While we were all focused on the proposition of the Hyperloop train, China was busy proposing its own fast-travel plans.

Quick Notes

  • In 2013, Elon Musk released the white paper detailing plans for a new supertrain: the Hyperloop

  • Recently, China has announced its own plans for a new magnetic levitation train that operates in a similar way

  • The supertrain proposed by China would travel at speeds of up to 1000 kilometers per hour

The Hyperloop train was first proposed by a joint team of members from SpaceX and Tesla that drew heavily from the designs created by Robert Goddard. It proposed a new form of high-speed transportation that navigated through a sealed tube or a series of tubes that were entirely airtight, eliminating air friction that could hamper the vehicle’s potential speed.

China has recently announced its own competition in this race to create the newest, most polished, high-speed supertrain in the form of a new magnetic levitation train. Now, magnetic levitation trains are not entirely new to China.

For many years the supertrains have been a standard feature of China’s intricate transportation systems, but this new addition is different.

The current magnetic levitation supertrains travel at astonishing speeds, with their highest speeds reaching an incredible 215 miles per hour (or 346 kilometers per hour). The newly proposed train, however, aims to beat that record significantly in bold plans announced by the Chinese government.

The supertrain of the future is quickly becoming the public transport of today for Chinese citizens

Chinese government officials announced recently that they hoped to incorporate a new type of magnetic levitation train that would reach speeds nearly triple that of its predecessors. They would achieve this incredible feat by utilizing a very similar function to that proposed by the Hyperloop: a vacuum-sealed tunnel for the train to travel through.

By incorporating this element into the supertrain’s design, it is estimated that the proposed magnetic levitation train would reach speeds of up to 620 miles per hour, or nearly 1000 kilometers per hour.

It’s hard to fathom any form of public transportation traveling at such a phenomenal speed, but development is already well underway.

This all came about after the release of the Beijing transportation policy papers in September. Plans for the supertrain’s construction will begin as soon as early 2020, with the necessary sealed structure beginning its assembly in the central Chinese province of Hubei.

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Too good to be true? China’s plans sound a lot like Musk’s from 2013

While this all sounds fantastically exciting, it’s impossible to ignore the similarities between the proposed maglev supertrain of China and Elon Musk’s own Hyperloop. Both promise high-speed transportation through the minimization of velocity friction by encasing the transport in sealed tunnels.

Musk first debuted his white paper on the Hyperloop in 2013, and has yet failed to deliver any success in the pursuit of creating a train able to handle the extraordinary heat generated from such high-speed tunnels, in addition to a variety of other engineering faults that arise from such an ambitious endeavor.

China seems confident they’ll deliver, however. They have already stated their intentions to test a 124-mile long track for the new supertrain, which is already twenty times longer than even the proposed track suggested by Musk. Can they achieve their goals? Well, as it stands, China does boast the fastest maglev train in existence. Their track record may not guarantee success absolutely, but it certainly gives cause for excitement.

Take a deeper dive – Related reading on the 101

High-speed trains may be all the rage right now, but once upon a time these giant balloon-beasts were dominant, and they might be making a return.

It isn’t just on planet Earth that travel is receiving some revolutionary attention, the stars are opening up to us as well.

Why stop with space travel? Despite all the sci-fi movies telling us not to, let’s take a leap into time travel.