Reader's View: ‘Hovertrain’ would be transit vaporware
A "Hyperloop One" line between Duluth and Minneapolis, which would promise passengers too-good-to-be-true 15-minute rides, is transit vaporware. Such a loop was suggested as a possibility worth pursuing in a March 20, 2018, letter to the editor in the News Tribune, “ NLX is already outdated .”
Hyperloop One is essentially a version of 1960s hovertrains. Both governments and corporations spent vast sums of money building test vehicles and test tracks during the 1960s and 1970s. Despite all the time, money, and effort spent developing prototype hovertrains, all test tracks were eventually abandoned or scrapped while the test vehicles were put into museums, without one actual line ever being constructed. The reason why is that people realized that steel-wheels-on-steel-rails trains were already a safe, speedy, energy-efficient, and environmentally gentle mode of human transport.
In the future, Hyperloop One will end in the same place as did hovertrains: never built and almost entirely forgotten.
Also, one must account for the time added by decelerating; stopping for boarding and alighting passengers; and speeding up at stations in Superior, Hinckley, Cambridge, and Coon Rapids. Consequently, between stations such as Duluth and Superior, 600-mph Hyperloop One trains could not reach even half their top speed before having to slow down to safely stop at the next station.
Conversely, Northern Lights Express’ expected 90-mph top speed would promise to be fast enough for now and could be steadily increased until reaching optimum maximum speeds for the line.
Moreover, Hyperloop One vehicles travel within 150-mile-long vacuum tubes that are one tiny crack away from catastrophic and deadly vacuum implosions. As high-pressure crude oil pipelines have ruptures resulting in fires, injuries, and fatalities, so would Hyperloop One tubes.
Let’s stop chasing pie-in-the-sky transit vaporware and build our shovel-ready Northern Lights Express.
James Patrick Buchanan