The idea that we need a more efficient form of mass transit stems from a rapidly growing population and a steadily declining environment as a result of our dependence on gas-guzzling, CO2-emitting modes of transportation. Many companies are working toward a solution to this problem, and as an added bonus, some are developing tech that would allow us to travel close to the speed of sound.

Among the more recent efforts inspired by Elon Musk’s hyperloop concept is one out of Korea. The country has announced that they are working “to create an ultra-fast train, which will travel inside a state-of-the-art low-pressure tube at lightning speeds, in the not-too-distant future.”

Hyperloop Concept. Credit: Camilo Sanchez

The statement was made by the Korea Railroad Research Institute (KRRI), who will be working with Hanyang University and other research teams to bring the technology to fruition. Should they succeed, the train would easily shuttle passengers from Seoul to Busan in just 30 minutes (current travel time is 50 minutes by plane or five hours by traditional rail).

These super-fast speeds are possible because the technology eliminates friction and air resistance by suspending pods inside tubes in a partial vacuum. Theoretically, this will allow the train to go as fast as 1,000 km/h (621 mph). Magnetic levitation (maglev) trains, which are the fastest form of ground transport, can only go about half that speed due to air resistance, which slows the train down as it picks up speed.

This project marks Korea’s biggest effort yet focused on developing futuristic transportation technology. Only time will tell if they are able to realize their vision for the future of mass transit.

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