Construction plans ready for Elon Musk-conceived bullet train
This concept art shows passengers boarding a high-speed Hyperloop train pod. (Hyperloop Transit Technologies)
Published Thursday, January 21, 2016 2:31PM EST
A near-supersonic transit project conceived by Elon Musk has moved one step closer to becoming a reality, after the company behind it submitted a formal application to build its first operational track in central California.
Hyperloop Transit Technologies has filed construction permits to begin work on a supersonic train line in Kings County, Calif., around the site of a planned self-sustaining, solar-power town.
The Hyperloop track is expected to provide full transit service to the future residents of Quay Valley, a planned community of about 25,0000 homes halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
"This will be the world's first passenger-ready Hyperloop system," HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn said Thursday, in a statement announcing the construction plans.
Hyperloop aims to be a low-cost, high-speed public transit solution for inter-city and intra-city transportation, capable of getting passengers from L.A. to San Francisco in about 30 minutes. The design involves propelling train pods through a low-pressure tube track at high speed, up to 1,223 kilometres per hour, just short of the speed of sound. The pods hover inside the tube on cushions of air, much like a puck on an air hockey table, and are not attached to any rail line.
HTT is aiming to break ground on the Quay Valley track in the second quarter of 2016, and is already moving forward with interviewing contractors to build the track. "First optimizations of the completed Hyperloop system are expected by 2017 with a full opening to the public by 2018," the company said.
Entrepreneur and SpaceX founder Elon Musk drafted the idea for Hyperloop in a white paper, and a team of innovators founded HTT to make Musk's idea a reality. SpaceX has helped facilitate the design process for HTT's bullet train pods, but the two companies remain distinct from one another.
"Neither SpaceX nor Elon Musk is affiliated with any Hyperloop companies," SpaceX says on its website. "While we are not developing a commercial Hyperloop ourselves, we are interested in helping to accelerate development of a functional Hyperloop prototype."
The Hyperloop concept is meant to be open-source, so anyone can use it or improve upon it at any time, without paying for the plans.