View Full Version : Faster by train.

27th Jun 2001, 10:51
A 2,300mph rail link from Britain across the Atlantic to the US could be built by 2030. The £30 billion undersea link would take just half an hour to cross from Liverpool or Bristol to New York or Boston. Engineers say the technology already exists to build such a supersonic rail link and prototypes are already being built in Japan. Frank Davidson, the man behind the transatlantic rail project, says it could be built by 2030 and it may replace air travel. Mr Davidson, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was involved in the Channel Tunnel project. He says boring a tunnel would be expensive and "old-fashioned". Instead the link would be a floating submerged tube anchored to the sea bed with cables. Magnets would levitate the train and friction would be eliminated by maintaining a vacuum inside the tunnel allowing supersonic speeds. He claims the link would be safer than conventional trains because there is no chance of derailment. "The increase in recent years in the amount of transatlantic air traffic shows how great the market is and technically it's feasible," Mr Davidson told the Daily Mail. He is now forming a consortium of experts to draw up more detailed plans.

27th Jun 2001, 11:54
Then a bloke said "I know, lets clear a load of toxic land near the Thames, build a huge great tent, call it the Dome and millions and millions of people will come to marvel and it will stand as a tribute to modern Britain. And then, when the celebrations are over, we could turn it into an ultra-modern freight terminal for the new 3 x weekly shuttle service to Mars, due to go to a daily service in the spring of 2021"
Ooops, too much Discovery Channel again....

27th Jun 2001, 12:07
The US would block up the tunnel unless their trains were given better access to Heathrow.

27th Jun 2001, 15:32

tony draper
27th Jun 2001, 16:57
Draper shall apply for the contract to supply cyliders of vacuumn. ;)

Midnight Blue
27th Jun 2001, 18:13
I wouldn“t waste my time going by a 2300mph train, because the invention of the "Scotty-beam-me-to-NY" technology will already have taken place in 2025!

27th Jun 2001, 18:28
Midnight Blue,

I think you are quite right, only two questions though?.

1. Will your luggage make it?
2. Will Scotty beam your clothes as well?
(As in: "Very funny Scotty, now beam over my clothes")

[This message has been edited by Diesel8 (edited 27 June 2001).]

27th Jun 2001, 21:13
Anyone remember the MagLev train at Birmingham (UK) airport?

During the opening ceremony - with the Mayor of Birmingham onboard - there was a power outage, causing the train to stop levitating; it contacted the track, came to an abrupt halt and the mayor broke his leg!

Imagine the 'mush' appearing at the other end of the track in a similar event on this hairbrained scheme! :rolleyes:

http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/cool.gif Underdog

27th Jun 2001, 21:26
I agree entirely with RVR800. Even if they did build it, there is no way on earth that I would travel in it!

northern boy
27th Jun 2001, 22:18
If anyone has read any of the "Nights Dawn" Trilogy by Peter F Hamilton then they will have seen that this idea isn't new.One of the features of the story, and it is only a story, is that the climate has become so f*****d by global warming that permanent violent storms rage,completely knackering air travel.The solution is to build supersonic "vacuum" trains in tubes on the sea beds linking all the continents together.The article seems to have lifted the idea straight out of the book,right down to the fine detail.The story by the way is set in AD2600 so I reckon I might just keep my job until retirement.

Horrible thought for the day: Will railtrack be put in charge?

How long before RB announces he's the launch customer?

Bono Vox
27th Jun 2001, 23:41
"just half an hour to cross from Liverpool or Bristol to New York or Boston."

they're going to move ireland, then! :) :)

(please, no comments on what a good idea tha might be!)

Al Titude
27th Jun 2001, 23:54
"a submerged tube anchored to the sea bed by chains..."

Safer than flying in a C152 I suppose...

27th Jun 2001, 23:57
Hmm, interesting thought with that tunnel.
Of course the engineers know there is strong currents on the sea bottom. (The Gulf Stream flows back the other way: NE to SW along the bottom.)
Also there is such thing as underwater uh, sea quakes:
I would think it be hard to keep a tunnel straight enough for a 2300 mph train with these forces of nature factored in.

But on the other hand, I am sure the engineers have already sorted it out.

No mention of what would power the trains?
With vacuum in the tube, would pressured air from behind push 'em forward fast enough?

And, oh, what if somebody forgot to turn the vacuum off before landing?
The thing would shoot out of the hole and jump across the entire USA just from inertia?

Or what if one of them sub marines hit the tube and ruptured it as the train was speeding along the bottom?
Would give new meaning to the phrase: Stopped Dead in the Water...?

Or what if, uh, never mind.

Sounds good and would love to see it happen,
even at $30 Billion.
(Can I sign up for Bonds right now.. :))

Men, this is no drill...

[This message has been edited by TowerDog (edited 27 June 2001).]

28th Jun 2001, 00:08
Wouldn't the tunnel have to be rediculously strong and faultless to maintain a vacuum under several thousand feet of water?

Gertrude the Wombat
28th Jun 2001, 01:17
Um, wasn't it Harry Harrison who wrote this one first? 1950s some time?

Ah yes, Google he say: "A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!", but I'm surprised to read that it was published in 1972, I was sure it was earlier than that.

28th Jun 2001, 01:18
Bet the pax would still smoke in the bogs though! Wonders what the emergency brief would be like?


28th Jun 2001, 04:34
There was actually a German film (Die Tunnel) on a similar theme in the late 20's /early 30's. The same file had passenger airships with parachute escape - you just had to put on a shoulder harness then climb outside the wimdow to attach the parachutes which were stored outside! There was recently a british designed space plane which could be built for around £20 mill and would only cost a few thousand for an orbital flight- thy were just waiting for a revolution in materials to actually have something to make it with

28th Jun 2001, 06:55
Over here we are connected to the outside world by two undersea cables stretching from Borneo to Singapore. At least twice a year one of the cables is snagged by a trawler and ripped out, leaving us with poor phone quality and slow internet speeds. I can just imagine a trawler dragging the vacuum tube open and half the Atlantic Ocean being sucked into the tube! Awesome eh?

Or will all the fish have been fished to extinction by then and there will be no more trawlers?

Through difficulties to the cinema

28th Jun 2001, 07:27
I think that all these scientist have way to much time on their hands they sit around all day playing with themselves, then they have wet dreams thinking about these supposed supersonic trains and other rediculous inventions and when they wake up they write the idea down and have another pull. They're all just fantasy's of the so called scientist. In my opinion it's all
BULL SH*T !!!!!!

if your gonna die, die in a kingswood

28th Jun 2001, 14:38
Liverpool to US via Ireland...

don't forget the Shannon stopover ;)

28th Jun 2001, 15:21
I've got the Harry Harrison book, and a good read it is too. Contains all the points mentioned in the Press release. The book was set in an "alternate universe" with the rebel George Washington, having been soundly defeated by the mighty British Empire. Featured some other notable points, including nuclear powered trains (but not travelling through the tunnel), a stop just off Ireland to change trains onto the fast Maglev jobs, modular construction of the floating tunnel sections, and most bizzarely of all, huge prop aircraft powered by pulverised coal, piloted by mustashioed ex RAF Captains, and now run by P and O.

They weren't too keen on Electronic computers either, prefering the more reliable mechanical machines produced by the Babbage Company :)

Realistically looking aead a good few years, aircraft are inherantly inefficient, using a huge amount of energy just to keep at altitude, and to overcome drag. If energy becomes sufficently expensive a transport method that uses uses no fuel to just keep going in a staight line, could become very attractive. With regenerative braking, energy cost would be very low.

now all we need is a Space Elevator (from Arthur C Clarkes' , the Fountains of Paradise, although he didn't come up with the idea, instead giving credit to a Russian scientist) and we would be laughing.

[This message has been edited by Pdub (edited 28 June 2001).]

Windy Militant
28th Jun 2001, 16:07
Nowt new under the sun eh! Didn't Brunel have some design for Vacuum trains. Also featured in the first Dan Dare adventure. Any way have any of these twonks tried figuring out how much energy its going to take to hold a high vacuum over that volume of tunnel. Oh yeah and what if the car loses pressurisation, you can't push the nose down to get to a breathable atmosphere in a tunnel can you!

Bally Heck
28th Jun 2001, 18:58

"aircraft are inherantly inefficient"

Just took 330 peeps to PMI at about 113mpg per peep. Try doing that in you Ford Fiesta and doing it in two hours.

I think that relative to road and sea transport we are relatively efficient. Rail transport perhaps less so. But if you want to live dangerously...sit at the front of a train and eat a hamburger.

tony draper
28th Jun 2001, 19:31
I worked for a while with the pneumatic tube systems they have in places like Sainsburies, the tubes ran for quite a distance from the checkouts to the cash room way at the back of the store, those carriers used to travel at phenomenal speeds, we had to install a knife valve ahead of the carriers to slow them down or they would have blasted thru the recieving station.
They did not work on a vacuumn, just reduced air pressure ahead of the carrier and atmospheric pressure behind, very efficient, often thought a scaled up version would be worth looking at.

[This message has been edited by tony draper (edited 28 June 2001).]

28th Jun 2001, 19:50
The boffins seem to have overlooked the fact that the Atlantic is still expanding by a few cm. a year, and has the mid-oceanic ridge running down the middle which spews out vast amounts of lava every year and interesting phenomena known as "black smokers" which belch sulphur-rich plumes at up to 1000 degrees C on to the sea floor. Not to mention the frequent earthquakes associated with sea floor spreading.

Methinks I'll stick with the airlines...

29th Jun 2001, 02:21
Another quick thought - imagine the situation with one tunnel (hopefully paired) between Europe/ America. And you thought LHR was crowded!!
Also there is a safety problem with Clarke's space elevator, as pointed out in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series; the cable is not in orbit and if anything break it then the result is catastrophic - much heavier/faster than the 'dinosaur killer' meteor (although the impact site would be a narrow strip around the equator)

29th Jun 2001, 03:08
Bally Heck, we'll assume me and 3 mates leap into the mighty Ford at say 40mpg. Thats an average of 160mpg per passenger ;)
Two hours is more tricky though :)

I'm not saying aircraft are inefficient compared to other current options, (although sea transport is best on a mpg per tonne basis - mind you speed isn't too hot) just that compared to something running in a vacuum (no drag) supported on superconducting magnets (no power required) and using regenerative braking to stop (getting back almost all the energy back you put in to accelerate), they do look a tad profligate.

kala, old Harry, stuck an "floating" bridge at the mid-atlantic ridge, that is the sections were buoyant and held down by cables, with enough slack in the bridge to last a good few years.

Mycroft, you cure that problem, by having a large mass (stray asteroids would work nicley, also giving you a carbon source for the diamond filament that needs inventing before construction, Bucky balls would work too) in geostationary orbit with the elevator coming down from it, and indeed one going up from it for "slingshot" launches. That way if the tether comes lose at the base nothing dramatic happens at all. The only problem is a sever above ground level, in that case only the portion below the break comes down, the rest stays where it is (roughly). Worst case scenario isn't too bad really, as only the tower bit comes down, and thats only going to weigh a few thousand tonnes.

The best has to be the incremental cost to orbit though, its in the region of a few pounds per tonne in energy terms, assuming what goes up eventually comes down as well (link 2 cars together, one goes up one goes down, your only paying to lift the difference between the 2 cars weights)

And for those in a hurry, how about just hitching a ride up in your BoeingBus A7157 glider? "ladies and gentleman, this is your captain speaking, we're just reaching our starting height of 200 miles above Africa and we'll be starting our glide into New York in just a moment"
Somehow I don't think that will catch on, for a start getting the gliders back to the site will be a bugger ;)

29th Jun 2001, 05:11
"...and most bizzarely of all, huge prop aircraft powered by pulverised coal, piloted by mustashioed ex RAF Captains... "

Sounds a bit like the old 48 squadron, one of whose Flight Engineer's once described his job as "Stoker on a Charlie 130"

Through difficulties to the cinema