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Hyperloop-esque floating trains are coming to Northern England



Rail passengers in Northern England could one day be zipping between cities on levitating trains as part of a vision to cut down journey times.

Plans are being hatched by Transport for the North to build a lightning quick railway connection from Liverpool to Hull via Manchester and Leeds that slices journey times down to a matter of minutes.

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Using maglev technology, the trains would be capable of topping 300mph and it’s believed to be the first time the tech has been used outside Japan.

To illustrate just how much quicker the line will be, Liverpool to Hull currently takes more than three hours and involves at least two changes. On the maglev that journey would take just 29 minutes.

It will take seven minutes to travel from Liverpool to Manchester, nine minutes from Manchester to Leeds, and the final leg between Leeds and Hull would be a mere 13 minutes long.

Maglev Northern England

The maglev technology will allow small pods to travel at very high speeds through tunnels, levitating above the tracks using powerful electromagnets.

This all comes at quite a cost though, with the initial line between Manchester and Leeds priced at between £2.2 billion and £3.7 billion.

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop project is also eyeing up the UK as a possible place for a route. Musk’s tech would see trains propelled at 760mph to link London and Manchester in just 18 minutes.

When you combine the poor state of the country’s rail network with the fact the UK is leaving the EU, providing a faster connection between cities in the British Isles makes a lot of sense.

However, it’s unlikely to be here any time soon, so prepare to put up with the current situation for a while longer.

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Which journey needs maglev the most? Let us know in the comments below.


March 8, 2017, 5:23 pm

Ahh the hyperloop. One small hole and everybody dies. If that ever makes it off the ground I'll eat not only my hat but my feet.

Also, considering Leeds in the North can't even get a tram when people are getting fired due to the crap bus service never getting them to work on time, I doubt we'll ever see a maglev train either. Call me cynical but if we're going to do it, we'll do it expensively, badly and never maintain it properly... Just like the rest of the transport infrastructure.


March 8, 2017, 6:45 pm

What are you on about ?
The first maglev service in the world was at Birmingham airport and currently a track in Germany and China and hyper loop and maglev don't really have anything to do with each other.


March 8, 2017, 6:55 pm

I believe.
Scrap HS2 though, first!


March 9, 2017, 9:18 am

couldn't agree more. we will never stump up the cash for this, especially as they are wasting £50b+ on HS2 (which will end up being £100b once they realise they forgot VAT and other things).
And if they ever did build it, no one would use it as tickets would probably be £1000 return. Or there would be no drivers as they will be on strike!
I think hyperloop or something similar will materialise one day though. As a concept its fine. could argue a small hole in the channel tunnel would be a problem, but that's been ok...?


March 9, 2017, 11:47 am

The hyperloop sounds good but doesn't stand up to any scrutiny. The main issue is that you're creating the conditions of the edge of space in a long tube which will expand and contract. Then you need to propel an object through this tube using methods which require higher air density. The tech for this is in existence but equally has massive limitations. Honestly there are so many issues here I can't list them all.

The main issue is safety. A breach in the channel tunnel is likely to be small rather than catastrophic (although this is possible) but equally the tunnel is defended from terrorists and idiots. The hyperloop will be (well, won't as it'll never be built on any large scale) running alongside major roads for ease of maintenance and building and so vulnerable to a car crash or a terrorist incident. To give you an idea, a small hole in the channel tunnel would be bad but it wouldn't kill everyone immediately. A small hole in the hyperloop would cause a catastrophic shock wave to go down the loop far faster than any emergency mechanisms could stop the cars in transit and seal sections off and kill everyone. It would be like being fired out of a gun.

This is before you look at the length of the proposed routes and calculate just how much expansion and contraction there will be. It's huge. Like football pitch huge. Trying to maintain a vacuum under those conditions is just madness!

Honestly, just sit for 10 minutes and critically examine the issues around the hyperloop without the Musk factor. No matter how much money you throw at this, it's just not practical due to the problems imposed by basic physics.

A maglev is a far better solution. I wouldn't get in a hyperloop if you paid me. The whole prospect is insane and isn't even new. Similar systems have been proposed for years and not happened because they are just not practical and you just can't engineer your way around the laws of physics.

For further information about how the hyperloop is mad, I suggest looking for a video by "thunderf00t" on youtube. I think it's called "the hyperloop - busted". He's a scientist and goes through all the maths you need to understand it as well as practical demonstrations.

Malcolm Watt

March 9, 2017, 5:09 pm

This isn't the first time maglev has been suggested for the trans Pennine route.
A plan was put forward in 2008, by UK Ultraspeed, to build this
style of maglev from Liverpool calling
at John Lennon, east Manchester, Trafford Centre, a spur to Manchester
Airport, then on to West Yorkshire and Leeds. The three city service
would take 39 minutes, a stopping service 50 mins. The route would be
OVER the Pennines, not under it in an expensive tunnel. Cost was
estimated at about £5bn. Spurs could be added to major cities and to the
Leeds / Bradford airport.
This was part of UK Ultraspeed's project to
join Glasgow to London at Stratford and Heathrow Airport via Edinburgh,
Newcastle, and Teesside, going south via Birmingham and the West
Midlands. Total cost was estimated at around £20 bn.

Malcolm Watt

March 9, 2017, 5:10 pm


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