For promising Hyperloop, the devil is in the details


Aug. 13, 2013

For promising Hyperloop, the devil is in the details

Francis Vanek is a civil and environmental engineer whose expertise is in transportation systems and sustainability. He is a senior lecturer in Cornell’s College of Engineering and a faculty fellow at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. He notes that there is great promise, and great challenges ahead for Elon Musk’s proposed “Hyperloop” ultra-high-speed transportation system.

Vanek says

“Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept holds enough promise that we should continue to pursue.  The idea of evacuated tube transport has been around for some time, a similar proposal was advanced to connect all the major cities of Switzerland with evacuated tube transport.

“But the devil is of course in the details. Some possible questions and concerns include:

  • “The technology is very new, would the initial $6 billion cost estimate hold up?
  • “Could the right-of-way be procured?  That has been a challenge for a number of high-speed rail proposals in the US in the past.
  • “The advantage of high-speed rail is that intermediate cities also get service. Would the public buy in to a system that serves SF and LA only?”

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