Imagine being able to travel to Europe in just forty five minutes, or from one US coast to the other in the same amount of time. That’s what the folks at Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies (ET3) are planning. It’s an idea that has been around for years IO9 says, but thus far, no one has been able to come up with a workable plan to make it happen. CurnchBase says the time might be ripe to begin building just such a new mode of fast travel.
The whole thing works on two basic principles. The first is that objects moving through a vacuum need far less energy to propel them forward. The second is that using magnets to allow hovering during travel reduces friction to nearly zero; combing the two results in a mode of transport that engineers at ET3 say, could allow for moving passengers at speeds of up to 4000 miles per hour. Fast enough to get all the way around the Earth in just six hours.
The basic plan is pretty simple, build a long tube that sits on top of a support platform across vast stretches of land. From a distance such a transportation system would likely look nearly identical to oil or gas pipelines. Others compare it more to the suction system banks use for moving objects between customers in cars and employees inside. There would be differences of course. To achieve such phenomenal speeds, the tube for moving people would have to lie almost perfectly flat; no sharp tunes or swerving to avoid obstacles. Thus, building such a system would have to be done only on flat terrain or by going through obstacles, rather than around them.
The group says that building and operating such a transport system would be just a fraction of that needed to build high speed trains, and once the system was running, the costs to keep it going would be cheaper than for airplane, or even automobile travel. The reasons are pretty simple. The only cost would be to ramp the cars inside the tubes up to speed. Because of the absence of friction from the ground or wind, the vehicle could actually coast the rest of the way to its destination. They say buying a ticket for such a trip across the country could cost less than a taxi ride across Manhattan.
ETT3 is still looking for backers, but says that new construction technology has lowered the costs of such projects to the extent, that several governments are now currently involved in discussing such a system for their jurisdictions, which means, Evacuated Tube Transfer, could become a reality as soon as the next decade.