Trains and planes have shrunk the globe and pushed the limits of long-distance travelling speed over the last decades. Now, two exciting concepts could shrink it further: the Hyperloop train and next generation supersonic planes. With the Hyperloop aiming at USD 20 per ticket, it could complement or even replace conventional trains and planes as the common means for long-distance travel.
The Hyperloop (introduced by Elon Musk) depicts a land-based high-speed transportation system that propels passengers in pods with speeds above 1,200 km/h through evacuated tubes. A three-tube test track is currently built top roof the concept. First commercial trains could be ready as soon as 2020, enabling commuting between distant cities on a daily basis. A journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco (650 km), for instance, would take only about 30 minutes.
New lightweight materials, new plane concepts and advanced noise cancelation might initiate there turn of supersonic planes. A major hurdle, apart from the high fuel demand, is the boom that occurs when planes travel at supersonic speed, making commercial mainland flights difficult with current technology. Dampening the boom is thus a key research area and developers are optimistic that the next generation of planes could also be used for mainland flights.
By 2030, high-speed trains could develop into the most used means of transport between Los Angeles and San Francisco. 45 % of travelers are expected to travel by train, 26 % by air and 29 % by automobile.