The first train to travel at 1,000 km/h may soon be a reality in South Korea, where there are already plans to build it in the “not too distant future”.
The Korea Railroad Research Institute, which is administered by the South Korea government, is working on an ambitious project. It is a train that will travel at 1,000 km/h. The project is planned for “the not too distant future”, according to those in charge of the project. The technology that will make this feat possible is at present being researched. And the fact is that, to achieve this speed in a form of land transport is not something that is currently close to being developed. In order to reach its goal, the Korea Railroad Research Institute is going to explore a form of technology that only exists on paper. It is the ‘hyperloop’, which is already being worked on by some private initiatives. However, perhaps the south Korean project is the first one to have the backing of state funds.
Current trains are limited by friction with tracks. This saps their power and thrust capacity. Even magnetic levitation or maglev trains encounter resistance to their progress: the air. What South Korean researchers are aiming for is to eliminate these restrictions, and Hyperloop technology offers a solution. And the thing is that, the trains here would travel in a vacuum tube.
Those in charge of the project predict that the journey between Seoul and Busan could take half an hour. Currently, the trip between the two cities takes 50 minutes by plane. By public transport, by land, it takes more than five hours.
Almost Supersonic Trains
The sound barrier is broken at the speed of 1,225 km/h (commercial aircraft have a cruising speed of between 900 and 1,000 km/h, that only Concorde and its Soviet equivalent, Tupolev Ty-144, have been able to break in civil aviation). The closest any land initiative has come to this barrier are the active hyperloop projects.
The theoretical initiative that Elon Musk put on the table has given rise to a number of companies. Each one of them is striving to implement the technology, which would enable speeds of up to 1,200 km/h. The sound barrier is very close. There are projects in the United States and other places, such as Europe. The Delft Hyperloop company has plans to build one of these futuristic trains between Amsterdam and Paris. The journey would most likely take less time than it takes you to get to work: 30 Minutes
However, this technology is still far away. The South Korean initiative seems more viable in the medium term, as do the Japanese transport plans. For now, the maximum speed reached by a train has been achieved by the Central Japan Railway, a Maglev currently under development that managed to slide by at 603 km/h in tests carried out in 2015. The company plans to begin operating this technology commercially in 2027.
Images: Yeong-N and Korea Railroad Research Institute