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Tube travel concept appears not that far out

A Florida inventor’s space travel on Earth idea could make the Alberta government stop high-speed rail in its tracks.

Daryl Oster believes his Evacuated Tube Travel is the way to go and he and his team are selling licences for the rights to build the tracks and tubes.

People would travel in car-sized capsules through giant long vacuum tubes at speeds of up to 6,440 km/h (4,000 mph) for continental and intercontinental distances, and local distances at speeds below 320 km/h (200 mph).

“Just going fast does not affect the human body,” says Oster’s website. “Astronauts in orbit travel faster than 20,000 mph (32,000 km/h).”

The capsules are pressurized and have plenty of air. They move through the airless tube on a magnetic track and all movement is controlled by manipulating the magnetic forces that are at play between the track and the capsule, according to Discovery News.

Prototypes, or production components for all of the individual systems exist now, according to Oster’s website.

Oster said this technology can be built for one-10th of the cost of high-speed rail and one-quarter the cost of a freeway.

The tubes can be made of any durable substance that is capable of holding a vacuum.

Red Deer County resident Kevin Mooney suggested in a letter to the editor, published in the Nov. 17 edition of the Advocate, that “Red Deer has the potential to be a demonstration pilot for evacuated tube transport.”

“The technology exists,” he said. “We just need the political will.”

Mooney said Thursday he wondered about this technology ever since he was a boy, when he saw a department store transporting cash via a vacuum tube up to the cash office.

He said this technology would also be good for transporting goods because it would move much faster and with less friction.

“We’re reaching the limits of conventional rail,” said Mooney.

Alberta Transportation spokesman John Lear said it’s an interesting concept.

“Alberta Transportation is always looking at new technologies, but I don’t think this was on our radar,” he said.



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