From Chicago to Cleveland in just 32 minutes? Hyperloop could make it possible.
Hyperloop is the high-tech, high-speed transport system. After years of theory and early stages of development, it is time for me to leave the laboratory and begin to make an impact on reality.
The speed of this supersonic train (10 times faster than a car, twice as fast as a plane) could lead to an explosion of economic growth, according to a new study.
The next step will lead us to the first American route of this technology. Building a Hyperloop passenger system between Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburgh can lead to more than 900.000 jobs and $ 47,6 billion in profits, according to the feasibility study to be released Monday by the Coordinating Agency of the Northeast Ohio, which coordinates transportation expenses and would fund these supersonic trains.
It costs a lot, it pays more
"I think it would be a great opportunity to transform transport and the way we live, work and play"he said Grace Gallucci, executive director of the agency.
The rigorous feasibility study cost only $ 1,3 million, and has been shared with HyperloopTT, one of the companies interested in developing a path based on this technology.
The technology is still under development, so the timing of the system is still a mystery. It's hard to get too excited about something that's still being tested.
"Such a fast service would be exciting, but the obstacles still seem huge", said Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation expert from DePaul University.
Let's do a recap: what is hyperloop?
Just type on google Hyperloop to find out what Hyperloop is. Joke, I tell you, come on. Hyperloop is a kind of train consisting of a passenger capsule that travels through a metal tube that is kept "vacuum". The magnets cause the capsule to move and levitate inside the tube.
Removing air from the tube in the hyperloop train eliminates wind resistance and friction, allowing the capsule to reach speeds of up to 1200 kilometers per hour with relatively low power consumption. With the use of solar panels over the entire surface of the tube the system could actually create more energy than it uses, and feed it back into the grid.
HyperloopTT it is just one of the companies that work on technology, others are Virgin Hyperloop One and The Boring Company by Elon Musk.
Other Hyperloop routes have been considered across the country and around the world, including India and the United Arab Emirates.
The tests in France
HyperloopTT is testing the technology in a 320m tube in Toulouse, France. It has a passenger capsule of 3 meters in diameter and similar to the fuselage of a small plane. HyperloopTT plans to test the capsules with people inside in the first half of next year.
Ahlborn plans to be among the first pioneers to test the system, along with Henriette Ardouin, a 101-year-old French woman who remembers how her father doubted planes could fly and who appears in a promotional Hyperloop movie.
Ahlborn is confident that the system, which uses existing technology developed by the aerospace industry, will be safe. The biggest challenge is putting the right regulations in place to enable implementation.
“Nothing can be built if you don't have the go-ahead from the government“Said Ahlborn, whose company is working on insurance issues and safety guidelines.
The feasibility study in detail
The feasibility study was conducted by Transportation Economics & Management Systems (also known as TEMS), a research company in the transportation sector.
The study looked at three possible routes between Chicago and Cleveland and two routes between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
Gallucci said the Cleveland-Chicago route is the best in the country for a Hyperloop pilot project, as it's less than 700 kilometers, the terrain is mostly flat, and there's already a lot of car and air traffic between the two cities. They both have a lot to offer each other, including major research centers, theaters, art museums and universities.
"There is an opportunity for someone who lives in one city to go and work in another"Gallucci said.
The proposed Chicago routes are between 500 and 550 kilometers long depending on the route. Journey time is approximately 30 minutes.
Il project would not require operating subsidies and could be funded entirely by a private company, according to the study. The possible construction period is between 2023 and 2028, from initial construction site work to construction and testing.
Environmental benefits of Hyperloop
A Hyperloop system also offers environmental benefits, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 143 million tons over the next 25 years, says the study.
Ahlborn said it is easier for people to choose to be "green" if they have a green alternative that costs less than the polluting one.
And we come to the costs
A flight to Cleveland can cost between $ 150 and $ 500 depending on the day and airline, and take an hour and twenty minutes, not counting the time spent at the airport. A car trip would take five to six hours and cost about $ 57 in fuel and tolls. The bus takes six hours and costs between $ 60 and $ 92 depending on the day.
Hyperloop would cost around $ 40 for a half-hour trip.
After the submission on Monday 23 December, the study will be sent to the United States Department of Transportation and there will be a 45-day analysis period. An environmental impact study will follow and then it will be time for preliminary engineering.
And in Italy?
edit: 31/01/2020 - Hyperloop Italy has just arrived, led by the big one Gabriele Gresta (if I don't call him Bibop though he can take it), and he works to present the Italian routes, 3 could be in the south. Stay tuned.