Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hypersonic vactrains are widespread

Significant areas of the world have established a hypersonic, evacuated tube transport system connecting their major population centres. Its routes primarily extend throughout Russia, Northern Europe, Canada and the US. These trains are more advanced versions of the slower, simpler prototypes first introduced decades previously.

This form of transport works by combining the principles of maglev trains and pneumatic tubes. The trains, or vactrains as they are called, travel inside a closed tube, levitated and pushed forward by magnetic fields. After passing through an airlock, the train cars enter a complete vacuum inside the tube. With no air friction to slow it down, the vactrain can reach speeds far beyond that of any traditional rail system. The fastest routes can reach speeds of around 4,000 mph (6,400 km/h) – or around five times the speed of sound – compared to a 300 mph maglev train a century earlier

With speed of this magnitude, any city within the network can be reached in just a few hours, even if located on the other side of the planet. A number of new routes are in the planning stages as well, including a system of truly massive transoceanic connections. This is possible thanks in part to the relative cheapness (10% the cost of high-speed rail), as well as its energy efficiency. Since the train cars simply coast for most of the trip after being accelerated, slowing down also allows most of the energy to be regained by the track system. The modular design of the tubes also enables construction to be completely automated.

One of the main issues designers had to contend with was the problem of safety. At such high speeds, even the slightest bump in the track or misalignment could end in disaster. In addition, the sheer size of the tube systems means that engineers have to deal with the movements of tectonic plates – a particular problem when crossing fault lines. In order to deal with this and disasters such as earthquakes, an immense system of gyroscopes and adjusters are maintained along the length of each route. These are controlled by an automated system of computers receiving constant streams of weather and seismic data, adjusting and bracing the track in real time. Leaks into the vacuum are managed through a combination of self-healing materials and redundant plating.

The late 21st century is a bleak, fragile time for humanity, with much rebuilding to do. However, the resurgence of international travel (following a collapse in earlier decades) is contributing once more to a homogenization between stable countries, with ease of transport bringing the world closer together. One particular area in which it helps is the rapid movement and resettling of refugees affected by climate-related disasters.

train speeds history

References :

1 British Social Attitudes Survey:
Accessed 6th October 2013.

2 "Swiss company Acabion sees such vacuum tube-based mass transport systems becoming a reality by 2100 and ... envisages a global network that would let users circle the globe in less than two hours and make transcontinental journeys possible in less than the time it currently takes to get across town."
See Around the world in 0.083 days: Acabion's vision for future transport, gizmag:
Accessed 14th February 2013.

3 "...China should target the development of high-speed ground transportation with 600 to 1,000 kilometers per hour which should be in operation between 2020 and 2030."
See Maglev Trains – Future of Transportation,
Accessed 14th February 2013.

4 "If ETT does see the light of day it is estimated to travel at a top speed of 4,000 mph. That's more than mach 5! More than only the fastest record-breaking jets! At 4,000 mph, a trip from Washington DC to Beijing would take just two hours."
See From D.C. To Beijing In 2 Hours – Evacuated Tube Transport Could Revolutionize How We Travel, Singularity Hub:
Accessed 14th February 2013.

5 Land_speed_record_for_rail_vehicles – Maglev_trains, Wikipedia:
Accessed 14th February 2013.

6 How to survive the coming century,
Accessed 25th May 2009.

7 Most of the world's languages 'will vanish by 2100', The Independent:
Accessed 18th October 2009.

8 All Wet on Sea Level - The Remix,
Accessed 24th September 2009.

9 Maldives cabinet makes a splash, BBC News:
Accessed 17th October 2009.

10 No rainforest, no monsoon: get ready for a warmer world, New Scientist:
Accessed 28th February 2010.

11 Hours of Work in U.S. History,
Accessed 15th October 2013.

12 British society - 1815-1851 > Living and working conditions, BBC:
Accessed 15th October 2013.

13 See 2021.
14 We're Getting Off the Ladder – The Future of Work, Time:,28804,1898024_1898023_1898076,00.html
Accessed 15th October 2013.

15 See 2039.
16 Spending on food at home, cars, clothing, household furnishings and housing and utilities, as a share of disposable functional income, 1950-2012, US Bureau of Economic Analysis:
Accessed 15th October 2013.

17 See 2060-2100.
18 Working hours: Get a life, The Economist:
Accessed 15th October 2013.

19 Average annual hours actually worked per worker, OECD:
Accessed 15th October 2013.

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