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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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RE: kph
By Solandri on 8/6/2010 1:21:57 AM , Rating: 5
English units actually make a whole lot of sense if you're actually using them in real life, not thinking of them as abstract numbers. You have to remember that when these units were invented, there was no widespread access to calibrated measuring devices like we have nowadays. Back then, actually measuring things was the hard part; doing math on them was easier, relatively speaking.

10 cm in a dm. Can be divided into 1/2 or 1/5 to yield integer measures.
12 inches in a foot. Can be divided in 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/6, all yielding integer measures.

1000 m in a km. Can be divided into 1/2, 1/4, 1/5, 1/8, 1/10, 1/20, 1/40 to yield integer measures.
5280 feet in a mile. Can be divided in 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/8, 1/10, 1/11, 1/12, 1/15, 1/16, 1/20, 1/30, 1/40, 1/60 to yield integer measures.

English weight units are designed to be divisible by 2. In old days before every household had a calibrated scale, if you had 1 pound of wheat (measured on a calibrated scale at the market), how do you think they divided it evenly? They pulled out a simple balance, and split it until each side had the same weight - 8 ounces to a side. Split that again, 4 ounces. Split it again to get 2 ounces. And again to get 1 ounce.

Same goes for English volume measures. 4 quarts in a gallon (I don't remember what the 1/2 gallon unit is), 2 pints in a quart, 2 cups in a pint, 2 gills in a cup, 4 ounces in a gill (don't remember the 1/2 gill unit), 2 tablespoons in an ounce, 4 drams in a tablespoon. Again, if you're pouring liquid into two similar sized pitchers, it's almost trivial to eyeball it until both have the same amount of liquid. It's nearly impossible to eyeball 1/10th of a liter.

Nowadays, the situation is reversed. Calibrated measures are cheap and common. But most people don't have a calculator handy (and never got beyond elementary school math). So it makes more sense to use measures which match our base 10 counting system. (Except for computers, where base 2 makes more sense.)

Metric units are easier to calculate with. English units are easier to work with.

RE: kph
By Pjotr on 8/7/2010 8:02:21 AM , Rating: 2
History is irrelevant. Either use what most of the world uses, or stick to the US system, which loses me as a reader. When I read a review saying a laptop weights X lbs, it says nothing and I go to some other site.

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