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Culture / Travel

Super Speed Tube Travel Threatens to Lap Texas’ New Bullet Train

Houston to San Antonio in Under Nine Minutes — Who Needs Rail?

BY // 09.19.17

Could Hyperloop One knock Texas Central’s high-speed rail off the tracks? Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s futuristic tube travel may be coming to Texas — and it could take passengers from Dallas to Houston twice as fast as the already-in-progress bullet train.

Back in April, a proposed route connecting Texas’ major cities was chosen as a semi finalist in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge, a competition that could determine the location of the first Hyperloop network. Now, Hyperloop’s named Texas one of 10 worldwide winners of the global challenge.

Hyperloop One would use vacuum technology to send large passenger pods through tubes, accelerating to speeds of 700 MPH.

The Hyperloop Texas route, headed by engineering firm AECOM, would connect Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Laredo and Houston. All of the trips would take well under an hour – Houston to San Antonio would be an 8.4 minute trip, Dallas to Austin would require a mere 19 minute zip.

The announcement doesn’t guarantee funding or a timeline of next steps, but it shows that Hyperloop Texas is among the most feasible routes for Hyperloop technology. However, it’s fair to say that the technology isn’t exactly feasible anywhere at this point.

The company has been running tests on a 500 meter track in Nevada, and as of July, the pod reached speeds of 192 MPH.

Nevertheless, Hyperloop One aims to begin transporting passengers by 2021. It’s unlikely that the U.S. will be the first place to see this technology take shape, let alone Texas. Still, if Hyperloop Texas was selected as the initial route, the ultra-futuristic pod travel could take off around the same time as the Texas bullet train, which is scheduled to begin construction in late 2018.

AECOM is also working on and supporting the Texas Central rail project, and the company says that the bullet train is much closer to becoming a reality than Hyperloop.

“The excitement around Hyperloop is in its potential to reimagine transportation by eliminating the barriers of distance and time,” AECOM CEO Michael S. Burke says in a statement.

AECOM represented five of the winning routes in the Hyperloop Global Challenge. It also proposed routes for Colorado, Florida, Canada and India.

For the next step, Hyperloop One will bring together government and industry partners for a Global Summit around Hyperloop One technology in early 2018.

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