Just the thought of traveling from New York to London brings on the jet lag. But imagine a world where the journey could take just over an hour, allowing you to leave the United Kingdom at noon and arrive in Manhattan at 8 a.m. the same day. Sound too good to be true? Not according to engineers behind the “vactrain.”
All it takes is sucking the air out of a transatlantic tunnel, just like a vacuum. Robert Goddard designed a prototype over 100 years ago, with the idea of zipping people from one U.S. city to another. But, they haven’t been fast enough, or economically feasible.
The BBC reports, however, that the newest vactrains could travel to speeds of up to 2,500 mph. In comparison, today’s high-speed rails tend to travel at just under 200 mph. All it takes is the combination of technology with some magnetic levitation.
MIT’s Ernst G. Frankel, emeritus professor of mechanical engineering and ocean engineering, experimented with “evacuated tubes” in the 1990s, according to BBC. What Frankel proposed was a Boston-to-New York vactrain that would take 40 minutes, as opposed to the standard four hours we spend swearing at the Wi-Fi on any BoltBus.
Unfortunately, Frankel’s vactrain wouldn’t have sped past the existing bullet train technologies from Japan and China. But he does still think this is what we need. “Our rail technology is almost 100 years old,” Frankel told the BBC. “Our airways are becoming terribly congested, and getting to, from and through airports is very time consuming.”
American engineer Daryl Oster has developed a six-person capsule that boasts possible speeds of up to 4,000 mph. He calls it ET3, describing it as “space travel on Earth.” How else could you describe something that could reportedly get you from New York to Beijing in two hours?
Oster told the BBC the train could be ready in less than 10 years. If the work moves as fast as the trains do, however, maybe we could be zipping around on these things within the next five.
Alright, maybe not, but a girl can dream, right?
Here is a video of the ET3.
Photo Courtesy of ET3