But this is not a new concept. In fact, the first experimental “subway” in New York City, Alfred Beach’s “Pneumatic Transit” proved back in 1870 that it would work. Despite political opposition Beach secretly built a 300-foot-long subway under Broadway near City Hall, offering daring passengers a round-trip ride in the system’s only railcar, pushed and pulled
|Beach Pneumatic - 1870|
Even Beach’s idea wasn’t new, as vast underground pneumatic tube systems in Paris and London were already delivering telegrams and mail by the 1850’s. As recently as the 1960’s, office buildings in major cities were designed with pneumatic tube systems for inter-office mail. Many banks still use pneumatic tubes at drive-up windows.
Hurtling through a tube may be fine for mail, but what about humans? As a recent article in Smithsonian Magazine points out, the psychological factor of being enclosed in a sealed tube, traveling 700+ mph, is not that much different than flying in a jet… maybe just a bit more claustrophobic.
Whether by train or plane, I always like to look out the window. Seeing where we’re going is half the fun, even on a familiar route. But wrapped in a metal tube inside a giant pipe afford no views at all. Riding 31 miles in the Chunnel under the English Channel takes 20 minutes at today’s speeds, and that’s more than enough time for me, thank you very much.
Of greater concern are the propulsion methods and the sheer physics of accelerating and braking from near-supersonic speeds. But the biggest challenge of all would be where to
|Another Hyperloop Rendering|
It will be interesting to see if Musk’s and others’ Hyperloop concepts get off the ground (pun intended), but I don’t expect to ride such a system any distance in my lifetime.