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Trains of the Future

September 17, 2013

Imagine this: you suddenly want to go visit your mother who lives cross country for the weekend. You walk into the terminal, pass through minimal — if any — security before purchasing a ticket right there, real cheap. You get onto the train and less than an hour later, you are up to 4,000 miles away from your starting point. Or you live in Los Angeles and you have a few hours to kill, so you decide to take your lover or family to lunch in New York; 45 minutes later, you arrive at the bistro on 1st Street and Main. Or your job needs to you to live in China for a while, so you pack all your things and use the two hours of travel time to write your annual report. You will be traveling up to 4,000 mph with a G-force equivalent to a car ride on the highway. Sound impossible? Nope!

Can you imagine the benefit for us fat people if this system were to be built? No pay-by-weight, and each capsule can hold 800 lbs. or more. Travel can be as cheap as $10-$20 a trip! We could choose to travel in a capsule all by ourselves and have plenty of room, or we could travel with others. My 350-400 lbs. self could ride in a capsule with my mother and brother and still have enough room to pack travel bags. We wouldn’t have to suffer in those awfully small plane seats and our access to travel would expand exponentially.


ET3 conceptual artwork.

A concern I do have is that with a capsule being able to have up to six people in it, whomever controls the system might make those of us who want to ride alone or who, because of weight limits, will have to have less people in each car pay more to “compensate” for lost revenue. However, I think that it will probably be a moot point and something that might not happen because when you can have 10 capsules going through a section every second, there won’t be much lost anyway.

Possible US routes with colors showing the different speeds used. I think they should hit all of the state’s major cities — like Flagstaff, AZ.

Besides us, can you imagine the benefit to other countries if a system like this were built on a global scale? Of course, tourism would increase as more people could afford the most obvious current barrier (cost of travel), but cargo and goods prices would also drop because of the same reason. The need to transport things via ships across the ocean would be as slow and cumbersome as traveling cross country on horseback is now.

Anyway, I think that this endeavor will be good for us fat people. I look forward to being able to have a day trip or a weekend vacation abroad and still being able to come back home in time for college/work that next Monday. I look forward to fitting into the seats and not worrying about weight restrictions or whether I have to buy another seat. I look forward to being treated like a customer instead of a burden. Someday (soon?) that will happen. Until then…

If you are interested, here is a link to the ET3 FAQ sheet. There it tells you how you can participate in the vision if you want to contribute something to make this happen and explains more in depth things like what happens if there is a breach in the tubes, what will happen if someone gets sick, what can be expected from a ride and/or station, and so much more.


UPDATE: an earlier version of this article implied that the Hyperloop proposed by Elon Musk and the Evacuated Tube Transport (ET3) system by Daryl Oster were the same system. While the Hyperloop is an amazing innovation, I feel that the ET3 will be a much better system in the end. I do feel, however, that if Musk and Oster were to get together, nothing could stop them. For some major news outlet coverage for the ET3 and some for the Hyperloop, click here.

Kitsune Yokai

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Nof permalink
    September 17, 2013 10:20 am

    It’s definitely a cool idea, but it’s still up with jetpacks and flying cars for me. I am hoping it takes off though; it’s a much better replacement to air travel. I am unsure it will displace cars though. Time will tell!

    • September 17, 2013 9:13 pm

      I don’t think it will ever displace cars, even if the system is extensive. You will still need to drive to places that the tubes won’t service, though I’m sure that eventually such a drive wouldn’t be too far. That’s not mentioning the everyday tasks needed to be done, like grocery shopping, hauling things, or pleasure.

      The company is already planning to build a model tube that will be 3 miles long. They were looking at somewhere in FL, but maybe the increased publicity recently will help it launch sooner.

  2. Twistie permalink
    September 17, 2013 10:40 am

    What a neato idea!

    My best friend lives all the way across the continent from me, and another friend just announced she’s moving from here in California to Oklahoma. It would really be nice to be able to visit them once in a while.


  3. JeninCanada permalink
    September 17, 2013 12:33 pm

    There’s no reason why something like this, or even just high speed rail, couldn’t become a reality. The money is there (hello trillion dollar wars! We don’t need you!) and the ingenuity. If the Japanese and Europeans can build bullet trains that go through mountains we sure as hell should be able to get from coast to coast across the vast, mostly flat country (this includes Canada) easily.

    • September 17, 2013 9:16 pm

      I agree. Not only do we have the money and the ingenuity, we actually have all the supplies and technology that goes along with it. It could be build in 6 months if the US (and Canada) really put an effort into it and it would be much, much cheaper (and much less space) than building highways or high speed rails. I would totally vacation in Canada if I could go back and forth!

  4. September 17, 2013 2:12 pm

    That is SO FANTASTIC!! I want to do this, like tomorrow.

  5. Dizzyd permalink
    September 17, 2013 6:04 pm

    It would be cool! I’m a member of the Cool Cities Team here in my town (an offshoot of the Sierra Club) and our group leader has suggested having something like this that would allow you to take personal vehicles around town and it would run on a rail like this, too. America can make it, too, if the damn politicians will stop fighting each other long enough! (Personally, I’m waiting for the day we can just transport from one place to another via Star Trek).

  6. vesta44 permalink
    September 17, 2013 7:10 pm

    This is a really cool idea, but I have a few reservations about it. Would there be room for disabled people to transport wheelchairs/scooters with them? And while it would be great for day trips, it’s not so great for week-long (or longer) trips for disabled people. If I transport my scooter with me, then I have to rent a vehicle at my destination that is capable of hauling my scooter (and it needs to have a lift, I’m NOT pushing the scooter up ramps to load it). What I would save on an airline ticket or train ticket wouldn’t pay for the rental on the vehicle I’d need to navigate my destination for sightseeing. And I can’t fly or take a train for those same reasons – the need to rent a vehicle at my destination that will accommodate my scooter (and would an airline even allow me to take my scooter on the plane? Probably not).
    So, while this is a great idea for people who aren’t disabled to the extent that I am, it seems to leave something to be desired for people like me.

    • September 17, 2013 9:39 pm

      I’m sorry I didn’t address this in the post, but hopefully people can see it here. ET3 answered this partly in their FAQs page:

      “Will the capsules be able to accommodate disabled persons?

      ET3 capsules are designed to accommodate a very wide range of human needs at the greatest possible value. Disabled persons able to use accessible public restrooms or taxis should have little trouble using ET3. Safety issues require a person who uses a wheel chair to transfer to a seat (as if using a toilet, or taxi). In the future it is likely that ET3 compliant special chairs (powered or manual) will be designed to roll in and out of ET3 capsules AND safely deal with acceleration and deceleration forces that typical devices are not presently designed for.”

      I don’t feel like this really answers your question well, but you can ask this question to the company and they will answer you.

  7. Jackie permalink
    September 18, 2013 10:56 am

    So is it going to be like riding in those delivery tubes from The Jetsons? That always looked like fun to me!

  8. September 18, 2013 11:19 pm

    Sadly, I think they will do it just like airplanes, trying to cram as many people in as possible. So they very may well charge fat people more. But, I’m still very much excited by the possibility of this.

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