China has the world’s fastest bullet train, but now the country wants to design the world’s fastest “flying train” as well. Someone call Doc Brown.
The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) announced its plans in August, but all exaggeration aside, it’s not really a sky-bound train. Instead, the train is a more sophisticated Hyperloop. As reported by Quartz, CASIC manager Liu Shiquan explained the train is basically a passenger pod that uses magnetism to levitate while traveling through a vacuum tube. This futuristic utilization of new technology is more suited to the spirit of SpaceX’s competition, although some contestants have stuck to old-fashioned wheels and propellant.
If everything goes as planned, the pod will reach supersonic speeds of 4,000 km/hour (2,485 miles/hour), though that will take quite a bit of development and testing — going that fast could be uncomfortable for some passengers.
For comparison, China’s fastest train can achieve a max speed of 400 km/hour (248 miles/hour), while the winning team of the second Hyperloop Pod competition was able to hit 324 km/hour (201 miles/hour). SpaceX CEO Elon Musk believes his Hyperloop is also capable of supersonic speeds, and it may be achievable in their test Hyperloop tube.
So far, CASIC owns 200 patents related to its flying train, but did not reveal when it will begin building and testing.