Is Hyperloop a train for you?

Posted by Steve Sweeney
on Thursday, October 19, 2017

Excuse me if I've asked you this before, but what do you think of Elon Musk's Hyperloop proposals

The basic facts are both simple in concept and ridiculously ambitious.

Elon Musk, who owns SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and has a gargantuan stash of cash and reserves to spend on technology, wants to build a magnetic levitation system in a low-pressure tube to convey people, and possibly freight, at high speed around the country.

Remember when you used to be able to drive up to a bank branch and place paper checks and deposit slips into a cylinder that a not-too-distance teller would receive through a tube? That's the general idea — but bigger.

The Hyperloop is getting more publicity these days because of Musk and constant media attention. Mainly, it is touted as a way to cut transit times between New York and Washington — with roughly the same route as the Northeast Corridor, mind you —  or between Toronto and Montreal. Heck, why not go from San Francisco to New York? After all, at 760 mph, it would only take about four hours to cross the country non-stop.

But I have conflicted opinions on what to do with Hyperloop as Trains' news editor. That shows on News Wire where a quick search shows we've never done a story about, or even mentioned the Hyperloop, but have at least 18 stories that mention non-vacuum tube MagLev trains and 16 story mentions for little-loved monorails.

We mention those technologies so little because, well, they're not rail trains in the strict sense: vehicles with flanged wheels moving on rails. Yet, the monorails and maglevs and any moving file of two or more vehicles, animals, or people is a train. 

Of course, that also applies to wagon trains, trains of thought, and gear trains, none of which appear in the pages of Trains magazine.

So I'll ask you, between friends, is Hyperloop a train for you?

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