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$2 million per mile for vacuum trains? But Canberra to cost $60 million per km?

By johnboy - 15 June 2012 7

Yahoo has a fun story on the potential of running maglev transport pods down vacuum tubes for 60 minute trans-atlantic crossings.

This bit really leapt out:

The unusual travel tech has proven successful in a laboratory setting, but has yet to make its way into the real world. The biggest barrier to the technology is, predictably, the cost. A 350mph local system would cost about $2 million per mile to install. Once built, however, the system would cost very little to operate — according to Oster, the cost of travel will be less than a penny per mile.

$2 million per mile is dirt cheap compared to Canberra light rail costings!

What’s Your opinion?


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7 Responses to
$2 million per mile for vacuum trains? But Canberra to cost $60 million per km?
gooterz 4:09 pm 16 Jun 12

Gungahlin Al said :

Yeah right. So I asked about more detailed costs so I could determine what might have been in/out. “The Government hasn’t allowed us to release those details.” Great – just “trust us – we’re the government” right? And then Simon Corbell has the temerity to get all high horsey accusing people of concocting ‘conspiracy theories’… Just release the full costings Simon.
quote]
FOI?

damien haas 4:04 pm 16 Jun 12

That feeble ‘costs’ chart is in this post at the ACT Light Rail website: http://www.actlightrail.info/2012/06/greens-uncover-60-million-dollar-free.html

I have handily highlighted the ‘free’ buses area of the chart.

At the transport forum at the National Press Club on Thursday night, the 20% cost of light rail vehicles and depot had risen to 30% in Minister Corbells speech.

Gungahlin Al 10:18 am 16 Jun 12

What many people aren’t getting about the ALP proposal for Northbourne is that a very large chunk of the costing is to do with virtually ripping up the whole corridor and rebuilding it. The central median, verges, several traffic lanes. Has to be at least $300m out of the totals. It is a total ‘Rolls Royce’ approach guaranteed to see it never funded.

The far simpler and cheaper approach is to just build rail down the central median. And rail could go over the top of al the cables and things stupidly laid down there. Bus lanes on the other hand would have to be relocated – mega cost.

And let’s talk about the centre vs outside options – Flemington was built for the central median option. How do you handle the whole cross-over option if Northbourne is down the outside lanes??

What really bugs me is how the costings are being hidden. I attended the consultant stall in Gungahlin. Only the small leaflet was on display. I asked about the costings. The consultant got a larger booklet out of a box stashed under a table. In that booklet was a tiny little table with very high level costs only. It includes amazingly 20% of $860m for “rolling stock and depots” but 0% for the bus option. Yeah right. So I asked about more detailed costs so I could determine what might have been in/out. “The Government hasn’t allowed us to release those details.” Great – just “trust us – we’re the government” right? And then Simon Corbell has the temerity to get all high horsey accusing people of concocting ‘conspiracy theories’… Just release the full costings Simon.

In the meantime, if you want a really neat solution – that is already operating elsewhere – you have to podcars.

gooterz 11:25 pm 15 Jun 12

There are a lot of miles to cover in transatlantic.. Hence the price.

Putting tubes into water is cheaper than putting tubes into the ground.

Still its on par with the 800 Million they want for ‘light’ rail.

I’m sure many of us think that those in charge just put a figure on light rail that was quite too high because they dont figure on light rail.

Apparently a chunk of the cost for Lightrail is the cost of the overhead lines /substations.
Why not use flywheels? Charge the train at stations and use energy recovery. Use some of that money collected by the carbon tax.

Nifty 8:48 pm 15 Jun 12

It’s actually not a new idea: it was tried several times in the 19th century. The well-known engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel built a 20 mile stretch of “atmospheric railway” west of Exeter in Devon, with trains being propelled by a piston in a vacuum tube between the tracks, the vacuum being generated by steam powered pumping stations. It was actually in use for nearly a year but it proved both unreliable and much more expensive to operate than conventional steam trains. The vacuum pipes were sealed with leather flaps which were kept soft and air-tight using tallow. However, the leather seals were susceptible to salt spray (part of the railway was along the coast) and were also apparently regarded as a delicacy by the local rat population!

Of course, materials technology has come a long way since the 1840’s but I for one won’t be holding my breath waiting for this to become a reality on the streets of Canberra.

M0les 7:52 pm 15 Jun 12

AFAICT, $2M per mile is cheap-ish for building roads let alone train lines. I expect the distances covered would be a factor in the low per-mile price though.

harvyk1 5:12 pm 15 Jun 12

Yeah, there are some serious real world problems which need to be overcome prior to such tech been useful for any real high speed OS jaunts or even high speed local trips. Number 1 being that the ground moves from time to time, thus keeping hundreds if not thousands of KM’s of track in a complete vacuum would be extremely difficult. The longest of tunnels at this stage still only reach less than 100km, and those things don’t even need to be water tight (water leaks in, it’s just they also have giant pumps to get water out), let alone airtight.

Nice idea though, and no doubt someone, somewhere will build such track if not for anything else shits and giggles.

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