What a blast

There was much excitement in August when the initial “Alpha” design was released to the public for the “Hyperloop”, a mode of high-speed transportation that is the brainchild of entrepreneur Elon Musk.

And when Musk says high speed, he means high speed. It’s estimated that the Hyperloop would enable travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 35 minutes at an average speed of just under 600 miles per hour and a top speed of 760 miles per hour.

This could have grave implications for high-speed rail projects around the world given that, by comparison, they look rather cumbersome – with a maximum speed (to take California high-speed rail as an example) of just (did I really says ‘just’?) 220 miles per hour.

On top of this, the cost of California high-speed rail is put at $68 billion, whereas Musk says he can build the equivalent Hyperloop system for around $6 billion – as well as charge passengers significantly lower ticket prices.

If all this sounds too good to be true, well maybe it is. After all, the system – which would see passengers blasted through a tube in pod-like capsules – does have its doubters. One man who definitely falls in this category is transportation blogger Alon Levy, who describes as follows how a Hyperloop journey might be experienced:

“A terrifying ‘barf ride’ that would subject riders to violent g-forces and uncomfortable rolling, accelerating and braking.”

Now, this description may well lead some to conclude that – for all its speed, convenience and low cost – the Hyperloop is not for them. Others, however, may see it as potentially the best theme park ride of all time.