As Australian politicians squabble over future transport needs from new airports in Sydney to super fast trains along the East Coast, a new technology has emerged that could see people transported between Sydney and Melbourne in less than 15 minutes.
Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) is an airless, frictionless form of transport which, its designers say, is safer, cheaper and quieter than trains or aeroplanes and the good news for Australian politicians is that the transport system can be built “significantly cheaper that a super fast railway line or a freeway.”
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How the system works is that travellers sit in a six seater passenger pods that can reach phenomenal speeds of up to 6,500kph, which means that a journey between Sydney and Melbourne will take less than 15 minutes. A journey to Perth will take 35 minutes.
Or if in London you could hop on the Tube in the morning – and get off near your office in New York City just three-quarters of an hour later – which is faster than the commute between Newcastle and Sydney.
The system uses airless vacuum tubes are also eco friendly with the developers of the system claiming that the EET system can achieve fifty times more transportation per kWh that electric cars or trains by cutting out air or rolling resistance.
The Daily Mail claims that the developers envisage that it would work as a form of Personal Rapid Transit, and would accordingly be networked like motorways with car-sized capsules automatically routed like internet traffic.
They also claim that users of the system will be subjected to minimal G forces.
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Wikipedia says that air is permanently removed from the 1.5 m diameter tubes built along a travel route. Car-sized passenger/cargo capsules travel in the tubes on frictionless maglev. Airlocks at stations allow transfer without admitting air.
Linear motors safely accelerate the capsules, for most of the trip they coast through the vacuum without using additional energy. Acceleration energy is recovered by using linear generators to decelerate the capsules. ETT is not pneumatic tube transport (PTT) commonly used at drive-up banks. ETT is claimed to be able to accomplish fifty times more transportation per kWh than electric cars or trains because travel occurs without air resistance or rolling resistance.
Material efficiency and automated production promise to drop cost to less than 1/10 that of High Speed Rail, or 1/4 that of freeways. Automated switching allows a 560 km/h ETT route to exceed the capacity of a 32 lane freeway, producing further economy.
The ETT technology is similar to a vactrain, but the PRT design philosophy is more similar to automobiles operating on a freeway, than to trains on a track.
Vactrains can haul much larger loads than ETT, just like a train can haul bigger loads than a car. The cost of vactrain infrastructure is estimated to be more than an order of magnitude greater than ETT (just trains at $50k/seat cost ten times more than cars at $5k/seat). One reason is because the ETT vehicle mass is two orders of magnitude less than a maglev train. Because of low cost, and point to point routing, ETT has the potential to serve individual residences and businesses.
The trade name Evacuated Tube Transport was coined by mechanical engineer Daryl Oster in the early Nineties and in 1997 he was given a patent for the technology.
Since then he has managed to build a consortium of licensees to help him develop the system.