Next Big Future has a piece about low pressure or vacuum tunnel based trains:
“The laboratory at Southwest Jiaotong University told Beijing-based Legal Evening News that it was working on a prototype with an average speed of 500 to 600kph. A much smaller model train traveling at 600 to 1,000kph in a vacuum tube will be introduced in two or three years, it added. A US proposal was for a highly evacuated tunnel.”
So the idea is, with lower or no air pressure in the tunnel, you save fuel and can go faster. You can ramp a train up to 600 miles an hour.
I’m suddenly wondering, without the need for as much maintenance, and training, what a future with less air travel and more high speed rail in near-reach cities, and a nation-wide partially evacuated tunnel system for longer reach routes, looks like.
I read a scene in an Arthur C. Clarke story that presumed such things. Interesting to see the research going down in China. But then again, over the last few years they’ve decided to really up the ante on trains. America has decided to (and in the case of Republicans, is downright proud of) relinquish rail technology and not even really hedge its bets much. That may end up well, but specialization usually tends to screw you up…