The emergence of railways changed forever the face of industry and transportation; food, goods and supplies could for the first time be shipped across long distances at alarming rates. Indeed, the railway is often thought of as the birth of the modern age. So what roles will it play in the future?
High Speed Rails
These railways have long been a part of the conversation for railways of the future. Many countries in Europe and Asia have already been experimenting with high speed rails. High Speed Rails refer to rails that can accommodate speeds of more than 155mph–some reaching speeds of a whopping 249mph (or 400kph). Currently France, Korea, China and Japan have the fastest rails, of speeds capable of exceeding 261mph. The US has long been talking of joining the ranks of these other countries by installing high speed rails in 10 areas. So far these rails have yet to see their high speeds.
Maglev trains are trains or transportation systems that operate off of magnetic levitation, that is, using magnets to lift the trains off the rails and propel them frictionless along their path. Systems like the ETT (Evacuated Tube Transport) could potentially carry passengers along at 6500kph–meaning passengers could board a train in New York and arrive in Beijing only a little over halfway through “The Godfather.”
Elon Musk’s Hyperloop
Recently famed entrepreneur Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla Motors, PayPal and SpaceX, has envisioned another new mode of transportation that’s more in-line with Maglev trains. Musk’s Hyperloop uses the same principles of vacuum tube technology that we see at the bank, moving capsules through a tube on a cushion of air. Musk’s design claims to be able to reach a max speed of 760mph! Of course these are just some of the designs for the future of railways; and while some might be feasible, who knows if something better and more exciting will arrive before these futuristic designs can be implemented. After all, everyone thought we’d have the flying car long before the iPad.