South Korea hopes to launch first hyperloop network in 2024
A hyperloop prototype in South Korea has reached speeds over 1,000km/h, just days after a rival system performed the first successful passenger test using the technology.
The Korean Railroad Research Institute (Korail) announced on Wednesday that a “hyper-tube train” travelling through a vacuum hit a top speed of 1,019km/h (633mph).
The test took place on a scale model and is the first of its kind in the world, according to Business Korea. The previous top speed, also set by Korail, was 714km/h.
South Korea is hoping to launch a hyperloop network by 2024, cutting the journey time between Seoul and Busan from three hours to 30 minutes.
The country already has high-speed bullet trains serving that route but the government is keen to make it near-supersonic.
The revolutionary transit technology was first proposed by Elon Musk in 2012, however the SpaceX and Tesla CEO said he did not have time to focus on its development himself.
Several companies and startups have since taken on the challenge, with the most promising being Hyperloop TT and Virgin Hyperloop.
Korail describes its hyperloop system as a ‘hyper-tube train’
Earlier this week, Virgin Hyperloop welcomed the first ever human passengers aboard a pod at a 500m test track just outside Las Vegas, Nevada.
The trip lasted just 15 seconds but reached speeds of 172km/h, which co-founder Josh Giegel described as “one giant leap toward the ultimate dream.”
Other countries currently considering the technology include France, India, Saudi Arabia and the UK.
A potential route between Gatwick and Heathrow airports could turn the 60km journey into a 5 minute shuttle, however the amount of planning permission required to build an entirely new form of transport infrastructure within an already crowded capital means it could be decades before it is ever realised.
The government of South Korea is more favourable when it comes to obtaining planning permission and overcoming regulatory hurdles, according to Hyperloop TT CEO Dirk Ahlborn, meaning it could become the first ever country in the world to introduce a hyperloop mass transit system.