Will Elon Musk kill it?
No, obviously. I suppose there’s a small chance the Dem big donor campaign contributors might figure they’d make more money from Musk’s idea than the present fraud but with the down payments to the pols already made and contracts in process I’d say that’s about as likely as Harry Reid coming out as a pedophile.
Mega projects like California’s high speed rail proposal have little or nothing to do with their stated purpose. They’re really about making sure a lot of money flows to politicians, favored contractors and landowners, suppliers and the like. The environmentalists get their beak wetted through a seemingly endless environmental impact assessment process and lawsuits. Everyone wins except the rubes (otherwise known as investors stupid enough to buy government bonds and taxpayers).
Admittedly, those same players could participate in Musk’s hyperloop but the pickings are slimmer at the stated 1/10th cost. Of course, the actual costs of these mega projects seldom have any relationship to the projections used to sell them to the government and the public.
Sadly, I think cynically that the political considerations might doom hyperloop instead. I wonder about a Dallas-Houston one though.
I can’t remember where I read this, but someone on line suggested reviving the old soviet Ekranoplans, air cushion vehicles which can cruise over water at 300+ mph. a few of these could connect LA and SF pretty easily and cheaply.
I read a good article about Ekranoplans just last week. They were impressive, both fast and pretty fuel efficient. They flew about 20 feet above the surface so there would be an issue when the waves are high (how often does that happen between LA and SF?) and with traffic. It seems you could build several of them, certify them for operations and begin a really high speed ferry service far sooner and for less money than hyperloop or high speed rail. However, not enough of the right people would get their payoffs with such a plan so it’d never happen.
I would imagine with some mods to the landing pods, you could modify an ekranoplan to land on a smooth surface, if you followed the HSR route instead of railbed, you could probably do a smooth cut through the desert with modified ramps and overpasses to clear roads or opt for really serious crossing rails and you would have a certain amount of infrastructure but, it could be built quickly. The noise might make the environmental impact study a challenge, but you would lock out a route for steel wheel HSR, you would get into service fast .
when you want to do HSR as the traffic builds up, you can start running the Ekranoplans out on the ocean and start building rail.
The Hyperloop is visionary, but, the concept is a long way from a buildable system. 1) as envisioned it ends in Sylmar not downtown, a big hit from a usability perspective. 2) the throughput is a lot less then described, to be safe, you can’t put more shuttles into the tube then you have breaking distance between them. 3) the shuttles assume a 30 second in station load time, one cranky elderly patron and the whole system starts backing up. 4) the first time something breaks in a tube, you are hosed. to be a practical system you need 3 tubes and lots of switch points. 5) You want people in a closed system, you need some form of egress. Say an earthquake causes the system to stop. you need to be able to egress people out of the shuttles, onto walkways, and then on stairs to the desert floor. 6) each of the stairs is a security problem so you need wandering security teams, alarms, etc. 7) you need fire sprinklers, standpipes,
water feeds. that means water mains, to all of the tubes. 8) if you egress people you need to get air into the tubes quick.
so, just making the changes, it becomes serious bucks and there are a lot of
technology issues. HSR is proven tech… You can argue about the budget for HSR but, the concept is technically sound. the hazard is getting the momentum to build that. Maybe they need to build the railbed out of reardon metal.
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