China makes a step closer to high-speed ‘flying trains’

China claims to have become the first country in the world to conduct a successful test run of a high-speed train powered by vacuum, or ‘vactrain’, technology.

Chinese researchers tested the train along a track of about 2 kilometres in Shanxi province in northern China.

During the test, the train reached up to 128 km/h inside a vacuum tube, according to a state-run China Daily newspaper report.

The scientific team’s goal is to eventually build a 59-kilometres test track where the train can reach speeds of up to 1,000 km/h.

According to the researchers, this is the first successful demonstration of a maglev train moving in a vacuum tube.

China train
The Boring Company Cars

Scientists worldwide are currently working on hyperloop technology, which is highly used globally in the form of high-speed bullet trains. Many countries have revealed their plans for high-speed trains (even ‘flying trains’) and presented futuristic transportation modes promising to cut travel times between major cities down to minutes.
China started working intensively on the ‘flying train’ project almost five years ago. The so-called ‘T-Flight’ projects promised to multiply ten times the speed currently reached by the fastest train in the world or quadruple the speed of commercial flights. China claims to be close to this futuristic scenario under the recently conducted tests.
According to what China announced in 2017 with its promising project, the flying trains will consist of a series of capsules that utilize magnetic levitation to reach these supersonic speeds.

Elon Musk’s vision

While magnetic trains are an established but rare form of transportation, the concept of a vactrain has yet to materialize.

Perhaps the most famous idea of ​​a train moving in large vacuum tubes is Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, which was first mentioned in 2012. Despite the optimism and early testing, we have yet to see a full-scale Hyperloop system built, let alone put into operation.

Earlier this year, Musk claimed that his company, The Boring Company, would eventually attempt to build an underground Hyperloop within the next few years.

“In the coming years, Boring Co will attempt to build a working Hyperloop. From a known physics standpoint, this is the fastest possible way of getting from one city center to another for distances less than ~2000 miles. Starship is faster for longer journeys,” Musk wrote on Twitter.

China Train
The Boring Company – Tunnels

Elon Musk founded The Boring Company in 2013 to revolutionize transportation, and he put out a white paper to describe his vision for a futuristic transportation system.

Back in April 2022, The Boring Company Series C funding was announced, and the financing now values the company at $5.675 billion. According to Musk, to “solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic, roads must go 3D. Tunnels minimize usage of valuable surface land and do not conflict with existing transportation systems. A large network of tunnels can alleviate congestion in any city”.

To solve traffic, enable rapid point-to-point transportation and transform cities, The Boring Company also visualizes not only ‘flying trains’ but also ‘flying cars’ and a variety of equally futuristic means of transportation.

George Mavridis is a freelance journalist and writer based in Greece. His work primarily covers tech, innovation, social media, digital communication, and politics. He graduated from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication. Also, he holds an MA in Media and Communication Studies from the Malmö University of Sweden and an MA in Digital Humanities from the Linnaeus University of Sweden.