South Korea to develop train that can travel at the ‘speed of sound’

The train would make use of Hyperloop technology. Pic: Inverse

THE government-run Korea Railroad Research Institute (KRRI) announced plans to develop a revolutionary new train that can travel as fast as 1,000 km per hour.

The train – which is said to be ready in the not-too-distant-future – will shuttle travelers between Seoul and Busan, and will cut travel time to 30 minutes. Currently, the journey between the two cities takes about two and a half hours, while a plane ride is just under an hour.

The Korea Times reported that the “hyper-tube” technology is akin to Hyperloop technology first revolutionized by Elon Musk. Hyperloop sees magnetic train pods zip through low-pressure tubes at fantastic speeds.

Currently, the fastest ground transport in the world is magnetic levitation or maglev trains, which can travel at about 500 km per hour.

Because of the nonexistence of friction, the force that slows down conventional trains between wheels and tracks, the hyper-tube pods can zip by in record speeds.

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A KRRI spokesperson said, “We hope to create an ultra-fast train, which will travel inside a state-of-the-art low-pressure tube at lighting speeds, in the not-too-distant future.”

The company added that it would work with other institutions to solve drawbacks the Hyperloop currently faces, such as threats from terrorism or natural disasters.

In December, South Korea’s Supreme Railways (SR) launched its super rapid trains (SRT) to popular locations including Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, and Gwangju. SR rivals the country’s popular rail service, Korail.

With rail services proving to be cheaper and quicker, less tourists will opt for domestic flights. A one-way journey from Seoul to Busan by air is around the US$60 mark and takes approximately 55 minutes without taking into account time for check-in and boarding.

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