Long distance travel is one of the few sectors that has experienced little technological advancement over the past decades, yet recently some persons, most notably Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, have begun to turn their attention on this relatively forgotten sector.
The ideal manner for long distance travel in the future (other than teleportation) would be a way that provided comfort, immense speed, and low carbon emissions.
The Hyperloop promises to send people along a smooth tube at speeds of up to 4,000mph on international trips, and if built would create a revolution in the travel industry; but for the time being it remains an idea, and truthfully I think that any plans to make it a reality are remote.
Related article: Looking at the Hyperloop and its Predecessors
In Asia however, long distance transport seems to be getting easier and faster, after a new world record was recently set by the brand new Japanese Maglev train.
The L Zero maglev train. (Bloomberg)
During a flawless test run on a 27 mile track, the L Zero Maglev train recorded a speed of 310 mph, a world train speed record; and one of the most incredible things for an object moving at such speed is that the journalists travelling on board reported that “they could barely feel a thing.”
Phys.org explained that “the train does have wheels — it rides on them when the train is at low speed — then rises up above the track when it reaches approximately 93 mph. On the test run, the train reached its peak speed just three miles into the trip.”
Related article: Why Work Should Begin on Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Immediately!
Maglev trains are able to travel at such speeds due to the fact that they ride on a cushion of air, dramatically reducing the friction that builds up in normal land based vehicles moving at high speed. This lack of friction means that the maglev trains need far less energy to move, and due to the lack of contact, mechanical wear is low, making maintenance costs much lower than normal.
The major downside with maglev technology is the huge installation cost, and it is still unknown if the reduced operations and maintenance cost makes up for this. The proposed line between Tokyo and Osaka is expected to cost nearly $90 billion and won’t be completed until 2045. A shorter track between Tokyp and Nagoya is expected to be finished by 2027, and will reduce the travel time from 95 minutes to 40 minutes.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com