloop idea is that it's designed to follow the existing government-owned highway right-of-way except for in a very few places where its path winds too much to allow for the high pod speeds. This is actually an advantage shared by most elevated transport systems - since it's relatively easy to span 100 yards or more between pylons there is minimal impact at ground level which radically reduces both land acquisition and preparation costs, as well as radically reducing

  • 68 billion for this thing is madness. So anything that undermines the project and shuts it down is in the public interest.

    Further, if we're going to build a silly vanity project, I'd much rather have the hyperloop. The hyperloop is at the very least cutting edge and not something out of the 70s. California is supposed to be cutting edge. We deserve better then an over priced crappy train.

  • by milkmage (795746) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @11:37AM (#44594367)

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Big-setback-for-California-high-speed-rail-project-4739710.php [sfgate.com]

    "the agency overseeing the bullet train failed to comply with the financial and environmental promises made to voters when they approved initial funding for the project five years ago."

  • by Dishevel (1105119)
    Op is an idiot.

    Everyone in California knows that the high speed rail project is crap. Over budget by miles. Will not go to LA or SF. Will not be high speed.

    This should never be built.

  • The money, to be donated by big corporations, would go to the first organization that delivers a live human from Los Angeles to San Francisco

    So what do I get for delivering a dead human?

    • by pepty (1976012)
      Capital punishment is a touchy subject in CA, but execution by public transportation would certainly obviate the difficulties states face in procuring drugs for lethal injections. However, this particular competition would probably get more popular support if it was proposed for a Dallas-Houston route rather than LA-SF.
    • by Immerman (2627577)

      20 years?

  • Commuting 300 mph to another city? That's science.

    To work at a job there? Now that's fiction.

  • I wonder if the airline industry would try to stop or slow this down. Every ticket sold to get from NY to LA via hyperloop would be a ticket not sold to an airline company.

    Given the choice between waiting in long lines to be TSA manhandled, sitting on a runway for who knows how long, then suspended in air for more hours by a machine that could fail in one of any of a million ways and plummet from 30,000 feet for 15 minutes of sheer terror before violent death -- or getting on a sleek new sexy technology gro

    • by jcr (53032)

      I wonder if the airline industry would try to stop or slow this down.

      They have no need to do so. Aircraft buried the rail industry because their advantages are compelling. Politicians' fantasies have no effect at all on economic reality.

      -jcr

  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @12:59PM (#44594931)
    In this debate, people have forgotten an important point that Musk made early on: In being solar powered, the system is expected to yield enough excess electricity to make it worth contributing to the grid. I'm not going to get into the debate itself, but for those of you tossing the ball back and forth, you should consider this point in your arguments, whether you think that particular claim is feasible or not.
  • We should pursue all promising new options for efficient mass transit,

    That precludes the state's "high speed rail" boondoggle, then.

    -jcr

  • The largest issue I have with the hyperloop proposal is its rather pitiful capacity. At the highest rate proposed, with once cart every 30 seconds it still only transpoprts ~3600 PAX/hr, which is about on par with a 3 lane highway and that is before mixing in the car carriers.

    Bog standard high-speed train lines do 30000 PAX/hr routinely, and while the hyperloop carts might be able to scale some, based on how they do the air bearing and that I think linked carts likely will not work, I doubt they can scale m

    • by Animats (122034)

      The largest issue I have with the hyperloop proposal is its rather pitiful capacity. At the highest rate proposed, with one cart every 30 seconds it still only transports ~3600 PAX/hr, which is about on par with a 3 lane highway and that is before mixing in the car carriers.

      Musk writes in his proposal: "Assuming an average departure time of 2 minutes between capsules, a minimum of 28 passengers per capsule are required to meet 840 passengers per hour." So it's even worse than 3600PAX/hr.

      Compare current flight capacity. At peak, there are 5 flights an hour from SF to LA. The most common plane on that run is a Boeing 737 with 137 seats, for 685 seats/hour. So the Hyperloop has more capacity than the current aircraft. Comparing with other tunnel systems, Eurotunnel moves about

  • 1) you really expect to get $10 billion in corporate donations?

    2) anyone who can make it through the state of California's environmental, legal and political gauntlet and build ANY dedicated passenger train system from LA to San Francisco deserves an award.

    The problem is not that we don't know how to build great trains, the problem is that we don't know how to build a large project across multiple counties in California.

  • Giving people the chance to be stranded 50ft off the ground a few miles outside of Coalinga while the scent of 5000 heads of cattle wafts your way...

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @02:25PM (#44595497)

    My main issue with the tube technology is that all the articles seem to assume that the tube will be straight. In the real world there are very few straight lines. Between any two distant points there will be mountains, valleys, cities, rivers, hills, houses, etc. The tube will not be straight unless you want to build it underground all the way then it becomes very expensive. Even underground there will be issues with valleys where the tube may have to be suspended. To me it is a given that the tube will have to have curves in it which brings me to the math of curves.

    The acceleration of an object moving along a curve is a= v^2/r or r = v^2/a. If the object is moving at 600kph and we want to keep the acceleration to 1/2G at most the radius would be 167^2/4.9 = 5.7 km. That would mean to alter course by 45 degrees it would take 9kms. That is a very long curve. It is even worse in that the curve would have to have an in run and an out run to make the transition manageable. Remember that these curves are not just left and right. If one goes over the brow of a hill negative G's could be an issue. The human body can not handle feeling lighter very well. people get sick pretty fast.

    To keep these smooth curves there will be very few places where the tube will be sitting on solid ground. Much of the time it will be under ground or suspended in the air. Both of those make construction and maintenance very expensive.

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