New York to Beijing in two hours without leaving the ground?


March 22, 2012

An ETT (Evacuated Tube Transport) line in which car-sized passenger/cargo capsules would travel

An ETT (Evacuated Tube Transport) line in which car-sized passenger/cargo capsules would travel

Image Gallery (5 images)

Although there are similarities to the Startram concept we looked at recently, this take on maglev-like transport is all on terra firma and, if it ever eventuates, would take passengers from New York to Beijing in just two hours. Advocates of Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) claim it is silent, cheaper than planes, trains or cars and faster than jets.

The basic plan is, well, as old as the enabling patent, US Patent 5950543, whose description is quite thorough. Issued in 1999, there remain seven years on the term of the patent, which is assigned to, Inc., a licensing organization that hopes to head an alliance of players to fund and construct demonstration facilities.

The short version of the ETT story is as follows: put a superconducting maglev train in evacuated tubes, then accelerate using linear electric motors until the design velocity is attained. As the motors are integrated into the evacuated tubes, the conveyance capsules which travel in the tube need have no moving or electrically activated parts - passive superconductors allow the capsules to float in the tube, while eddy currents induced in conducting materials drive the capsules. Efficiency of such a system would be high, as the electric energy required to accelerate a capsule could largely be recaptured as it slows.

The most practical model system is based on car-sized passenger/cargo capsules that travel in 1.5 m (5 ft) diameter vacuum maglev tubes. The maglev tubes are permanently maintained at near vacuum conditions, and the capsules are inserted into and removed from the tubes through airlocks at stations along the route. After the capsules are accelerated to the design velocity (some 4,000 mph or 6,500 km/h), they coast for the remainder of the trip. There is no drag from traveling through air, and although small oscillations in the maglev suspension do cause a bit of inefficiency, it is a tiny fraction of the rather immense kinetic energy of an occupied capsule - which with a car of about 550 kg (1,212.5 lb) traveling at 4,000 mph is just about 244 kWh.

The capsule speed will depend on the length of the trip, as it takes time to accelerate. Given a nominal acceleration of 1 g, it takes about 3 minutes to reach 4,000 mph, at which point the capsule has traveled over 100 miles (161 km)., Inc. believes that a reasonable speed for shorter trips is 370 mph (600 km/h). While tubes could be networked like freeways, with capsules automatically routed along their trip, local and long-distance trips would require separate maglev tubes to avoid unreasonable scheduling delays. Around the world in just over six hours isn't orbital velocity, but the practical benefits would be nearly the same - vital goods and talent delivered quickly to where they are needed.

Members of the ET3 consortium have worked with parties in China, where they say more than a dozen licenses for the company have been sold. As an open consortium, licensees become owners of the company and the group claims more than 60 licenses have also been sold in five different countries, with interest from several more. But with licenses selling through the ET3 website for US$100, a lot more people will need to get on board to turn the dreams of those behind the concept into a reality. The company is developing a 3D Virtual Ride for the system with those interested in hitching a ride able to submit their contact details here. Unfortunately, the prelaunch for the virtual ride was set for last year and it still hasn't eventuated.

Promising concept or pipe dream? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Source: ET3

About the Author
Brian Dodson From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer. All articles by Brian Dodson

This technology is WAY overdue! There is interest being generated right now with the Los Angeles Department Of Transportation. The sooner they break ground, the sooner this will spread across the Globe as the standard mode of mass transportation.

If you want to see this get started in California, Check this site out and click on "Second"!

Michael Jordet

Check your figures, please! 1.) "(some 5,400 km/h (4,000 mph))" - 4000 mph=6437 km/h! 2.) "to reach 5,400 km/s" - perhaps you mean 5,400 km/h!

Valery Mihaylov

Another boondoggle guaranteed to suck money and then go bankrupt. Little details like how to evacuate hundreds of miles of tube and keep it evacuated or that people won't like sitting in a windowless capsule without being able to move or go to the bathroom for an hour. Or keeping the tube absolutely straight though earthquakes (California remember). Those are just off the top of my head.

Makes nice fanciful copy though....


If it could work, it would beat the hell out of our gas-guzzling planes.

Von Meerman

Australia would be an ideal test bed for something like this, but I could never see our pee brained government being remotely interested


Go back to your cave and pointy stick DemonDuck. We'll progress for you.


Remind me of "Swiss project", sort of the same but..underground, and a liitle more slower ! Fortunately they thougt about a "on land" project. Good morning SCFY


Only problems I can see, is emergency stops, at 1200 to 1800 MPH..and, of course, the needed acceleration to get to that speed.. The Only Thing that has stopped us so far, is wind resistance, if that's fixed, all the other issues, which were brought up by the previous commenter, are simply typical weeding out issues.. sideways shock absorbers, that can account for 3 feet in earthquake movement would solve that problem.. And OK maybe it'll appeal to those that hate air travel, but who doesn't , nowadays ;-)


get the scientists working on the tube technology at once. Tube tube technology.


The speed of sound in air is 1,236 km/h. These would be traveling up to 5,400 km/h. Love to see how they contain the force of the routine and repeated sonic booms.


Geez . . . If people are worried about what teensy cell phone currents can do to us, I can imagine that inside one of those electrified maglev tubes you'd turn into your own TV set, AND the iron in your red corpuscles would become magnetized and you'd stick to all the other passengers in your car.

Jeffrey Paull

I agree, silly idea, never going to happen.


How far do the cars need to be spaced to ride safely? What are the effects of these type of magnets on people?

Carlos Grados

skekoa - if the tubes are empty of air you won't get a sonic boom. Even if they were filled with air, the skin of the pipe would contain most of the shockwave.

In addition to the enormous challenges of constructing and maintaining such a scheme, what would happen if it broke down? would you just sit in your pod until someone came along to rescue you? How would you stop locals in remote parts of the world fiddling with it? The energy involved in an object travelling that fast would create some interesting engineering challenges should the maglev power suddenly be lost and gravity pulls the capsule onto the pipe surface.

A stray nut or bolt, if hit during travel, would have the equivalent energy of a bullet from a sniper rifle.


Skekoa, I thought a sonic boom was caused by air pressure, in a vacuum?


@Singularity. How about getting real first. Meet you on Mars for a caffe latte right

Rocky Stefano


The tube is a virtual vaccume? No sonic booms in vaccumes?

I think a major resistance factor is human psychology and how well we as a race can adjust to a new form of transport. Personally the thought of travelling at 4000 MPH in a vaccume terrifies me. But then again an aeroplane travelling at just over 600 mph or something would have terrified many generations before us.

I do see, however, sensible application of this technology in the commercial goods transport industry. If I were a transport company I would readilly invest heavilly in this kind of technology. The pay off is brilliant. and at no human cost.

T.A. Nasir

I think the first time I saw this idea was in 1951 in a science-fiction story and nobody has been able to make it work yet. I doubt if 7 years will be enough to change anything! Over land would be quite a challenge, but underwater would be a lot worse with the enormous depths in the Pacific trying to cruash any tube, let alone an evacuated one! Then, as mentioned above the danger of earthquakes which of course are likely on both sides of the Pacific. The Atlantic might not be quite so difficult, offering East Coast to Europe in about 45mins. However it is a great project to suck money in for decades even if it never succeeds - just like the flying car!


Emergency exits? I guess passengers could just pop out the end of the car into an airless pipe and hike up to the next station a few hundred miles away.

Johnny Kinko

@sgdeluxedoc @skekoa evacuated tubes = no wind resistance, no sonic booms

Johnny Kinko

Skekoa, I guessed you missed the little part about the tubes not having any air in them?

Its not a new idea at all though. But the engineering and construction issues are truly gargantuan. It took ten years to build the BART system in the San Francisco Bay area. Or look at the Gottard Base Tunnel or the Channel tunnel and this is talking about spanning continents and oceans? This would dwarf any engineering project anywhere, ever. I think that something like this is inevitable. Anything that is theoretically possible is probably inevitable. But this will take decades to be realized.

Jon Shurtleff

Not practical for passenger travel, but we should definitely use these for transport of goods. In fact, we could fill them with liquid commodities, maybe something like crude oil from Canada, and transport it cheaply and easily to refineries in the US. Someone should definitely start working on this!

Johnny Kinko

Life seems to be speeding up, more and more every year. The idea of travelling by sailing ship is becoming quite attractive. Yes it takes a long time to get anywhere, but the bonus is.... no jetlag.


This idea has been a staple of science fiction for several decades but it is not now and will not ever be even remotely cost-effective. One factor not mentioned here is that with aircraft an increase in capacity is a fairly simple matter of adding flights to absorb a temporary, or permanent, surge in capacity but in the case of the tube system adding capacity would involve complete duplication of an insanely expensive ultra high-tech infrastructure. Unviable to say the very least.

Mark Mitchell

This idea resurfaces every few years but the original was from 1978:

"Describes a subway concept called "Planetran" comprising electromagnetically supported and propelled cars traveling in underground evacuated tubes"

At that time they thought the only "hard part" was digging the tunnel.


1861, the London Pneumatic Despatch Company UK built a system large enough to move a person, although it was intended for parcels. The inauguration of the new Holborn Station on 10 October 1865 was marked by having the Duke of Buckingham, the chairman, and some of the directors of the company blown through the tube to Euston (a five minute trip). See


The biggest problem to be overcome implumenting this sort of technology is acceptance. L´histoire se répète, when trains were ´the new thing´ in the latter part of the 19th century people were convinced you would die going faster than 30 mph. I am sure that in the future this sort of travel will be commonplace if human society will not destroy itself before it can happen.


This idea is being taken further by Aqua=Terra Planetary Holdings, LLC with the Aqua=Terra T.W.I.N.S. (Trans-Web Infrastructure Network System) Projects, all to be done without taxpayer money. see: and

Despite all of the skeptical comments by those who likely live in fear and resist evolution, just know that this will get done with or without your permission and I would like to ask any of you if you actually think and believe that we can continue drilling for oil indefinitely without consequence? If so, you are greatly mistaken and living in the illusion.

Instead of complaining how things are and criticizing others innovations, do something, get behind something evolutionary and that we all need and will benefit from like the USA T.W.I.N.S. project that proposes to establish an advanced network of land-based (Terra) Bypass Stations at each US State Capitol and Washington DC, all of which would be interconnected by an advanced sub-ground tube=transport system and once completed, this would form a true United States of America with a single-standard transport system that is expandable into a global network with the link to the oceanic (Aqua) Bypass Stations network system.

Needless to say, the benefits are too long to list here even though the skeptics would always have something to say to protect their point of view and insecurities or just because they wish to seem extra intelligent to others.


Aqua=Terra Planetary Holdings, LLC

As long as we have terrorists or people with aggressive religious agendas, technology like this will never see the light of day in the United States. Perhaps in countries like China, or...well, that's probably the only country...will this ever see any kind of usage...and that's too bad really.


The basic concept is nothing new. Pneumatic tubes have been in use for about 175 years. In fact, in London, England one was created large enough to transport a man and was tested by the Postal System doing exactly that. In Prague, until floods damaged the system in 2002, they used it for decades over 60 Kilometres of pipes to also move mail. In Texas, it is use throughout an airport and it is even used elsewhere to move car parts. I used it in Montreal in 1960 to send money to a central cash desk, something it had been doing for more than seventy-five years at that point and my local chain grocery store which opened three or four years ago installed a system from the checkout lines to the central cash desk when the new tenants went to the bare walls of an old building and built the store. They are the silent transport one will talk much about them but they are everywhere hidden away where no one sees them. The basic idea is nothing new, just advanced like the helicopter after WWII which got its coceptual start with Leonardo Da Vinci. It just takes time and the right materials. We just happen to be in the "inbetween" period. I know it is coming I just do not know exactly when. The old subways are as close as we get so far. They too work well. Heck, we have to keep a few things for future generations to invent, don't we?


The cost per foot of this track would be astronomical.

Jon A.

raised tension cables holding rails are the cheapest. Costs about $50,000 / mile, stays straight due to the tension, and gets out of the way with fewer holes dug.

This is like a gazillion per mile. They should look at suspending the tubes from tension cables to improve costs.

Jeff Winkler

Too many failure points. Loss of passenger vehicle sealing = instant death. Large expensive project = target. Loss of braking control at 4,000mph = instant death and catastrophic explosion.

someone know how to calculate the energy released on impact of a 1200 pound object decelerating from 4000mph to 0mph in 0.25sec?

all i see is BOOM

Benji Roo

May not be practical for human travel, but we could certainly transport tons of US dollars to Beijing much faster and more efficiently...very much like the vacuum tubes in the old department preparing ourselves for our destined future.


As the supports are fixed to the ground,what will happen if an earthquake occurs?.

Sinnadurai Sripadmanaban

A technically superior solution - but not for our world.

For one hour confined in a tube you can't even stand upright in? You don't have to have claustrophobia to feel uncomfortable. Also, there are no attendants to calm you down. There are also no windows you could look out of, to fight your travel sickness.

Things won't get better if the first train will crash and the families will have to bury an empty coffin, because after a 6400 km/h-crash there isn't much left.

Then there is the risk of terrorist attacks. You can to some degree secure who is getting on a plane, but with this thing you'd have to secure hundreds of kilometers of "railway".

Finally, you'd have to negotiate a quite straight line from start to end. In China, this will be no problem. In western countries every second land owner will have either romantic feelings about the patch of land he has to sell, or is just sensing his opportunity to "blackmail" the rail company for any price far beyond worth.

So: Make the carriages 2,2 meters in diameter. Place pseudo-window-screens that show the exterior of the car. Make emergency-exits (as in highway-exit) where the cars can be extracted from the tube and safely slowed down. Make peace with terrorists. Overthrow democracy/capitalism. Then build the ETT


If this ever gets built, which I hope it will, the engineers would probably be best to start off with a cargo-only version until all the kinks are worked out of the design before making a passenger version. As for the threat of terrorism, I personally believe that a small pod confined to a track with only a couple of people inside and nothing explosive would be a tremendously smaller target than a free-flying airplane filled with hundreds of people and thousands of gallons of highly flammable jet fuel

Forward Thinker

One image shows a decidedly non human ergonomic travel accommodation. I can imagine the Elite, having to crawl to their riding seats. Think of the bug eyed screams of indignant protest. It looks like about the correct height for, say, sheep.

Earth quakes were mentioned. Zipping along inside a vacuum tube, at 4,000 miles an hour, calming your bejeweled Wife down, from the indignities she suffered, crawling to her seat, a rumble is felt. "Nothing to fear dear, God himself could not destroy this ride." A jolt is felt. Twenty miles away or so, the vacuum has long since failed, letting in torrents of sucked in air. Unless there are heat shields, serious compression bumpers..., your cramped little riding vehicle will slam into the air with rather amazing, startling results. Likely, you will not even know anything happened, as you stand at the Pearly Gates, wondering, "This is not Tokyo!..."


This is a great invention that deserves to happen, however it never will unless we can figure out a way to build it economically. One way to do this is to construct a nuclear powered tunneling machine that can swiftly melt its way through solid rock, using the melted stone to create the tunnel lining. These giant machines can follow the rock layers most suitable for tunnels and create tubes of much larger diameter as well. I think this is inevitable.


I have been hearing about this "game-changing" technology for a while now and am glade to see it go public. Great catch GIZMAG. This technology is rock solid with no gimmicks. It is a spaceship inside a tube in a vacuum like real space. Sell your stock in cars, trains, trucks and ships and buy ET3.


@noah: That would be a great idea, but it's not for this project. Any tiny little turn has quite shocking effects at 5400 km/h. You'd touch the wall, then boom. Not to mention the G-forces.

Basically this would be a great idea if we had absolute control over its' environment. Incorporating braking ability all through the track and placing air leak sensors could reduce the possibility of suction loss, and other commentors have suggested earthquake and other improvements... but really what it all comes down to is the speed multiplying the risk. Especially on a constantly changing surface.


Meddling, no one meddling with oil pipeline, adding capacity is matter of building larger tube, how is it differ from build a new air craft?


"Advocates of Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) claim it is silent, cheaper than planes, trains or cars and faster than jets."

... and a terrorist's dream.

Bob Tackett

With a large enough version of this, you could use it to "time travel" into the future. You would actually time travel, but could take advantage of time dilation. Build a complete vacuum tube that goes all the way around the earth and considering its a COMPLETE vacuume tube you could start to approach the speed of light after constantly building speed for quite some time. Then Just Stay in there for like 100 years... which from the point of view of the occupant would be Far less time... like a decade or so. Would be crazy if it was all transparent and you could literaly see building "pop" up outta nowhere


Won't happen there is nigh the will or foresight to make it happen, so drill baby drill, and we will be the cause of the next extinction event.


", Inc. believes that a reasonable speed for shorter trips is 370 mph (600 km/h). " This is about twice as fast as maglev trains but the difference is that except for the acceleration portion, very little energy is required and that some energy could be recaptured during the slow down process as with our electric hybrids. It could first be tried for distances of a few hundred miles on an experimental basis carying cargo.

Adrian Akau

Sorry, the potential for collision is massive, as is the need for +10G deceleration in order to make any sort of efficiency possible. The good part is that people would be younger at arrival than when they departed.


Wow, rarely have I seen such concentrated stupidity as in so many of the comments on this potential tool. Just to point out a few of the more obvious non-issues ... .

The design is maglev. The brakes are diodes and capacitors as are the accelerators. The walls of the passenger tube can be display glass as in a computer display. Interactive. We already routinely sit for an hour on airplanes as they prepare to takeoff. Longer at times. Sensors would be placed everywhere. Vacuum, blockage, moisture, sound, and systems.

There are design challenges and the evidence of that is that it does not yet exist but, none of them appear overwhelming to me. If I am king of the forest I might well suggest that the first year or two of use consist of cargo only so as to work out the bugs. The ocean does seem to present a problem. Some tunneling would be required because sharp directions changes at the design speed are a definite no-no. Overall, this looks cheaper than interstate to build. It addresses several real and potential issues. I would imagine that it will have to happen in China and India and perhaps South America first because there is simply too much institutional stupid in the USA to allow us to take a leadership position on anything except getting fatter and wasting more stuff.

Stephen Dupree

How is this going to reach Beijing? Unless Obama is planing on renaming Washington DC to Beijing, this is as far fetched as 1950's Sci-Fi. We can't even get a pipeline installed from the US to Canada to give us cheaper oil solutions.

Hey Michael Jordet...California is broke. You can't afford additional buses and trains let alone a Mag-Lev system that runs in a tube...


Tube good - Vacuum bad With extreme vacuum, any leak/disruption means disaster. 1852, Isambard Kingdom Brunell buitl a 52 mile pneumatic railway that in one accident may have gone 100 MPH. PTs are well proven, you trust your money to them at most bank drive-ins. Lets take it a step further: The graphic shows two opposite direction tubes. Envision them as a donut with the air movement in the same direction. Make them big enough to fit a capsule large enough for a standard shipping container. Flat top and bottom, rounded sides. guides at vertical middle of sides to mate with guide rails attached to inside of tube. Capsule has movable (front to back) round seal at bottom front, and same at top rear. If air is moving in the tube it will exert pressure on the bottom of the capsule to produce lift and vacuum on the top to also induce lift. A 50' capsule in a 10' tube with 1 PSI of pressure exerts that pressure over 500 sqare feet, 500 x 144 square inches = 72,000 pounds of lift. The vacuum from the front will also exert a similar lift. Movable seals (front to back) can balance the load, banked guide rails in the tube allow good speed, windows in capsule and spaced along tube (depending on speed like a movie reel) allow scenery, controllable vents front and rear of the capsule allow fresh air. Coanda nozzles powered by wave or wind power slow pollution.


We can't even get an oil pipeline built from Canada to Texas for fluid traveling 5 miles per hour. The formula for getting political decisionmakers beyond political inertia goes like this: 4,000 miles per hour = 4,000 years.

Daniel Pitton

Looks like a mega-expensive idea on the proposed scale - entirely and completely feasible otherwise, and I've wondered about this concept myself for a while.

Lets try building a city-city mag-tube first eh? And lets bear in mind that the world's most developed nation still has no transcontinental high speed rail, largely due to the dominance of air travel.

In comparison to an aircraft-based system, an aircraft needs no infrastructure to travel from one point to another except runways at either end - a mile of road will only take you one mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.

Building a transcontinental mag-tube system would be highly controversial, just look at the Keystone XL oil pipeline as an example.


I hope it'll accelerate at a more comfortable rate than airplanes. Still, the sooner the better. I'd be really awesome to see my aunt on Belgium in just over 20'. Imagine how convenient that concept would be for in-country transportation. If they make the tubes transparent, then it'll be even more awesome. And to be honest, I could live with half the speed. After all it still is insanely fast... Fingers crossed, we'll be travelling with this before we get old.


Wow, does this little website attract all types! sascha kremers-capitalism and democracy are the only ways to pay for such a project! Sorry, you commies won't build this. Make peace with terrorists? Why? So we can all live under Sharia law? I'll pass.

I think while it's certainly technically feasible, you're smoking something interesting if you're thinking of buying in. This will never get built, for one reason: a terroristic attack would render the entire system unuseable. Voiding the vacuum would cause any vehicles in the system to stop. Then what do you do? There's no motor to get them going again. Ooops. No thanks. Never gonna happen. Far, far to many uncontrollable variables.

Clay Jones

This vacuum tube should stick to short and medium distance travel and accordingly, slower speeds. For say, a 10 000 km trip (quarter of the globe) you are better off adding just 200 extra km and going into space and back. No need to build and maintain those tubes, no terrorist target, etc.


New York to Beijing ... Hmmmmm Even if we discount the inherent instablies of the west coast states of the USA, the wet bit between the coastlines might present the occasional problem. Should the evacuated tube be above the water, and if so how will it be supported some several thousand feet above the ocean floor? Should it be submerged, as it could then be tethered using cables to anchor points? Sunk deep enough it could be kept clear of surface shipping, so all there would be to worry about was the risk of an absent minded submarine skipper forgetting that it was there. Oh, and the occasional cetacean deciding that it was an amusing toy to play with. lwesson was concerned about the effect of air leakage producing some serious deceleration. Just imagine the effect of hitting water at 4000 mph!!!! The only learning experience that would be thus provided is how thin a human body can be spread.


Just use air, don't need mag-lev.


Nice to see someone other than myself has watched the educational channels on cable. KushSomka

Mark Keller

They stole me idea!!

But really, it's about time. Creating vacuums to travel makes so much sense energy wise and speed wise. I am curious why they can shoot for higher speeds. They could also make smaller versions for cargo transportation. For example Amazon packages being able to arrive in your city with an hour. They could really make any size they want. As well as sending cargo at higher speeds if the materials can handle the higher g forces with most can.

I do believe it would be possible to share the vacuum pipes with multiple vessels to make the system more practically cheap. They would need an advanced computer systems in order to avoid collisions and delays after they have that intercontinental or international trips could share the vacuum tubes with the computer making sure they they remain far away from each other. Also of course they would have to have interconnecting tubes with a line turning system similar to modern trains. Perhaps even with opening and closing hatches.


noah: I don't know if your idea is the coolest or scariest idea I have read on Gizmag.

Benji Roo, etc: 1/2m(v^2), however lbs are a measure of force, so you'll have to figure out the mass (in slugs or g). If we guess that this will weigh a metric ton loaded with passengers and luggage, and that it is set to go no faster than 1000 m/s (, then 0.51000kg1000m/s1000m/s = 5*10^7 J = about 119.5kg TNT, or about the same as the back of a truck loaded with fertilizer and gasoline. The capsule could be stopped at 10 g (civilians would black out at this force, but in an emergency it would be okay, but is probably about the max prolonged stopping force we can take) and could stop in 100 seconds having covered 100 km. You're welcome.

For all that, I would still take it if they built it. The magnetic field would probably be fairly minimal, and could be lowered with magnetic shielding (with 10" rare earth magnets capable of several thousand pounds of magnetic lifting force, the magnets are pretty straight forward). Nor is the "field going to (suddenly) fail" - use permanent magnets and a real superconductor and everything will be fine as long as the superconductor doesn't quench (get too hot). Even if it does get above Tc, it's reasonable to think the tube could be designed to provide "passive" eddy current stabilization. At these speeds you are unlikely to get "stuck" (at least over land) without catastrophic failure (your momentum should keep you going once you get past the station) so there is no point in worrying about stop locations. Several support designs could effectively damp and/or cancel even high magnitude earthquake waves, ideally combining active and passive components to reduce risk.

So, I think it's possible, and (as such things go) potentially even comfortable and reasonably safe. It isn't going to happen in the US though - we can't even finance a project to improve existing rail to go at normal "bullet train" speeds on our densely populated coasts - not in the interest of good investing, profit, or jobs and social welfare. All of our "innovation" is tied up in the financial sector (they invent more money every day, but still haven't done much to improve value) so I don't expect to see any inspiring projects that require more than one state's approval to get off the ground here in the next quarter century.

Charles Bosse

floating on the intervening ocean? or under the waves? Sounds ariyfairy inmho!

Walt Stawicki

This is a rather old idea and is very, very doable. The venerable founder of modern rocketry and designer of the liquid fueled rocket (copied by the Germans in WWII) Robert Goddard completed a major design version as his very last patented work in 1945.

Today besides the excellent ideas of ETT there is the very practical and SELF_FUNDING power distribution, and power storage plus transport system of Terraspan see seeking to attract volunteers to create that critical mass of interest.

The fascinating thing about Terraspan is that it begins making money before it is more then 20% built! It also turns North and South America into a single powerful manufacturing, agricultural and consuming market more then a billion strong and able to scale competitively against similar sized markets in China, India and Europe.

Terraspan will have such a major effect on transportation speed and cost in North America that it forces all the other world markets to come to the Terraspan consortium to build similar large vacuum transports interconnecting all the earths continents (including Australia) but Antartica (for now).


Sorry T.A. Nasir shipping does not work that way. What moves the most goods on this planet? Ocean shipping. Typical sped for said transport?


@Charles Bosse, thanks for getting back with the force equations that I failed to recall. Use it or lose it, right?

In any case, way too much boom for our present socio-econo-political system. Save it for the next Star Trek Movie, and then blow it up.

Benji Roo

imagine the load on the support structure if / when the tube varies even slightly from perfectly straight


One terrorist with a cheap ex-Soviet RPG could cause major havoc with this thing. Armed with a tube schedule and his RPG, pow! Highly dramatically splattered people.

Gregg Eshelman

Might be feasible if the tubes were only placed where they could float underwater about 500 ft. below the surface.

No tunnels or supports required, just floatation devices attached to the tubes.

Ideal for quick trips between continents.


Suborbital rocket gliders would be faster, cheaper, more pleasant, and probably safer.


Monorail, monorail ....


Hey this could work on the moon!!

when we do settle there of course.

they could also just have a huge tube pointing back to earth.. push and coast the entire way back dropping out in upper atmosphere and freefalling parachuting back to earth..

It's all possible in your imagination!

Karsten Evans

I can see it now, a continuous flow of Chinese products.

Mark A

I didn't read this article for long, just by reading the title. But this has been popular with many comments. Let me assure everyone that there will be no energy saving in this as the vacuum has to be maintained. Air seeps in continuously, there is no way of stopping it, massive amounts of energy will be used maintaining the vacuum. Second, at such high speed, there can be no action taken in an emergency, only instant death. If energy, electric costs are reduced substantially, along with manufacturing, this could happen. All but the centuries top natural disasters can be dealt with. The structure can be made strong enough to withstand crushing ocean water pressures. Despite all this, air will seep in. However, for now, a pilot project in a smaller area can be started. This isn't a new idea and has been around for centuries, using tubes or ramps for efficient transport of things.

Dawar Saify

Worried about terrorists ?

It is far more likely to be industrial terrorism !. Sabotage began when French workers dropped their wooden shoes(sabo) into the new fangled machines which were out competing them. In this case a machine operating at 4500 mph will not require human intervention, in fact if it is running in series cannot afford it with each train travelling at 75 miles pers second and most possibly 100 or more tubes in the pipe at a time, no human would be able to handle the time management, turnaround would have to be automated, If there are only 10 tube reciever stations and 100 tubes coming down the pipe you definitley cannot wait around for Granny to take her bags off the luggage rack. Passengers would likely to have their own personal pod and be isolated to make sure they do not do anything to each other or the tube and that pod itself be loaded and ejected at the start and end of the trip.


There is a project at for a system that looks exactly like this one except: 1. no vacuum (compressed air pushes the cars) 2. no maglev (Bernoulli forces give you levitation w/o issues and expense of superconductors) 3. slower speed "just" 200 mph intercity and 60 mph city 4. much cheaper (build able through self financing). He re purposes standard concrete culverts - no need to deal with liquid helium cooling issues/costs. The inventor (C. Johnson) suggests a network should ultimately go literally to your backyard; New York-Chicago trip should cost $5 and take five hours doors to doors.

I would like to see any third party opinion on this system, particularly on its levitation proposals. But hey, most objections to maglev system (vacuum, super-high speed issues, astronomical costs) are not a problem for a cheap pneumatic slow speed alternative.

By the way, trough-put of one pipe is more than 8 line highway: imagine all the road sprawl avoided.

What remains unsurmountable issue is "selling" it to the public and acceptance. America would be a MUCH different country with this system - called "Trans" - or even maglev ET3.


Have any of you seen the skydiver who dove from 31km above the earth? There was no air pressure meaning he was falling at over 1,000km/h but his clothes did not budge a bit, nor did he feel anything.

This would be some awesome technology to implement, but too many people have no faith.

'Oh it's not realistic.'

Is it really realistic for a huge bit of metal with wings to fly over oceans? No.. but thankfully the Wright brothers invented it (similar concept at the time, at least). Is it really realistic to hit a switch on a wall, and several metres away, a light bulb turns on? No.. but again, thankfully Thomas Edison didn't think so.

Please, people.. those who think OUTSIDE the square are the ones furthering this world, not you.

Also for those saying it leaves too much effect, costs too much to maintain etc.. do you really think it'll be that way forever? Look at technology these days. 5MB used to weigh literally 1 ton and needed a forklift to lift it.. now we can put pretty much 10,000 times that amount in a backpack.

Good luck to the technology, I'm eagerly awaiting it.


i see some here saying this is a boondoggle never to be seriously pursued? the morning after the wright bros flew plane at kitty hawk, the new york times front page advised "let's stop wasting time on this nonsense. this is a hoax in which they floated on wind only. the whole idea that man can fly in heavier-than-air machines is ridiculous!"

further, the head of the US patent office said at that time that there was no further need for a patent office as "everything that can be invented has been invented."

further, in 1987, bill gates said "64k RAM should be enough for anybody." and the CEO of IBM: "mom & pop americans are just not going to get into computers. this fad willl end with maybe half a million sales.

here, still hear the same tired old voices of reaction that 'alternatives to oil or uranium will take too long. we have to stick with the tried & true.' meanwhile, china says that it is on-schedule to be entirely alt self-sufficient by 2025... just a few years before API says no more oil & SRI says no more cost-effectively mined uranium...

well, guess it's back to candles & firewood?

Taz Delaney
Make the tube wide enough for a shipping container. Become cost effective through raw speed. ???? Profit.

Terrorism is a non-issue. This kind of thing would be built in wealthy/stable/secure countries. Start in Paris, pass through Northern Europe, Russia, then into China. All stable as far as I know, none want the embarrassment of terrorism on their turf. If they REALLY want security they could just wrap the tube in concrete. (heard somewhere you could ram an F4 Phantom into a nuclear cooling tower and just leave scorch marks)


Oil is not finishing anytime soon, there's much more left to be extracted and even more undiscovered, apart from uranium, thorium is left to be extracted. The US is not conquering the whole middle east without reason. Then solar panels will reach higher efficiencies, Even 45 percent efficiency readily manufactured will change a lot of things. Then there are immense peat deposits which continuously burn even right now. So energy is not the problem. If Reforestation can occur, the climate will also stabilise.

Dawar Saify

Markay, Taz: Great posts. To those pooh poohing vacuum: a full 40 years ago the Concord was cruising at 60,000 feet with a pressure differential between inside and out of very close to one atmosphere. Sure, it was no doubt using bleed air to top things up - but hey: nobody is saying the vacuum in the ETT will be perfect or maintaining itself.

And of course the thing will be tested before it is stuffed with humans. Albert the monkey and Laika the dog went into space before any chap with the right stuff had a crack.

Russ Pinney

It would seem that there are many people reading this piece and commenting who do not understand that all of the objections to vacuum maglev have been answered INCLUDING power loss and vacuum loss at full speed (about 4000 mph), that acceleration is continuous but very small up from local speeds and down to local speeds (30 MPH).

Furthermore underground installation while modestly more expensive is utterly impervious to terrorists, and weather. Oh yes, transport by the Terraspan Vacuum Maglev is lower in cost per lb/mile then any ocean transport at any speed other then zero i.e. drifting with the currents, tides and winds!

See Terraspan at and


So many armchair engineers and physicists ready to release their bitter pessimism upon an idea that involves scientific concepts that appears to go beyond their full understanding, especially when taking into account the art of implementation in the real world.

I can just imagine how they'd sound in the 80's upon hearing the idea of constructing the International Space Station:

"What a pie-in-the-sky idea! Clearly they haven't thought of micrometeorites, which are like bullets screaming through space that would pepper the hull of the space station with holes and kill everyone on board from the resulting depressurization!"


"This idea will never fly! Space is saturated with radiation and cosmic rays. All the astronauts would get cancer."


"There's no way all those nations will cooperate enough to achieve something on such a large scale. This will just turn into a giant money pit that fills bureaucratic pockets with money."


"Something something something TERRORISM something something something."


"The cost in launching and keeping in orbit such a massive object would be in the billions! It's never going to happen."

Thankfully the scientists and engineers of the time were working towards a progressive future, and so such uninspiring words of forebode fell upon deaf ears.

Granted, the vacuum tube concept does sound a bit like a "mono rail" scam, but if a$$-clowns aren't managing the implementation of the concept, perhaps it would be viable.


Expropriate vast strips of land, take wealth from those who create it and would otherwise use it to create more wealth and jobs, top it up with gobs of borrowed cash that future tax payers don't have a hope in Hell of paying off so they can live through a government default, build something that no developer would ever suggest unless they had idiot politicians in their pocket because it is financial suicide, subsidize ridership and cargo use so it looks like a success until the default which causes the subsidies to collapse... Did I miss a step? Stealing money and land to persue pet projects/white elephants is not progress. It is cruel and twisted and heartless.

When companies build smaller versions of these things without government stolen money simply because it makes economic sense, then I will consider this to be something other than building a toy train set with the salaries that would have been earned by the now unemployed. As progressive as North Korea.

Snake Oil Baron

Not including engineering, and land the tube for this would probably cost more than a Troy ounce of gold per foot. (31.1034768 g of gold per 30.48 cm)


This IS the way to do it, and will undoubtedly happen.

The only question is when.

All the naysayers seem to forget what a horribly inefficient, clumsy and risky technology we deal with every time we get on an aeroplane.

The great land areas of airports, with great long runways to take off, and even longer requirements for stopping. The huge amount of energy expended as we flounder up to a flying speed The greater amount of energy expended overcoming air resistance, and maintaining our lift through a fluid medium. The huge proportion of the payload that is fuel to power the journey. The clumsy circuitous routing of flights to avoid collision. The waiting and circling and energy waste of crowded landing schedules. The great waste of energy that is slowing down enough to land, then further in the scrubbing off of speed with brakes and reverse thrust. The risks of storms, air currents, downdrafts, icing, bird strike, mechanical failure. That we are sitting in an eggshell thin pressurized aluminium tube doing 600 km/hr at 10 km high – the emergency exits don’t help then.

What we have now works, but it is pretty inefficient use of the currently available technology.

Time for a new technology.

Mark Eastaugh

Dawar Saify - March 24, 2012 @ 02:06 pm PDT said:

" is not the problem..... If Reforestation can occur, the climate will also stabilise...the US is not conquering the whole middle east without reason..."

Sir, I agree with every word you say.

We have all these politicians and marketers selling us something and trying to program our thinking, when in fact the problems and their solutions are quite simple and straight forward.

Mark Eastaugh

Stephen M. Dupree - March 23, 2012 @ 10:49 am PDT said:

".....Overall, this looks cheaper than interstate to build. ...."

Stephan gets it: We don't see how clumsy are the technologies we now embrace as normal and advanced.

Stop and contemplate for a moment huge freeway overpasses in a city - thousands and thousands of tonnes of steel and concrete built to carry a few dozen humans at a time, each of them in their specially constructed, individualized, fuel burning machine, which is usually heading in the direction of a traffic jam.

Somewhere above, I (and others) have pointed out the clumsiness of air travel.

Our use of available technology now can only be described as woeful.

Disclaimer: I'm one who thinks the whole anthropogenic global warming thing is a hegemonic scam, and that it is smart use of technology (such as this!) will alleviate demand on our fossil fuel supplies.

Mark Eastaugh

Who knows if it will ever eventuate, but it would be cool if it happened.


A peer reviewed paper about ET3 was published in Journal of Modern Transportation:

If the link does not work search the term (in quotes) "doi: 10.3969/j.issn.2095-087X.2011.01.007" on Google.

Also, the objections of the several nay sayers are addressed in the first ET3 patent document (mentioned in this gizmag article). US patent 5,950,543 download it for free at:

The ET3 technology portfolio (now over 20 patents) is owned or licensed by the licensees of the open consortium. There are now 128 licensees (individual, experts, companies, and institutions) in 10 countries. Visit to learn more about the ET3 license and how to get involved in ET3 implementation.

All the objections (and more) raised by commenters have been addressed, and ET3 is in the process of implementation in Asia. Finally, ET3 is NOT a train. It operates much more like cars on a freeway, but at much higher frequency.

Daryl Oster

Hi AngryPenguin,

Search: "doi: 10.3969/j.issn.2095-087X.2011.01.007" In quotes on Google to download a peer reviewed paper about ET3 that explains why moving containers with ET3 is not cost effective. It is much better to move a pallet at a time of cargo with ET3 (at very high frequency), than to aggregate 30 pallets in a container.

Daryl Oster

Clearly...this SUCKS


What about plate tectonics? Wouldn't that pose long-term problems with the structural integrity of the tubes???

David Tesch

re; Russ Pinney

If a Concord or any other high altitude airliner blows out a window the pressurization system is capable of maintaining with the help of oxygen masks living pressure until the plane reaches an altitude with breathable air. An aloha airlines' 737 lost the top off a third of the fuselage with only one death. (A stewardess who was standing in the wrong place and was swept of the plane.) With this if a passenger pod leaks it can not be removed from the area of low pressure early. Decompression is not a pleasant death.


I am intrigued by the large swings of optimism and pessimism. And am glad for the rational commentary in between. Cost vs risk vs benefits. It's hasn't got much going for it. And comparing this idea with a plane is like comparing a train with a car. Trains are much more efficient but they just don't compare in flexibility.


Let me see if I have got this right. A long article about a proposed transport idea. Extremly costly, and highly unlikely of ever being built. Lots of comments about the mathematics of it. Lots of comments for it, Lots of comments against it. Every comment is someone expressing their own ideas about the article.

It is a shame that in this extremely technologial age, that the basic respect for someone else to hold to differing opinion to your own has been rejected and deleted from how people relate to each other. People are so caustic towards anyone who has a diifferent opinion. Yet at the same time they automatically expect their own opinion to be accepted as the pinnacle of intelectual thought on the subject.

No amount of narrow minded, intolerant, sarcastic vilification, will change anyones point of view, it will only reflect back on those who write that kind of comment. This problem is not only a problem here, but is a problem in every area of society, and every society. People now feel they have the right to make these kinds of comments.

Many forget that this is only an article about a proposed idea, and that it is good to read the for and against comments, both bring up valid arguments. Treat others the way that you would like them to treat you, even if they don't.


jonoxn - March 26, 2012 @ 04:05 am PDT

Said: "...Let me see if I have got this right.>>>"

Not really.

You are being over dramatic.

All in all, not a bad discussion, for and against.


The concept needs a decent pilot scheme, the North sea is shallow and Cities in the North and East of the UK are badly served in links to Europe, Perhap's there is more in a link between Edinburgh, Sunderland, Sheffield, London, Paris, Antwerp & Berlin, up the Baltic to St Petersburg. A much shorter run, with greater scope for profit. By the time the tube beween the US and China is built, China will not be accepting dollars and the US would not be able to afford the project. China would probably want one built between Moscow and Bejing instead.


Well this seems a bit iffy for human transportation, looks promising but the risks involved seem too high,plus i believe only a few transports would be available at a time, but this seems like a very efficient way to transport goods, as goods require less safety and commodity requirements. Plus it would greatly reduce energy consumption on goods which in turn the savings would pass down to the consumer.

Isaac Celestino

Who's going to clean up the mess when the Maglev fails and the car traveling at 4,000 mph stops moving instantly but the suckers inside don' least not until they hit the wall. Hasn't China had enough problems with this technology to make people understand that it is way too new for such an undertaking?


This is brilliant & about time...

Rex Alfie Lee

I'm dedicating my life to getting ET3 made. I know Daryl Oster very well and for the last year I have asked him all these same questions and all my concerns have been adequately answered. This will work and when it does I will be one of the first to ride it.

This is not science fiction. It is a reality. China has already built a short track ETT prototype and South Korea started a program 3 years ago. It is vital for the future of America that we lead the way in the development and manufacturing of this technology and not import it. In many ways this is a national security issue as well.

Nick Garzilli

"someone know how to calculate the energy released on impact of a 1200 pound object decelerating from 4000mph to 0mph in 0.25sec?

all i see is BOOM "

What´s the difference to a car at 100 km/h or a truck? In most cases that´s instant death too. So what? At least you have less human failure in a tube than on the roads today.

Nils El-Himoud

re; Nils El-Himoud

The size of the crater and haw many additional casualties there are.


RE SLOWBURN: Apparently most nay-sayers have not read the patent document referenced in the article. If they would read the patent and info on the and websites they would understand that most of the ET3 network will operate at 300mph to 500mph, and that the ultra-high speed developments will be in underground tunnels, and protected to a much higher degree. At 500mph an ET3 capsule has 3.8 kWh of kinetic energy. This is less kinetic energy than a 40 ton semi-truck operating at legal speed (about 5 kWh).

A single gallon of gasoline contains 36.6 kWh of energy. The typical car on the road has a tank capable of carrying more than 10 gallons of gasoline or over 366 kWh of energy that has the potential to be explosively released. A fully loaded (1200 lb) ET3 capsule traveling the maximum speed of 4,000mph has less than 250 kWh of kinetic energy. ET3 branches operating at over 1000mph will be underground. It will take more energy to make a crater deep enough to damage an underground ET3 system than would be released by the unlikely scenario emotionally articulated by "slowburn". (Why do all the nay-sayers use fake names? -- Are they hired by train, plane, or car manufactures to try to discredit viable alternatives?)

Dozens of experts that have examined ET3 concur that ET3 will likely be less than 1/10th the relative risk of a high speed train. High speed trains are less risk than commercial jet aircraft travel. Commercial jets have less than 1/15th the risk of travel by automobile. Travel by automobile is acceptable risk for most people on the planet, and cars are less risk on a passenger mile basis than riding a bike or walking.

Daryl Oster

@ Jeff Winkler....

3882069.7609566045 Newtons....

Joshua Willis

When I first learned (about five years ago) about “Trans” proposal (a pneumatic tube system with all other parameters almost identical with ET3, and even cheaper) I kept thinking: why on earth is nobody building it? Why was it not already built? (you could read on Trans page that by now everybody should have a tube in their backyard – had the project started as planned).

The longer I am here in the US the better I understand what the foul play is all about: vested interests defended by well-connected cliques of corporate lawyers and lobbyists. They would not allow anything that does not “pay” into their system first. Radical innovation and disruptive technology – ET3 is a prime example of one – is forbidden by the gerontocracy that runs this country (the 111 Congress was the oldest since the end of WWII ). We are talking not only about obvious lobbies of car, plane or train manufacturers and Big Oil who stand to lose their live-blood if there is a radical change to the mode of transportation. We are talking about a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AMERICA with this cheap, efficient and paradigmatically new system. The change would be at least as large but likely much larger than the mass introduction of cars in the fifties – and you know that it changed everything [I would add “for very bad” – as cars killed/smothered all other options – hey, not even a rail because of not-in-my-backyard planted deniers can be reestablished - but your opinion may vary]. If you could be everywhere cheaply in no time than there is no reason to pay big for “prime” real estate. The property speculators are DONE (and need to re-learn their trade). New York-size rents? Forget if you can commute from Syracuse or Pittsburgh in no time. ET3 would be a big equalizer – but nobody with vested interests in the status quo [mostly the rich old connected people] will want it. So they will dispatch “experts.” Hey…it is even difficult to imagine it would work – so why bother: everything in our old car exploitation system works so well and fine… You cannot kill the car! Car drives the “economy” !...and so and so. Vote for your future! More drilling will give you your well-deserved security! Clean coal!

This “space travel on Earth” is up against EXACTLY the same drag as America’s space program: for forty years stuck/neglected/starved/saddled with incompetent solutions (botched Shuttle). I am afraid in America, with 5% of world's population but 66% of world's lawyers, ET3 will just not fly. (New precept of the law: everything that is not already regulated is forbidden. “Too risky” experts – (above) – say. “Liability” lawyers say.)

One argument why Trans (or ET3) MUST be built is that it would, with efficiency increase, REPAY AMERICA’s DEBT. But only if America is the leader. For all of the above, that is much HARDER to achieve than “mere” well-functioning technology. Generations of space enthusiast whose dreams came to naught bear witness to that. Now (also because of that) America is in decline. America’s system is rigged.


skekoa, you are talking about the speed of sound at 1 atmosphere. Sound does not travel through a vacuum, therefor no shock wave to generate a sonic boom. nice try though.

Nelson Abreu

Imagine tube after tube full of pulverized moist pink goo after a catastrophic accident in the system. Whoa 0_o....


This doesn't seem practical for human transport, however, it would certainly be extremely useful in the transport of inanimate cargo, given that you don't have to worry about a stack of bricks (for example) getting violently ill, blacking out due to acceleration and deceleration quickly, or complaining about bad customer service.


RE: Cost Objections: Some reasons ET3 can be built for a tenth the cost of high speed rail (HSR) are: ET3 capsules weight less than 400lb empty yet carry 800 lb like a typical car or SUV, the cost per seat will be less than the $5k/seat cost of cars, or the $70k/seat of HSR, or the $460k/seat cost of a 747. Elevated ET3 structure uses 1/35th as much material to support 2 capsules passing at mid point (a maximum load of 2400lb), compared to two 100 ton locomotives passing on a bridge span. * ET3 can be built with automated production equipment that already exists to build pipelines all over the world.

Daryl Oster

ok for all those who keep saying cali. is too unstable what about just having it go thru alaska and then its just the short distaince of ocean to go thru or over. Or we can do what they already have plans for is build a bridge accross the ocean but put this tube on the bridge instead of cars using it and go thru russia and then to the rest of the world, then you wouldnt have to worry about long voyages over water or thru water.

The Bering Strait at it's narrowest is about 55 to 58 miles so its not a big distance


Nice idea, but... where are the toilets?


nehopsa, you make a number of insightful comments, however you don't understand our monetary system. If we "paid the debts" we would have no money! It's insane, but that's how it works. Instead of paying the debts, what needs to happen is that the debts get canceled, and fractional reserve lending, (the cause of the debt), is ended. However, as you so cogently point out, that too will never happen because of entrenched power.

Randolph Lee

This technology is mag-lev based. Ergo, it was more than possible since 1974. Back then we already had the ability to build vacuum tubes which would propel maglev trains at speeds of 6500 km/h.

Setting aside the moronic notion of 'cost' (money)... from a purely resource/technological point of view, I think a full system that covers the globe (if initiated on a global level in the first place) could be constructed in less than 10 years.

People... I think you should stop seeing things from a perspective of 'value' and 'costs'. Its high past time we start looking whether we can do something from a technological/resource point of view (and the answer is yes).

Money became obsolete in the early 20th century because we had the ability to produce abundance via technology back then along with renewable energy sources (like wind and geothermal). As for raw materials... simple: use pre-existing outdated (non used) tracks and trains which are to be harvested for materials (coupled with landfills that piled up all over the planet) and we don't have an issue (plus we don't have to extract new resources from the planet itself). To top it all off, we can automate a decent amount of this program (production industry is already mostly automated as is - it can be fully automated, and on a global scale, today's automation can easily take over for over 80% of the global workforce).

This project was doable since 1974... abundance since 1929. the monetary system and notions of cost/money are doing nothing but slowing us down because it takes DECADES for companies to implement (what became by then) OLD technologies in a cost effective (cheap) manner. Doing things 'cheap' has 0 reflection on technical efficiency.

Petar Posavec
114... put me in there with Demon Duck... let's get real... Ed Anderson of ... affordable and doable, but the real money for nothing guy's (aka... the insurance companies ) are never going to let it happen... in any way that matters... right now I 90 in Wisconsin is being expanded at a fiscal cost of $800,000,000.00 + and an environmental cost that makes me ill to think of... when Taxi2000 could go from the Twin Cities to Chicago at half the price and little or no environmental damage... DOH!!! alien678

Did someone invent a room temperature super conductor while I was sleeping?

Tom Sobieski

Crazy idea - too many variables!


RE: too many variables -- ET3 has fewer variables than a jetliner flying at 40,000 feet through a thunderstorm with hail.

Daryl Oster

I think this is a great project to build and prove it's feasibility. Most people on here are intent on finding fault with the concept but I would ask them to look at the benefits if this indeed workable. Sure there will be problems but each will probably addressed as they arise. I say go for it and I would be the first to invest in it.


Great Idea, well overdue I believe GB had a prototype Maglev in the 30's but the government killed it off as usual!

I agree with the earlier comment....make it big enough to take shipping containers.... you could then adapt some containers to carry cars, passengers,etc. with all facilities included.

The shipping of worldwide containers would certainly pay for the project much sooner than just fare-paying passengers plus think of the pollution saved by not using those giant oil guzzling containerships!

Paul Liversuch

It takes a certain amount of energy to do a certain amount of work. Meaning yes, you can use the engine from your econobox car to move a freight train, but is there really any benefit to doing so? You will use even more gasoline than Diesel fuel because the Diesel engine is so much more efficient at generating power than a gasoline engine. And the cost/complexity plus added time will surely put you in the red ink there. Put another way, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Someone, somewhere, somehow, is paying for it. Unless your lunch is a piece of ripe fruit dropping off a tree branch into your open and waiting mouth. But even getting to that tree is going to cost you some amount of energy to be in the right place at the right time. Miss it by even a second, and the fruit will be on the ground, where you have to bend over and pick it up. The cost of the infra structure and its maintenance will be so high, no one will see any gains from it. Except for the ones who supply them, they of course will profit quite handsomely for a short time.


Expanded Viewpoint

Paul Liversuch said: "make it big enough to take shipping containers"...

We thought that too until we closely examined the economics of ET3. Since ET3 is automated and the energy use is 98% less, the fare to recover the cost will be dominated by infrastructure (tube) cost. Most of the per mile (or km) cost of ET3 infrastructure is related to the diameter cubed (double the tube size and the cost is 8 times greater). It turns out the optimum tube size is about 5' (1.5m) diameter. Making ET3 big enough to accommodate sea-land containers would increase the cost by a factor of about 30, but only improve the utility from 94% (for a 1.3m diameter capsule) to 98% (for a standard shipping container).

The cost to use an optimally sized ET3 system will be about a tenth the cost of other modes. An ET3 big enough to move containers would cost about 3 times more than other modes. Let the 4% of items that will fit into a container (but will not fit in a standard ET3 capsule) go by other modes such as ship, truck, and train, that way all of the ET3 users will not have to pay 30 times more every time they use ET3 (let the 4% big cargo items pay 10 times more to be transported in containers as they are now).

Daryl Oster

Sign me up,I would ride er.but seriously we probaly need to scale it down a bit first,if it has a lot of merit it will spread within a decade

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