A new Canadian startup wants to build a Hyperloop-type project branded FluxJet but lacks a real plan.
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A Canadian firm has plans to reinvent the way people and cargo move across the great white north. TransPod, the firm launching the brand has designed a new type of vehicle that moves in a vacuum tube at extremely high velocity – up to 1,000 kmh, or 621 mph which is faster than a jet usually travels. Initial designs will transport 54 passengers and cargo up to 10 tonnes.
“Our system contains aerodynamic and propulsion systems to reduce friction compared to trains, automobiles, and jets, and to carry passengers at a faster speed. Moreover, this technology is designed to be compatible with renewable energies including solar generation, supplemented by regional electrical grid connection link-ups.” – TransPod
The system would utilize technological leaps in contactless power transmission while the pod travels in a protected guideway (vacuum tube.) The name is a derision of the field of physics called veillance flux. The tube’s development and massive infrastructure investment intends to lower the cost of travel and emissions “based on fossil fuel-heavy jets and highways.”
While the brand doesn’t mention Hyperloop (which is open source and free to use), it’s clearly a Hyperloop product with what the brand feels is a unique twist.
Elon Musk delivered plans for a revolutionary new type of mass transportation years ago, making it opensource and available to anyone who would build it because he simply didn’t have the time. The former Paypal cofounder currently runs Twitter, Tesla, SpaceX, the Boring Company and Neural Link so it’s fair enough that he didn’t have time to make this happen too.
Hyperloop transportation technology uses magnetically levitating high-speed trains inside of a vacuum tube whereby the front of the train ingests excess air in the tube and forces it out the back. Hyperloop systems operate from electricity derived from solar panels on the tube’s roof.
The Virgin Hyperloop test track in west Texas proved the concept with models now being built for service connecting large cities close together such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Houston and Dallas, and Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Why This Won’t Work
It’s been a long road to get modern rail to work in the United States despite investment, interest, and large population centers. Canada has trains in some places, but finds itself in a similar position due to the spread out nature of its population centers and dramatic distances. This likely makes it easier to build the track but harder to make it viable. Canada is huge and for this model to work – at least initially – you need lots of people in a small area that frequently travel between two nearby locations.
One city pair it mentions is Montreal and Toronto, just a 45-minute journey, but without cross-border segments like Toronto to New York, or Vancouver to Seattle or Portland, it seems hard to foresee the likelihood of success.
Boston or Washington DC to New York make a lot of sense when looking at the US, but it’s difficult to build because of the existing geography. San Francisco to Los Angeles combines many of the needed elements and has the land and space (and sunlight) to make it feasible but just getting high-speed rail (bullet trains) between the two cities has become an absurd boondoggle. When it was initially approved in 2008, the $40 billion project was set to open in 2016. A neutered version now estimated north of $105 billion in total won’t even run between the two cities and still isn’t ready to open.
Second, the outlandish claims for how many jobs it will create makes little to no sense at all,
“What’s more, the project is expected to create up to 140,000 jobs and add $19.2 billion to Canada’s GDP throughout construction. It will also reduce CO2 emissions by about 636,000 tonnes per year. The plan appears to be gaining momentum, too. TransPod recently received $550 million in financing [March 2022] and kicked off the next phase of an $18 billion US infrastructure project to build the TransPod Line between Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. (It’ll reportedly get you to either city in just 45 minutes.)” – Robb Report
A net of 140,000 jobs seems increibly unlikely, even if it’s just for construction.
Third, the company claims to have a more efficient, lower maintenance design than “other vacuum tube train systems” suggests that its system will be incompatible with other Hyperloop options. If there were to be a Toronto-New York segment, those carrying on to other destinations would likely have to switch to other systems. This seems more harmful than beneficial, especially when entering late to the party.
Lastly, and forgive me if this seems forward, the concept that there’s already an improvement to the hyperloop when the first one hasn’t gone into service anywhere in the world comes off as more than hubris. It’s not to say that they aren’t right, maybe they are. Before SpaceX and Blue Origin had put their rockets into flight, I’m sure some claims of superiority were made with some level of truth. However, it seems lofty to suggest that you already have a better widget when the original widget has yet to be delivered.
Modernization of mass transit especially in North America where tracks can be hundreds if not thousands of kilometers long is welcome and necessarily for the growth of markets in both the US and Canada. TransPod seems to be ahead of their skis, however and investors should be wary; travelers should be skeptical.
What do you think? Is the FluxJet a better model Hyperloop? Can it be successful in Canada?
“The name is a derision of the field of physics called veillance flux.”
Derision? What does this sentence even mean?
Nothing like this will ever happen in the United States in our lifetimes, not enough political will. Maybe Canada can make it happen before we all croak.
Yet another techbro vaporware fever dream, I’m afraid.
We have yet to see even a full-scale hyperloop prototype, and I wouldn’t hold my breath for that. The concept itself relies on an overcomplicated, vulnerable, costly infrastructure investment that doesn’t integrate with anything else, and so even if you can overcome the technical challenges, you end up with a crappier version of high-speed rail.
And cargo? You need to fit a standard shipping container if this is to make any sense. And of course a lot of new non-standard infrastructure just to get to a fraction of the capacity that freight rail currently offers.
I agree with Juraj.
And on top on that, those machines are not mass transit tools for transportation: they do not carry more than 10 people at a time for instance instead of let say 500 or 800.
This is why we do not see them, just like the Jean Bertin’s aerotrain or any hyperloop.
Measuring line capacity by vehicle capacity is a fundamental mistake. A 100 passenger train car every two minutes (3,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd) has less line capacity than a 4 passenger motorcar every two seconds (7,200 pphpd).
On the contrary. Perhaps the plan isn’t for public view.
So the author is worried that this fantasy Canadian Hyperloop system that exists only in the realm of CGI animation will not be compatible with other fantasy Hyperloop systems that also only exist as CGI animation? Take a close look at the Hyperloop “competition” and you will see they are equally removed from reality. This piece feels like it was written 10 years ago before everything we have learned about the so-called Hyperloop since then.