Korail Hyper Tube trial

‘Hyper Tube’ train model hits 1,000km/h

Image credit: Korea Railroad Research Institute

South Korea’s Korea Railroad Research Institute (Korail) has announced that its “Hyper Tube” train test model has reached a speed of at least 1,000km/h.

The Korail research institute developed a 1:17 scale test model to test the concept. The Hyper Tube train is intended for use in a near-vacuum tube and accelerated using powerful magnets.

According to Korail, its miniature model reached a top speed of 1,019km/hr at 0.001 atm (far lower pressure than has been achieved in any comparable test) during this week’s test. This is around the speed of aircraft designed for transcontinental flights and twice as fast as the fastest ground transport currently available, maglev trains.

“We have overcome the problem of vehicle driving obstacles caused by rapid acceleration driving friction in the accelerator section of the aerodynamic test system and exceeded the speed of 1,000km/h,” said Korail in a statement.

Korail has been working on the Hyper Tube train project since 2017 and its previous top speed was 714km/h. It is planning to develop the technology further in order to begin full-scale track and vehicle development in 2022.

There are ambitions that Korail and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies could deploy a full-scale hyper-tube network by 2024, cutting the journey time between Seoul and Busan from 3.5 hours to around 30 minutes

The Hyper Tube train concept shares some similarities with the Hyperloop concept popularised by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, which involves a pod containing people, cars or cargo being accelerated to aircraft speeds within a network of tubes containing a near-vacuum in order to minimise air resistance.

Earlier this week, Virgin Hyperloop (formerly Hyperloop One) completed the first ever hyperloop journey with passengers on its test track in the Nevada desert, following 400 tests without passengers over the past three years. The two passengers – Virgin Hyperloop staff Josh Giegel and Sara Lucian – took approximately 15 seconds to travel the length of the 500m test track.

Addressing concerns that Hyperloops could pose serious safety threats, the company said that riding in their pod is as safe as riding in a lift, with a sophisticated control system which can detect abnormal states and immediately trigger an appropriate emergency response.

Countries which have expressed interest in rolling out Hyperloop-like infrastructure include the UAE (Dubai-Abu Dhabi), Saudi Arabia (various routes), the UK (various routes) and India (Mumbai-Pune).

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