Imagine traversing from New York to Los Angeles in less than an hour, or completing the journey from London to Paris in a mere 15 minutes. Such feats may seem like the stuff of science fiction, yet China’s foremost missile manufacturer, the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), is boldly claiming to have engineered the fastest train ever conceived.

CASIC’s ambitious endeavor centers around the development of a hyperloop train capable of achieving mind-boggling speeds within a vacuum environment. The fundamental principle involves enclosing a tube spacious enough to accommodate a train and evacuating all air to eliminate drag and resistance.

The hyperloop train concept is rooted in the vactrain model, where trains traverse within vacuum tubes utilizing magnetic levitation (maglev) to glide above tracks, minimizing friction. However, the hyperloop train represents a significant enhancement of this concept, employing superconducting magnets to generate a potent magnetic field for propulsion. Complemented by a linear motor for acceleration and deceleration, as well as a compressor to purge residual air from the tube, the result is a transportation marvel capable of achieving hypersonic velocities with minimal energy consumption and environmental impact.

In a remarkable feat of engineering prowess, CASIC has already constructed a 1.24-mile test track in Datong, Shanxi province, where the hyperloop train achieved a record-breaking speed of 387 mph. Encouraged by this milestone, CASIC is forging ahead with Phase 2, which involves extending the track to 37 miles to target an even more staggering speed of 621 mph. The ultimate aspiration? A breathtaking 1,243 mph, a velocity that could transform travel dynamics, slashing journey times across vast distances.

Despite the tantalizing promise of the hyperloop train, formidable challenges loom on the horizon. The exorbitant costs associated with constructing and maintaining the infrastructure, coupled with ongoing safety concerns and regulatory hurdles, underscore the magnitude of the undertaking.

Nevertheless, CASIC is not alone in its pursuit. Numerous other entities are also vying to realize their versions of the hyperloop train, igniting a fervent race to materialize this futuristic mode of transportation. However, recent setbacks, such as the closure of Hyperloop One, serve as stark reminders of the daunting obstacles inherent in such ventures, despite substantial investment and grand aspirations.

Undeterred by these challenges, CASIC remains resolute in its ambitions, aiming to conclude Phase 2 testing by 2025 and actualize its vision of a 1,243 mph hyperloop train by 2030. If successful, CASIC could etch its name in the annals of history as the purveyor of the fastest train ever conceived.

Yet, as the pursuit of speed and efficiency unfolds, questions linger regarding the feasibility and viability of the hyperloop train. While it holds the potential to revolutionize transportation paradigms, its realization may entail significant financial burdens and inherent risks.

Nevertheless, the hyperloop train stands as a testament to human ingenuity and the relentless pursuit of progress. In China and beyond, it represents a transformative proposition, offering unparalleled speed, efficiency, and connectivity that could reshape the fabric of society and propel humanity into a new era of transportation.

By Impact Lab