Hyperloop, the next-generation mode of transportation
Have you heard the word “flygskam”? In Swedish, it means “ashamed to fly” and “ashamed to take the plane,” and “flying shame” in English and the abbreviation of “tobihaji” in Japanese, which is from the name of a drama program, have spread on the Internet. So why is the idea of ashamed to take the plane is spreading all over the world?
The reason is the CO2 emissions per passenger. There is data showing that planes emit about 15 to 20 times more CO2 than railroads. These facts led an environmental activist Greta Thunberg to cross the Atlantic Ocean by yacht rather than by plane. Currently, the supporters of flygskam are not only these activists. The airline company KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has also declared that it will reduce carbon footprint from planes by reducing short-haul routes.
Along with these social trends, the development of the very high-speed transit system “Hyperloop” is currently underway in countries around the world. This is a next-generation mode of transportation: a floating cabin moves at high speed in a low-pressure tube. Theoretically, power consumption for transportation is about one-tenth of that of an airplane, which is about one-third that of conventional high-speed railroad. It also is about 1.1 times faster than an airplane and about 4 times than a railroad. As being electric, the vehicle itself does not emit CO2. For these benefits, the introduction of the system is being discussed around the world as an alternative to short-haul flights.
Tesla’s Elon Musk, who devised a technical theory, regularly held competitions to compete for the high-speed transit technology to realize this Hyperloop, and research teams from universities around the world have participated it. Many teams from Europe, the source of flygskam, also participated, and the team that won the 2017 competition established Hardt in the Netherlands. The company is planning a network concept connecting the metropolitan area of the Netherlands, centered around Amsterdam, with Paris and Frankfurt.
This spring, Hardt has reported the results of a survey conducted in collaboration with North Holland. According to the report, the realization of the Hyperloop network will allow people to come and go in 90 minutes between Amsterdam and Paris. This is less than half the time taken by the current railroads, which is almost the same as a nonstop flight. It currently takes about two hours between Amsterdam and Brussels, but the new system will make it less than an hour. In terms of transport capacity, it can carry 200,000 passengers one way each hour.
Some have questioned the feasibility of Hyperloop, considered an alternative to short-haul flights. In addition to transport technology issues, various concerns have been pointed out, such as whether it is available for elderly people and infants, how to evacuate in an emergency, and the large cost until getting the business on track. Although companies other than Hardt are also conducting researches around the world, according to some experts, the results will be achieved in 2030 at the earliest. It seems to take a while before it can be realized, but a clean future is expected looking at the design with a sense of near-future.