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expert reaction to ‘successful test’ of Hyperloop One rail transit system

The Hyperloop One rail transit system has had it’s first successful test.


Philippa Oldham, Head of Transport and Manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:

“This completion of this first trial from Hyperloop One must be very exciting for the team working on the project.

“However, as an engineer there still seem to be some gaps in the information regarding the risks and safety of the system itself. There remains a challenge of cost both in terms of design, production and maintainability with figures initially quoted from the team already escalating.

“Building a sophisticated, evacuated tube system that is elevated on columns and aligned to a standard suitable for 700mph operation will definitely be a challenge.

“As the distance of the trials increase there will be many engineering problems to solve including that of managing track alignment. Within the UK we would not be able to use any existing transport corridors at these speeds due to their lateral curvature. In addition travelling at those speeds means that any fault in the system would mean everyone on board would die – just as you would at 60,000 metres if you were rapidly decompressed. The safety systems will be critical to this technology ever being viable.

“Whilst this was a successful first trial the speeds were still relatively low and so it will be interesting to watch the development of this programme.”


Prof. Robert Noland, Professor of Transportation Planning and Policy at Rutgers University, said:

“Hyperloops are being designed with the hope of shooting people and cargo in pods through vacuum tubes at high speed. This concept was originally seen as a cheaper alternative to High Speed Rail in California. It is unlikely to be cheaper and is even less likely to be practical. Most of the costs of construction will be similar to any rail project, this involves right of way acquisition, station costs, etc.  For passenger transport these have been criticized as essentially “barf” pods given the high rates of acceleration involved. Cargo transport might seem like a better option, but where is the market for such high speed cargo transport? Maybe countries such as Dubai, with ample undeveloped land, are willing to invest in a technology such as this, and labor costs may make it more feasible, but in developed countries the costs will be prohibitive.”


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