'Hyperloop' high-speed transport system plans unveiled

Tuesday 13 Aug 2013

Elon Musk reveals the long-awaited design plans for the transit concept

Inventor and founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors Elon Musk finally revealed the design plans for his "fifth mode of transport", the revolutionary Hyperloop high-speed transit system in a 57-page PDF document late Monday evening.

Musk says that his "cross between a Concorde and a rail gun and an air hockey table" could carry passengers from central Los Angeles to downtown San Francisco (380 miles) faster than an airplane. The system could cover the distance in less than 30 minutes, travelling at speeds of up to 760mph and at a cost of around $20.

The solar-powered elevated transit concept, which Musk says would be a "faster, safer and cheaper" way of travelling between the two cities than the under-development high-speed train service, essentially transports capsules through a long, low-pressure steel tube.

The sealed capsules, which could each carry 28 passengers seated in cabins inside, are supported on a cushion of air, operated using a compressed air reservoir and aerodynamic lift, Musk explains in the paper.

The concept is best suited to travelling between cities which are less than 1,000 miles apart, he added, maintaining that the system would beat travelling by plane as it avoids the time-consuming ascent and descent.

The system would cost under £6bn to build, Musk says, and although he will probably build a prototype, he doesn't have time to build the megatrain himself and hopes that others will be able to turn the project into reality.

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