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Maglevs and Vacuum Tunnels


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I'm currently researching and planning experiments for a transportation method that uses magnetic levitation and a vacuum tunnel. My idea is to build a tunnel with no air inside it and have magnets on the floor and sides of the tunnel. A person goes in the tunnel wearing a space suit with extra metal on it. The person has a container full of compressed gas. When the container is opened, the person will be launched forward due to conservation of momentum. Because he's in a vacuum, there will be no air resistance to slow him down, and he won't fall because of the magnets.

 

Anyways, I have a few questions that I need to know the answer to in order to build on to what I have so far.

 

How does an airlock work? (so that when a person goes into the tunnel, none of the outside air gets into the vacuum)

 

How would the person stop moving? (I was thinking he could have another container with slightly less gas to slow him down, and then he grabs a handle on the wall, but I'd like to know if there are better ways)

 

Is there something wrong with my idea, or anything that probably won't work?

 

Please forgive me if this belongs in the Speculation section instead of here; this is my first post, so I'm unsure of where to place it.

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well, this idea has already been thought of, and to an extent implemented although not for human transport.

 

so to your questions:

 

1/ An airlock works by having two doors. only one of which can be open at one time.

 

You go in one door in your space suit, close the door and then all the air is sucked out by a vacuum pump, this will take a few minutes. then, when there is a vacuum, the other door will open and you can step through.

 

to exit the vaccuum chamber you just need to do the reverse.

 

2/ well you could point the gas cylinder in the opposite direction other than that some form of friction brake but really you don't want to be going down this thing in a suit rather a vehicle like a train which is what most ideas propose.

 

3/ yeah, there are a nuumber of problems with your idea and i'll warn you now, i'm going to go through the major ones and if you don't want to hear it then stop reading now.

 

a) normal magnets are hard to align so you have a stable field where an object can just sit there happily. what'll most likely happen when the guy gets in is that he flips over and gets pinned to the floor. The usual way around this problem is the use of superconductors in a magnetic field as they can remain stable.

 

b) you're leaving this up to the person inside who may be Mr S. Tupid, someone is going to mess it up and SPLAT! much better to have a train arrangement with a designated driver.

 

c) you could only transport one person at a time with the method you propose, a train could carry many people at the same time

 

d) your propulsion system is no good without a vast number of vaccuum pumps along the 'track' as otherwise the vacuum would be filled with spent fuel gas. you are already going to the trouble of building a magnetic track, why not just use magnetic propulsion too. you'll be able to go faster, able to stop quicker, won't have to carry propellant and you won't be destroying the vacuum.

 

it is an interesting idea and most people who think about it go for a more massive scale. some have even drawn up plans (feasible, could be put into action tomorrow plans) for such a train/tunnel system to cross the atlantic ocean.

 

The big barriers for this are cost and that there are no known room temperature superconductors.

 

EDIT: whoops, lopped part of my post off by accident

 

Yeah, so keep thinking about this, it's an awesome idea and i'd love to take a trip on a vacuum train but also think more about safety, reliability, costs and so on. not only will this allow you to come up with better ideas, but it could also net you a bit of cash on the side if you're lucky.

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benedictusk; The two biggest things I have found in doing something like this are you need to explain why it is better than what exists and is it economically feasible. There are a few maglev trains like the ones at Disney World but they are pretty expensive to build, maintain, and operate. Putting a price on whatever one is looking to do for this I have found to be an interesting exercise.

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insane_alien: Thank you for pointing all that out. I am still finding even more problems on my own, which I hope to fix. Anyway, here are my ideas for the problems you pointed out:

a) My idea was that the magnets only repel the person (though I'm not sure this is possible) to keep him in the air. I will do some more research on magnets and superconductors and see what I come up with.

b) I was actually thinking about this earlier today, and my new idea is that the tanks with gas release the gas automatically when the person's in the right position and the container is pointing in the right direction. As for the person slamming into a wall; I don't think this will happen because the person can't control where he goes in the vacuum. He has the momentum from the initial launch, and after that, the magnets should guide him.

c) I have a couple reasons for choosing this method over a train:

1. I don't know the costs of these things, but I think that launching individual people with a gas that gets reused (see my answer to d for how this works) is cheaper than propelling a train using electromagnets.

2. Launching individual people means no waiting for a train. A person goes in, launches, and five seconds later the next person goes.

3. This method is more efficient than a maglev train because you don't need to keep using energy to move forward. For a maglev train to move, energy is constantly used in electromagnets that propel the train forward, whereas in my method, after releasing some gas, you can go on at the same speed no matter how far your destination is.

d) I forgot to mention this in my original post: in the tunnel, near each entrance, there is what is pretty much a vacuum cleaner, which will suck up the gas and send it through a tube to be reused by the next person.

npts2020: Read my answer to part c

 

This is another problem that occurred to me (I'm trying to come up with a solution, but suggestions would be really helpful): After launch, the person may start flipping over as he goes forward. Apart from a chance of the person vomiting, this will make it very hard to stop using the system I proposed earlier.

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First off, thanks for the refreshing change. Most newbies around here throw a hissy fit when the realise people aren't bowing down and worshipping at their feet when the present an idea they've had.

 

You realise its got its flaws and that they can be fixed and you are willing to fix them. This is the right attitude, this will lead to interesting discussions that actually move forward and make your ideas better as well as allowing you to learn more.

 

once again, Thank you!

 

insane_alien: Thank you for pointing all that out. I am still finding even more problems on my own, which I hope to fix.

 

Yep, i was trying to limit the problems to showstoppers rather than detail bugs which should be left to the final stages of design.

 

a) My idea was that the magnets only repel the person (though I'm not sure this is possible) to keep him in the air. I will do some more research on magnets and superconductors and see what I come up with.

 

The problem with magnets is that they have two poles whether they are permanent magnets or electromagnets. It is exceedingly difficult to keep an object levitated by them stable as it'll want to flip over and get closer.

 

It's possible, but it would be difficult. with a super conductor, all you need to do is clamp it in place while the magnets are off, turn on the magnets, wait till they reach full strength and then release the clamp and its done. it won't flip it won't fall and its simply done.

 

b) I was actually thinking about this earlier today, and my new idea is that the tanks with gas release the gas automatically when the person's in the right position and the container is pointing in the right direction. As for the person slamming into a wall; I don't think this will happen because the person can't control where he goes in the vacuum. He has the momentum from the initial launch, and after that, the magnets should guide him.

 

Well the automated gas release is a step in the right direction. much safer than leaving it up to the traveller who, unless there is some sort of vacuum tube license scheme going around, may never have been in one.

 

as for the slamming into the wall, i meant the end of the tube. motion in a vacuum is counterintuitive to humans as we are familiar with friction and not familiar with no friction. if you leave it too late to start releasing gas in the other direction then you could hit the end of the tube at high speed. with an automated system this is countered is suppose.

 

c) I have a couple reasons for choosing this method over a train:

1. I don't know the costs of these things, but I think that launching individual people with a gas that gets reused (see my answer to d for how this works) is cheaper than propelling a train using electromagnets.

 

the trains, while more expensive per unit would require a lot less units than individual suits. plus, there are existing technologies widely used that could work as a train. modifying an airliner hull to make it airtight and fitting a magnet system would do it.

 

And in keeping with the aircraft, there is a reason they don't just give you a private plane when you go to take off. it would require more units, more fuel and less profit. If they can bang you all in the one with limited legroom, PROFIT!

 

with your system, the cost of the things travelling down it is going to depend on the surface area that needs to be vacuum tight. so, we have two situations small one man vessels or multi man trains. for the sake of arguement and simple maths, we will assume that they are cubes(although this applies to any shape.

 

The volume of a cube is l^3 where l is the length of one side. the area of a cube is 6l^2. as volume is what would allow you to carry more people and surface area is what increases your costs, we'll divide the surface area by the volume.

 

6l^2/l^3 = 6/l

 

this shows us we have a non-linear relationship between cost per person and size. as l gets bigger, the cost per passenger gets smaller. a two person carrier will approximately half your costs, a four person carrier would quarter them etc.

 

this is what i was driving at.

 

2. Launching individual people means no waiting for a train. A person goes in, launches, and five seconds later the next person goes.

 

it also means congestion. a regular train service would be able to carry more people as they'd be closer together. it also means there is more room for error. one every five seconds is fine for a flume(i am informed that these are called waterslides in the US) but not for a transportaion system. to carry on the flume analogy, there is always the tubby kid that gets stuck. in any major system you WILL have breakdowns and mistakes. It could be a stuck valve, or maybe someone didn't fill up the tanks right but eventually one won't make it up to full velocity and the next person is going to slam into them at quite a high speed.

 

3. This method is more efficient than a maglev train because you don't need to keep using energy to move forward.

 

you don't need to expend any energy after you have accelerated with a maglev either. well, appart from the electro magnets to allow levitation which you'll have as well, permanent magnets just aren't strong enough.

 

For a maglev train to move, energy is constantly used in electromagnets that propel the train forward, whereas in my method, after releasing some gas, you can go on at the same speed no matter how far your destination is.

 

the reason a maglev needs to keep expending energy is because of air resistance. but remember, we don't have any air resistance here so the maglev only needs to expend energy when it is accelerating just like your system releasing a gas to accelerate.

 

d) I forgot to mention this in my original post: in the tunnel, near each entrance, there is what is pretty much a vacuum cleaner, which will suck up the gas and send it through a tube to be reused by the next person.

 

yes, you'll need vacuum pumps to maintain the vacuum(pipes are leaky, you'll never get a vacuum that'll last.) but you won't recapture all the gas in any reasonable amount of time. most of it will expand up the tube with the traveller. you'd maybe get 10% of it back in time for the next guy. but getting all of it would take weeks.

 

Even without releasing gas for propulsion, you would still need pumping stations every few kilometers just to maintain an even and good vacuum. with the propulsion gasses you're going to need a lot more of them to maintain a good enough vacuum.

 

This is another problem that occurred to me (I'm trying to come up with a solution, but suggestions would be really helpful): After launch, the person may start flipping over as he goes forward. Apart from a chance of the person vomiting, this will make it very hard to stop using the system I proposed earlier.

 

well, ideally your magnetic levitation system would counter that (otherwise you get the pinned to the floor situation). but other than that, use a stabiliserthat sticks out the front and back and is repelled by the magnets like the anti-roll bars you get on dragracers and so on.

 

a train wouldn't need those as it has a long length anyway that would provide stability.

 

once again, thanks for being a rational human being

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I see why a train would be better than launching individual people, so I'll do some research on previously made plans and see if they can improved or made less expensive. I'll probably still mess around with my idea a little bit, but I'm going to concentrate on perfecting the train method, as this is what appears to work better.

 

Questions:

Is there temperature in a vacuum, and what is it? How expensive would it be to cool superconductors in a vacuum so that they work?

Depending on the cost of cooling superconductors, it may be better to use electromagnets to get the train to start moving and permanent magnets to keep it levitating. I did some research and found that there is a maglev train in existence that uses permanent magnets called the Inductrack, in which permanent magnets are positioned in a Halbach Array, which creates a stable magnetic field. Here is a link.

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I see why a train would be better than launching individual people, so I'll do some research on previously made plans and see if they can improved or made less expensive. I'll probably still mess around with my idea a little bit, but I'm going to concentrate on perfecting the train method, as this is what appears to work better.

 

this is a good idea, you'll also see how they deal with other problems not mentioned yet.

 

Questions:

Is there temperature in a vacuum, and what is it?

 

the vacuum itself does not have temperature but objects in it do and they will be giving off thermal radiation which will be the main method of heat transfer between the train and the walls.

 

How expensive would it be to cool superconductors in a vacuum so that they work?

 

while there isn't enough information for an exact answer right now, it shouldn't be too bad as long as the supports as sufficiently thermally insulated. liquid nitrogen isn't so expensive and we have superconductors that can operate in that sort of range.

 

Depending on the cost of cooling superconductors, it may be better to use electromagnets to get the train to start moving and permanent magnets to keep it levitating.

 

permanent magnets of the strength and quantity needed would be very very expensive and likely take decades to manufacture and use up our supplies of neodynium(its not called a rare-earth metal for nothing). electromagnets are cheap and you only have to turn on the sections of track being used at that time.

 

I did some research and found that there is a maglev train in existence that uses permanent magnets called the Inductrack, in which permanent magnets are positioned in a Halbach Array, which creates a stable magnetic field. Here is a link.

 

The inductrack will cause magnetic drag slowing the train down if there isn't active propulsion being used. and as it gets slower the drag will increase. so it isn't without its problems.

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I did some research and found out a bit of information on the theoretical Transatlantic Tunnel. The main problems, leaving cost out of the way for now, seem to me be the unstable conditions underwater. The construction plan I see most often is placing large anchors in the sea bed and using tethers to tie the tunnel (made of a buoyant material) to the anchors. However, ocean currents would cause the tunnel to sway and this might cause a train running inside to go off course. The other plan is a tunnel lying on or under the seabed, where the effects of currents would be minimal. However, all these plans put the tunnel at risk of underwater earthquakes. I think it would be best to build the first vacuum tunnel in a calmer body of water than an ocean (perhaps from Florida to Mexico through the gulf of Mexico) or on land (perhaps a transcontinental tunnel from New York to California, following a similar track as the transcontinental railroad).

 

Because of the problems with permanent magnets, the best thing would be, like you said, superconductors to keep the train levitating. Electromagnets will be used to propel at first, to stop it, and there should probably be some placed along the track in the case of an emergency.

 

Are there any other known problems that might occur with a vacuum tunnel running through one of the paths I proposed?

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actually the oceans are pretty calm at the depths proposed for the tunnel. it would be anchored not much different to how floating oil rigs are and they are remarkably stable even in severe weather. any sway woul be on a large enough scale that it would not be noticable and easily handled by the lateral guiding magnets

 

a tunnel on the sea bed would be a terrible idea. for one it would have to withstand MASSIVE pressure differences, about 450 bar. that would make it pretty costly. even some pretty advanced submarines cannot get that deep.

 

The electromagnets would have to go for the full extent of the track, you need magnets to levitate your superconductor(a track of superconductor wouldn't work so well and would be orders of magnitude more expensive to install and maintain).

 

with a vacuum tunnel on land, you biggest problems are where it is running(not so much a problem if it is buried or elevated) through. it'll likely disrupt the local migration patterns of animals.

 

and another one is accidents or even the remote possibility of a deliberate attack. it wouldn't take much to flood the tunnel with atmosphere which could potentially destroy a train if it hits the gas when travelling at high speed.

 

another problem of land based track is that the tunnel should be kept very very straight with only slight curves for corners to enable the trains to go as fast as possible. this is much harder to do on land and would likely increase costs a fair bit.

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By "on land" I meant underground. Sorry for not being clear about that.

I did some more research and here are some conclusions:

An underwater transatlantic vacuum tunnel would not be a good location. First of all, it is much harder to build a tunnel underwater than underground. Secondly, a tunnel that long would take at least several decades to build, and possibly more than a century. Finally, the tunnel's cost is estimated to be in the trillions of dollars, and the cost for maintaining it would be quite high, as well.

I think that the best location for a vacuum tunnel would be underground or through a smaller body of water. For the underground tunnel, I would suggest from New York to California (about 1,500 km shorter than the transatlantic tunnel).

I think that the increase in cost for keeping the tunnel straight on land would be about the same (or less) as the increase in cost caused by the challenges of making the tunnel underwater. These extra costs include the anchors and tethers, the price for ships needed to carry the parts out to the ocean, getting water out of the tunnel, and probably some more.

 

I was also thinking about how the train traffic would be organized and most of the time when looking at designs for the transatlantic tunnel, I found that the plan was to have two tracks for trains going in opposite directions and a turn at each end of the tunnel. However, I think it would be better to have just one track with a single train that starts, stops at the end, and goes back. This would make the project cheaper as it eliminates the cost of a second track and doesn't require a large turn at each end of the tunnel. This is also safer than having several trains. The downside of this is a longer waiting time for the train, but considering the fact that the time it takes the train to get from one end of the track to the other is a little over 40 minutes (if the train goes from New York to California at 6,000 km/h), there isn't too long a wait time (probably shorter than what you wait at an airport), and a train schedule will prevent people from arriving too early.


Merged post follows:

Consecutive posts merged

EDIT: Just noticed a new problem with an underground tunnel.

The tunnel would probably be made by digging, but then steel and concrete tunnel parts would have to be placed inside what was originally dug because air will get in otherwise. This would mean that building an underground tunnel would require all the materials of building an underwater tunnel plus digging and somehow finding a way to get them underground.

Edited by benedictusk
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Sorry, but work has been taking its toll on me lately so i just haven't really had the energy to respond yet. i had a day where i basically sat in a chair and wated a little machine go beep every ten minutes today so i'm feeling fidgety.

 

Well, you noticed that an underground tunnel would have a few difficulties, namely you still need a pressure tight liner and so on. But you are wrong about the underwater tunnel being hard to construct. it would be very easy. what you do is you build sections of it on land, in a drydock then float them out to sea, join them up and then sink the tunel to the desired depth, anchor it and bobs your teapot.

 

yes it would take a long time and cost a lot but not as much as boring a transcontinental tunnel.

 

The thing about rocks is that they're hard to go through. Much harder than water and you have all sorts of different types of rock, and then there are fault lines and so on and so on. The boring of the tunnel would take much longer than constructing a transatlantic tunnel. That could probably be accomplished within 20 years. 40 considering beurocratic red tape. tunneling across the US would take 50 or so and serve less purpose(its easy to travel over land, you have many options travelling across a stretch of water leaves you with less options).

 

As for traffic management, a looped tunnel and multiple trains would be the way to go, you talk about large loops at either end, but they wouldn't need to be very large at all, the solution is to just put the train round them at a slower velocity. they needen't be bigger than a loop of standard railway track. multiple trains too, its 40 minutes both ways remember, thats a 1 h 20min gap between departing and arriving trains not to mention the problems caused by time zone differences.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sorry for not replying in a long time. I got back to school from vacation and got piled with tests and homework. Also, I my Physics Research teacher told me that too many people in the class wanted to research maglevs in vacuum tunnels, so it won't be my research topic anymore. However, it still interests me and I will be doing a bit of research on it, but I will have to concentrate more on my new topic.

 

I still have a couple more questions on how the underwater tunnel would be built:

1. How would each tunnel part be connected?

2. Each tunnel part is closed on both ends (according to a video I saw about the theoretical transatlantic tunnel) so that no water gets in. How would these walls be removed once the tunnel is put together?

 

Due to the cost of a transatlantic tunnel, I was thinking of a location for a shorter tunnel. Perhaps from Florida to New York?

 

Also, I thought of a way to solve the problem of where the gas goes in my design with individual people. Before launching, the person attaches the gas tank to a large metal container inside the tunnel. The gas is released into the container, which is closed after the gas is released. The container leads the gas outside the tunnel to a storage where it can be reused.

The problem I see with this is that after part of the gas is released, the person will move forward a bit, and the gas tank will no longer be attached to the container, so some gas will escape into the tunnel.

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Personally I have only looked at transit using vehicles, so I can't answer many of your questions. However, when building a tunnel, you have to be able to pump out water from leakage, rain etc. and the same pumps would be used to pump it dry in the first place. Each section has some kind of seal to minimize leakage and only some construction methods require that the ends be sealed since you can pump the water out once it is completed.

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npts, given the nature of this tunnel, pumping water out will not be an issue. in order for the tunnel to function, the vacuum needs to be relatively hard. well below the vapour pressure of any water leaking in.

 

the vacuum pumps that are necessary for maintaining the vacuum would be able to handle it.

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  • 1 year later...

i assume that a full vacuum is prohibitive but has anyone done cost estimates on maglev/partial vac tubes, presumably a bit of gravity assistance for accelerating/breakingwould be helpful and stations could all be elevated?

 

 

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partial vacuums help, but to get better efficiencies than an aircraft, you'll need a hard-ish vacuum.

 

i mean, its not going to be LEO levels of vacuum but below a millibar.

 

there will be an optimal point but that will be dependant on quite a number of factors such as the geometry and target velocity of the train.

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to get better efficiencies than an aircraft, you'll need a hard-ish vacuum.

 

Interesting...would it really have to be below a millibar to be more efficient than aircraft? Few planes fly at an alttiude of 50km? How do you work out the maths exactly?

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Interesting...would it really have to be below a millibar to be more efficient than aircraft? Few planes fly at an alttiude of 50km? How do you work out the maths exactly?

 

no, not many planes would fly at 50km but generally the whole point of putting the maglev in a vacuum tube is to eliminate the problems of going supersonic. this means you have to get the pressure low enough that the shockwave generated is not going to add any significant stresses to any part of the system.

 

at 100Pa you're starting to get a mean free path you can measure with a ruler (well not quite as its still about 0.01mm) but on the scales we're talking about it means the shockwave is going to start getting a bit fuzzy.

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Ok...I had assumed that you would still get big efficiency improvements you were sub-sonic and it would probably cost a lot lot lot less....and get from the centre of London to Glasgow in less than an hour......if we were really cost focused and innovative, plastic tubes, elevated stations etc, I wonder if it could be done for less than £30mn per mile and hence get it done below the £13bn for the West Coast mainline upgrade?

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok...I had assumed that you would still get big efficiency improvements you were sub-sonic and it would probably cost a lot lot lot less....and get from the centre of London to Glasgow in less than an hour......if we were really cost focused and innovative, plastic tubes, elevated stations etc, I wonder if it could be done for less than £30mn per mile and hence get it done below the £13bn for the West Coast mainline upgrade?

 

 

 

 

If the cost of the West Coast mainline (train track, I assume) upgrade is estimated at 13 billion, I'm sure a vacuum tube/maglev construction will cost many times that amount. Your talking about massive amounts of new infrastructure and an enormous amount of equipment that isn't "off the shelf" but is unique to this project. "Unique" means "more expensive".

 

Chris

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If the cost of the West Coast mainline (train track, I assume) upgrade is estimated at 13 billion, I'm sure a vacuum tube/maglev construction will cost many times that amount.

 

I agree that it probably would be a lot more expensive than the West Coast Mainline but saying it will cost many times does not really tell us much....from a materials perspective I could conceive it costing less...hence the under £30mn per km challenge. With creative thinking I am sure we can develop lower cost solutions, hence why we should look at partial vacuums and lower speeds. I wonder if an X prize would be a sensible way to stimulate research ie a prize for a team that was able to develop a system that would cost below £30 mn per km....we all know that projects led by large organisations particularly governments suffer from cost inflation hence the focus on would be the lowest cost system possible.

 

 

Your talking about massive amounts of new infrastructure and an enormous amount of equipment that isn't "off the shelf" but is unique to this project. "Unique" means "more expensive".

 

Chris

 

It is not true to say that because it is a new infrastructure it will necessarily be more expensive. The West Coast Mainline was in part incredibly expensive because it was an upgrade of existing infrastructure. Even at the massively over budget level it did not deliver the orginal specification. £13bn delivered a marginal increase in speeds. By contrast a NEW line to Metz cost below £2.5bn at the exchange rates of the time (so a bit more than half the cost per km of the WCM upgrade) yet has top and average speeds at nearly twice that of the upgraded WCM.

 

If Vacuum-Maglev cost say 6x the price per km of the Metz TGV (a complete guess) then we would be looking at a project that cost 3x the WCM but would be giving far greater value. If it is likely to cost 60x as much then clearly it is a non-starter.

Edited by Eelpie
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I think you can get a fair idea of the type of system you're thinking about here: http://www.swissmetr...content/details

 

This SwissMetro site has links to pages on the technology, safety, cost ("Kosten"), etc. The cost in 1997 Swiss francs was estimated to be about 25 billion Swiss francs for about 400 km of line (about 62.5 million Swiss francs per km). If my math is correct, this works out to about 102.6 million Swiss francs per mile. At a current exchange rate of 1.42 Swiss francs per pound Sterling I think this amounts to about 72 million pounds per mile. Keep in mind that this is a very preliminary 14 year old estimate made by proponents of this project.

 

Wikipedia also has a short entry on this project: http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Swissmetro

 

Chris

 

Edited to add cost per mile.

Edited by csmyth3025
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If the cost of the West Coast mainline (train track, I assume) upgrade is estimated at 13 billion, I'm sure a vacuum tube/maglev construction will cost many times that amount.

 

Using current technology probably yes but my challenge was to focus on the cheapest way possible of implementing a solution. Would it theoretically be possible to get the per km cost down to WCM levels or are the materials required inherently so expensive that it will always cost a multiple?

 

Your talking about massive amounts of new infrastructure and an enormous amount of equipment that isn't "off the shelf" but is unique to this project. "Unique" means "more expensive".

 

 

New infrastructure can often be cheaper. The WCM was expensive partly because it wasn't new (it was also expensive because of bungling bureaucracy). The TGV line to Metz cost around half as much on a per km basis even though it was completely new. It became the fastest line in France (despite already having the fastest lines in Europe) and ended up nearly twice as fast as the WCM.

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Using current technology probably yes but my challenge was to focus on the cheapest way possible of implementing a solution. Would it theoretically be possible to get the per km cost down to WCM levels or are the materials required inherently so expensive that it will always cost a multiple?

 

 

 

 

New infrastructure can often be cheaper. The WCM was expensive partly because it wasn't new (it was also expensive because of bungling bureaucracy). The TGV line to Metz cost around half as much on a per km basis even though it was completely new. It became the fastest line in France (despite already having the fastest lines in Europe) and ended up nearly twice as fast as the WCM.

If I'm travelling in a tunnel at ~500 km/hr with a very complex system of equipment and infrastructure ensuring my safety, I won't be comforted by the knowledge that my mode of transportation was implemented using "...the cheapest way possible..."

 

If the government is involved in the construction and operation of the system, bungling bureaucracy is almost guaranteed.

 

Having said that, I would like to stress that I actually like the idea of a maglev/vacuum tube transportation system. It's just that I don't think proposing it as a cheaper alternative is very realistic. Convincing the bureaucracts, politicians, and the public that spending more money for an innovative (aka: no track record for cost of construction and operation and no proven reliability) is the show-stopper. It can be done, but the convincing is a big hurdle to overcome.

 

Chris

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Apologies for replying twice last time (terrible internet connection and thought my previous post hadn't worked).

 

The Swiss system involves excavating tunnels rather than building say overground plastic tubes. Clearly the former is sensible for a mountainous country like Switzerland but wouldn't tubes laid overground be cheaper in the UK? Are there cheap materials which would withstand the necessary pressures?

 

"If I'm travelling in a tunnel at ~500 km/hr with a very complex system of equipment and infrastructure ensuring my safety, I won't be comforted by the knowledge that my mode of transportation was implemented using "...the cheapest way possible...""

 

Fair enough!

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