Revolutionary super-fast train travel could be coming to the UK that would see passengers transported from London to Manchester in just 18 minutes. The futuristic Hyperloop, a concept designed by Elon Musk, is being developed by two companies in the race to market and touted the UK as a possible landing spot.
Discussions between Hyperloop One and rival company HTT (Hyperloop Transportation Technologies) have reportedly been held with UK transport investors and the government's investment agency, Innovate UK, according to a report by Wired.
A potential destination for the radical transportation technology could link the north of England "making Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds a great single city," Wired quotes Alan James, who worked on UK high-speed rail and now heads Hyperloop One's international business development. With speeds of up to 760mph, which is almost the speed of sound and faster than a commercial jet, it could also mean a brighter future for commuters with a London to Manchester run taking a mind-blowing 18 minutes – if it was ever to be built.
How the Hyperloop works
The Hyperloop works by levitating a passenger carriage inside the friction-less environment of a near-vacuum tube. Either solar-powered electric motors or electromagnetic propulsion could see the pods, carrying hundreds of passengers, achieve speeds of up to 760mph. The beauty of Musk's Hyperloop brainwave is that it could cost significantly less to build as the lightweight structure could be raised in the air on stanchions, meaning it wouldn't require money and man power to create tunnels.
How long will Hyperloop take to travel long distances?
UK – London to Glasgow (345 miles):
US – San Francisco to Washington DC (2,438 miles): 3 hrs
China – Beijing to Hong Kong(1,958 miles): 2hrs 26 minutes
Germany – Berlin to Munich (380 miles): 29 minutes
Germany to Italy – Munich to Rome (433 miles): 33 minutes
Malaysia to Thailand – Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok (1,186 miles): 1 hr 29 minutes
India – New Delhi to Kanyakumari (1,794 miles): 2hrs 15 minutes
Morocco to Tanzania – Casablanca to Dar es Salaam (5,861 miles):
7 hours 18 minutes
Elon Musk came up with the idea back in 2013 when he was inspired to revolutionise high-speed train travel following a Californian rail project that he believed was too expensive and not quick enough. He sketched out his Hyperloop concept in a white paper and then left it open for anyone to follow up as he was too busy with other projects, including trying to revolutionise space transportation.
The two companies ran with the idea and have since been working on scaled-down tests of the technology with the hope of getting the system operational in the next few years. However, with passengers flying in a tube a nearly the speed of sound, questions over safety will have to be fully explored and answered before it does.
But it's an exciting idea and the concept of a network of super high-speed transportation around the UK could transform the country and put future high-speed rail projects similar to the budget-busting HS2 in doubt. And as London's ever-burgeoning population is projected to tip around 10 million by 2024 it could provide an answer to the UK's already straining commuter lines.