Will Hyperloop ever replace conventional trains?

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Hey Guys, Sorry if this is in the wrong section but will Hyperloop ever completely replace conventional trains? I'm not talking about high-speed rail, just normal regional/cross country trains in countries such as US/Canada, Europe and Asia?

Thanks
 

MARC Rider

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Hmmm, this seems to be related to the monorail thread we had a while ago.

My view is that I wouldn't hold my breath at this happening in my lifetime. OK, so I'm retired, but, then, no one has yet built a working practical hyperloop. Even if they do, I don't see why it would have any advantages over conventional rail, even if a usable version is capable at traveling at airline speeds.
There are a number of reasons:
  • Hyperloop will be orders of magnitude more expensive than even high speed rail. The high speeds mean that the guideway has to have minimum curves and grades, which means the right of way will be harder to acquire than even rail right of way and building the thing will require numerous tunnels and viaducts, more so than even high speed rail, thus further escalating the cost of construction.
  • If there are any curves or grades, the passengers will be subjected to amusement-park-ride levels of changes in g-forces, giving new meaning to the term "vomit comet."
  • The guideway is an evacuated sealed tube, as compared to two steel rails for conventional rail. More complexity, more chances for things to go wrong.
  • The vehicle in which the passengers ride is a windowless pod. Thus one needs to deal with claustrophobia in addition to the amusement park ride.
I can't see how building one of these is going to be cheaper than building high-speed conventional rail. I can't see how it would be cheaper than the other touted rail alternative, maglev. At least with maglev, there are lines in operation.

This seems to be just another example of "Gadgetbahnen."

What is Gadgetbahn? To quote Anton Dubrau:

"A gadgetbahn is a speculative transportation concept that proposes to solve planning and financial issues via some sort of magical techno-fix, likely some technology that doesn’t even exist yet."

Click the link for more detail.

My take on the perennial appeal of these things is based on this:

As a science-fiction fan, I have noticed that there is a group of science fiction fans that have the idea that in the future, all technology from the past will disappear. I'll bet if some of those fans from the 1950s and 1960s got hold of a time machine and came to 2021, they'd sure be disappointed that almost everyone's still driving around in cars powered by internal combustion engines fueled by petroleum distillates. And they'd be even more upset to see people still riding around in railroad trains, a technology that's now almost 200 years old. For this reason, when they visualize "future," they invent "advanced" transportation technology that is completely impractical.

Take one of these types of science fiction fans, let him become a multibillionaire on the basis of a business vaguely related to computer technology, and you get Elon Musk. :) OK, he's been mildly successful with electric cars and space rockets, but I think this hyperloop thing is just not going to "fly."
 

Devil's Advocate

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Hey Guys, Sorry if this is in the wrong section but will Hyperloop ever completely replace conventional trains? I'm not talking about high-speed rail, just normal regional/cross country trains in countries such as US/Canada, Europe and Asia? Thanks
Hyperloop is a boutique travel concept that is technically possible but also impractical, expensive, & inefficient.

 

George Harris

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Not a chance. Multiple reasons. Just a couple.
1. Tunnels will not magically be cheaper to build for the Hyperloop. People have been building tunnels for thousands of years and much at least in the last couple hundred years by contractors for who building things cheaper is necessary to stay in business.
1a. The tunnel concept being proposed ignores all realities concerning safety, breakdowns, evacuations, etc.
2. Use of a vacuum to reduce resistance to movement (Is this still part of the game plan?) has many problems, not the least maintaining it will require massive energy expenditure, and if there is a breakdown and a need for evacuation the first thing must be eliminate the vacuum. If you cannot evacuation of the living is a non-problem.
3. Putting a system underground does not eliminate right of way issues. Ask any pipeliner.
4. Acceleration forces, starting, stopping and curving will still need to be based on comfort, not safety. Thus you cannot run something with quick starts and stops and sharp curves equivalent to those of bank drive through tubes. If you tried, you would be removing your passengers from the ends and walls with a large spatula.
There are many more.
 
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