Space: The Final Rail Frontier?
All aboard the near 20,000 mph Low Earth Orbit Express! This $60 billion project from Startram (co-invented by one of the Maglev guys) thinks it possible. Plus, new rail links in England, Ferrari-driven train service and further proof why rail expanding fast tracks is positive from an environmental and economic standpoint. This is the latest round up of high-speed rail news from around the web.
Faster than a Space Shuttle: Imagine taking a Maglev train in a vacuum-sealed tunnel on the ground, accelerate it for five minutes up to 5.5 miles per second and launch into 12 miles into the sky where, hopefully, the thin air doesn’t destroy this space train now hurtling into orbit at near 20,000 mph. Sandia National Labs have reviewed these “spacey” plans and actually thinks it might be doable despite the hefty price tag. And compared to what the space shuttle cost to run, this train seems like a relative bargain. Could this really happen?
From London to the Lovely Sea: A new high-speed coastal rail service to London with stops at Sellafield, Millom, Barrow and Ulverston could be in operation by May 2015. Chris Hanks, head of Alliance Rail Holdings, said, “We believe there is a case for running two or three trains a day round the Cumbrian coast.” The service would be seven days a week, with hopes of boosting economic development in the region. You may be surprised which country is creating the new fleet.
Ferrari Boss Revs Up High Speed Train Service: Luca di Montezemolo, head of the Italian sports car company, recently told a German newspaper that he’d spent 650 million Euros on 25 trains. He says he decided to make the investment as a reaction to the liberalization of high speed train services in Italy. Speaking of his plans, “You have never seen such trains before. We got the best Italian food and a great cinema.” Naturally. But will it be faster than Trenitalia?
Benefits of Expanding High-Speed in Europe: The European Commission’s 2011 Transport Report outlined ambitious plans for the development of high-speed rail on the continent. Under the proposal, these networks would triple in size by 2030, and help ensure that the majority of medium-distance passenger transport can go by rail. The benefits are boundless. The carbon footprint of HSR can be up to 14 times less than car travel, and up to 15 times less than flying. And that’s just the beginning.