Chinese scientists have proposed the building of an undersea maglev system that would run at a speed of up to 2,000 km/h, more than twice as fast as the much-discussed Hyperloop proposed by Elon Musk.
The concept is similar to Hyperloop, being essentially a rail gun in a vacuum tube. The novelty is that the tunnel would float in water, which would bear 90% of its weight.
The idea has been floated by three academics: Sun Jun, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Yue Jialing and Gu Guobiao, who are members of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
The three have called on the Chinese government to consider setting up an official project to explore the technology.
The government has yet to respond, but meanwhile China Railway Tunnel Survey and Design Institute, a subsidiary of China Railway Group, is reported to have completed preliminary studies into the construction of a test submarine vacuum rail tunnel in Zhoushan, a coastal city near Hangzhou.
According to reports in China Money Network, which carried a translation of an article in China’s Technology Daily, this would be constructed using shielded underwater bridge technology. If completed, it will be the world’s first underwater vacuum tunnel, with a total length of 10km.
Such a submarine vacuum railway could shorten travel time between the coast of Fujian province and Taiwan, a distance of 180km, to around six minutes.
It is just an idea at this stage but if any country is positioned to try submarine vacuum rail, it would be China.
Having built 500 underwater tunnels in the past 20 years, China is at the forefront of underwater tunnel construction technology.
Image: The system would be similar to a "normal" Hyperloop, but with 10% of the weight (Creative Commons)