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China is planning to build a 1,000 kph locomotive, which would nearly double the current record speed.  (Source: China Daily)

The new train design revives a concept bandied about since the 1960s -- a vacuum tube train. To date the concept has never been commercially implemented.  (Source: Capsule Pipelines)
Design would almost double today's record speed

We've discussed a couple of times the U.S.'s growing gap in high speed rail compared to China.  As fossil fuels become more scarce, more expensive, and more dangerous from a political standpoint, mass transit solutions look increasingly appealing.  High speed rail is particularly promising as it promises not only to reduce fossil fuel use, but also to get you to your destination faster.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) reportedly are preparing a record-shattering 1,000 kilometer per hour train, according to the 
Beijing Times.  

The new trains will make use of a vacuum tube to reduce friction losses.  They will first build a prototype vacuum magnetic suspension train capable of traveling between 500 and 600 kph.  That gives it a shot at breaking the record set by Japan's JR-Maglev train, which achieved a speed of 581 km/h (361 mph).  The record for a traditional railed train was set by France's TGV at 574.8 km/h (357.18 mph).

After the prototype, the group plans to implement a smaller train capable of speeds of as much as 1,000 kph.  Shen Zhiyun, a member of the research team, comments, "The speed can be reached by making vacuum pipelines for maglev trains to run through, with no air resistance."

Daryl Oster, who owns the U.S. patent on evacuated tube (vacuum) rail, now works at the CAE.  Along with Zhiyun and another researcher, Zhang Yaoping, he is leading efforts to deploy the technology.  The team hopes to begin laying ETT rail lines within the next ten years.

It would use less steel than current trains, but would be slightly more expensive.  China is targeting a cost of 200 million yuan ($29.54M USD) per kilometer for its traditional rail.  The Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) rail would cost approximately 210 to 220 million yuan ($31.0M USD to $32.49M USD) per kilometer.

Currently the planned trains travel at 350 kph.  A cost increase of 5 to 10 percent seems a fair tradeoff to score nearly twice the speed.  It's just one more example of how ambitious China is when it comes to high speed rail.

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Transportation Gap
By tng on 8/5/2010 8:44:20 PM , Rating: 2
We've discussed a couple of times the U.S.'s growing gap in high speed rail compared to China.

And the gap between the US and Japan, France, Germany......

Seems like the US just can't get it together and get some real high speed rail put together. I don't mean just the 70mph Amtrac stuff, but more like the trains I am used to in Japan that are 150-160mph.

RE: Transportation Gap
By HotFoot on 8/5/2010 10:35:39 PM , Rating: 2
Comparing the U.S. to parts of Canada might be more fair. If the Windsor-Quebec City corridor isn't worth putting a high-speed rail in, then there probably isn't anywhere in the U.S. that has the density/economics to work it, either.

RE: Transportation Gap
By YashBudini on 8/6/2010 2:26:02 PM , Rating: 2
Seems like the US just can't get it together and get some real high speed rail put together

There is an upside to that. Some politicians eager to spend such funding want to put a high speed rail between Albany and Buffalo NY. This would connect nothing to nowhere. Now who would ride these trains besides the same politicians?

I'd rather somebody give them a private jet, it's cheaper.

RE: Transportation Gap
By wookie1 on 8/6/2010 3:33:48 PM , Rating: 2
"Seems like the US just can't get it together "
What? We don't need these trains, we have airplanes. We can even change where they take us without laying new tracks!

But the cost sounds pretty cheap. In the Phoenix area, I think they spent $70M per mile for light rail that travels something like 35mph above ground without any tunnels. They want to extend it, but now at a cost of $100M per mile, still no tunnels anywhere for that cost. Amazing.

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