China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation announced plans on Wednesday to research a futuristic train network that would first run at 1,000km per hour between cities, eventually developing to reach top speeds of 4,000km/h.
That target is well over 10 times faster than the maximum speed of existing bullet trains.
The idea was unveiled by Liu Shiquan, the corporation’s deputy chief executive, at an industry conference in Wuhan in Hubei province on Wednesday, the official Science and Technology Daily reported.
The company did not give a timeline for its ambitious plans.
Liu said the company wanted to work with over 20 Chinese and international scientific research groups on the project, according to the report.
The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) is the main contractor for the Chinese space program. It is state-owned and has a number of subordinate entities which design, develop and manufacture a range of spacecraft, launch vehicles, strategic and tactical missile systems, and ground equipment. CASIC owns seven academies, two scientific research and development bases, six public listed companies, and over 620 other companies and institutes scattered nationwide, with more than 135,000 employees. In 2012 (fiscal year), the total assets of CASIC is CNY 159.6 billion ¥, sales is CNY 134 billion ¥, and profit is CNY8.92 billion ¥. CASIC thus has about US$20 billion in sales and US$1.5 billion in profit.
Reduced air resistance could permit vactrains to travel at very high speeds with relatively little power—up to 6,400–8,000 km/h (4,000–5,000 mph). This is 5–6 times the speed of sound in Earth’s atmosphere at sea level.
ET3 proposes using car sized passenger capsules travel in 1.5m (5′) diameter tubes on frictionless maglev. Air is permanently removed from the two-way tubes that are built along a travel route. Airlocks at stations allow transfer of capsules without admitting air. Linear electric motors accelerate the capsules, which then coast through the vacuum for the remainder of the trip using no additional power. Most of the energy is regenerated as the capsules slow down. ET3 can provide 50 times more transportation per kWh than electric cars or trains.
Speed in initial ET3 systems is 600km/h (370 mph) for in state trips, and will be developed to 6,500 km/h (4,000 mph) for international travel that will allow passenger or cargo travel from New York to Beijing in 2 hours. ET3 is networked like freeways, except the capsules are automatically routed from origin to destination.
ET3 capsules weigh only 183 kg (400 lbs), yet like an automobile, can carry up to six people or 367 kg (800 lbs) of cargo. Compared to high speed rail, ET3 needs only 1/20th the material to build because the vehicles are so light. With automated passive switching, a pair of ET3 tubes can exceed the capacity of a 32 lane freeway. ET3 can be built for 1/10th the cost of High Speed Rail, or 1/4th the cost of a freeway.