Urban Transport

Elon Musk claims green light for Hyperloop linking NYC and Washington

Elon Musk claims green light f...
The Boring Company aims to make tunneling more cheaper and more efficient
The Boring Company aims to make tunneling more cheaper and more efficient
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The Boring Company aims to make tunneling more cheaper and more efficient
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The Boring Company aims to make tunneling more cheaper and more efficient
The Boring Company has already begun a test tunnel at its LA headquarters
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The Boring Company has already begun a test tunnel at its LA headquarters
Elon Musk on Twitter
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Elon Musk on Twitter
The Boring Company aims to build tunnels that ferry regular cars along special sleds
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The Boring Company aims to build tunnels that ferry regular cars along special sleds
Elon Musk on Twitter
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Elon Musk on Twitter
Elon Musk first described the Hyperloop in a 2013 white paper
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Elon Musk first described the Hyperloop in a 2013 white paper
Elon Musk on Twitter
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Elon Musk on Twitter

Could Elon Musk's tunneling company go from nothing to responsible for one of the biggest infrastructure projects the US has ever seen, inside the space of a year no less? Maybe. The tech tycoon today claimed he has received verbal approval from the US government to build a high-speed underground transport link between New York and Washington, cutting travel time between the cities to just 29 minutes.

Elon Musk on Twitter
Elon Musk on Twitter

Musk did elaborate on his initial tweet, stating "City center to city center in each case, with up to a dozen or more entry/exit elevators in each city," followed by, "Still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval, but am optimistic that will occur rapidly."

In December last year, trains began carrying passengers through the world's longest tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the construction of which involved burrowing through the Swiss Alps for 17 years. That particular tube measures 35 mi (57 km) long. The distance between New York and Washington DC, as the crow flies, is 328 km (204 mi). That not only gives an indication of how long it might be before such a tunnel enters service, but the monumental engineering challenges that stand in Musk's way.

But then again, overcoming monumental engineering challenges is kind of what Musk is about, with his recycled rocket ventures and electric vehicle exploits and all. And The Boring Company was set up specifically to make tunneling much more efficient than it is today, primarily by cutting the cost and significantly speeding things up.

It has recently started work on a test tunnel at its headquarters in LA, while Musk has held "promising" talks with the mayor of that city, and now seemingly done the same with others about taking his tunneling ventures eastward.

The announcement also marks the first time that Musk has explicitly linked his tunneling company with the Hyperloop concept, which was first described in a white paper back in 2013 and has since been taken up by a number of startups. That transport system would shoot passengers and cargo through near-vacuum tubes at close to the speed of sound. When it comes to the work of The Boring Company's, Musk has described tunnel networks that cars can enter from the street to be shot along at 124 mph (200 km/h) aboard specially designed sleds.

The Boring Company aims to build tunnels that ferry regular cars along special sleds
The Boring Company aims to build tunnels that ferry regular cars along special sleds

So how the Hyperloop fits into this latest plan isn't exactly clear. But then again, neither is how Musk plans to get the various bodies onboard, like the federal, state, local and environmental authorities, and then go on digging the biggest tunnel the world has ever seen.

Are these public announcements a subtle way of whipping up public excitement about something that might otherwise be described as a pipe dream? Quite possibly. When it comes to a man that is simultaneously trying to build a colony on Mars and publicly enamored with flooring, who really knows.

Elon Musk on Twitter
Elon Musk on Twitter

Source: Twitter (Elon Musk)

5 comments
S Michael
I say let the congress people be the first one on it for financing this boon dongle.
WilliamSager
I think we should wait to see this boring device in use first.
VincentWolf
Just a boring device. We can do better. How about these apples: Pave roads with Stainless steel (lasts forever), install ultra strong neodymium magnets below the BEV batteries like on the Tesla S P100D. Gear the car for a top speed of about 300 to 400 mph (doable with 1200+ HP on tap using same motor in front and back axles). Install wireless charging under the roadbed so smaller batteries are needed. Drive like a madman around 90 degrees corners and feel comfortable in the fact those ultra strong magnets won't allow the car to slide or rollover! Super fast surface transportation.
ei3io
We know Elon is intelligent but like so many others he suffers from narrow focused marketing drive for his Batteries running on wheels. This overrules the obvious wisdom as blind thinking drives drilling thru the earth to solve traffic problems with MASSIVE infrastructure expenses and many logistical design problems. This boring idea with its hyped up very few loops won't serve the billions still stuck in traffic and therefore is so much worse than simply flying overhead in the wide open spaces, Up there travel will be much faster and can eventually be done with much more efficiency where there is no infrastructure beyond computer navigation and controls. But Elon says it scares him to think of things falling out of the sky when a well operating navigation control system will very largely prevent accidents from happening after the few early learning curve anomalies might occur but will be solved and will ultimately be eliminated. Flying will always be and always has been the safest form of travel by far.
Bruce H. Anderson
A really, really long tunnel? I don't know what kind of order-of-magnitude increases Mr. Musk's machines are expected to provide when compared to existing tunneling technology. Even at 8 times the speed, we are talking around 8 years. And does anyone remember the Big Dig? The plan seems to be to drive your car to the city center, and then end up in another city center. I assume there will be no traffic/parking to contend with on either end. Transport time from DC to NY is a proposed 29 minutes, but gate to gate via commercial airlines is 73 minutes. An improvement, but perhaps improvement for improvement's sake. Securing a car to this rocket sled will be no mean feat considering the G-forces and speeds involved. I would think that building a dedicated high-speed rail line above the existing ones, and transport just the people, would be a better (although kind of wacky) option. The taxi/Uber/Lyft people near the stations can take it from there.