When traveling overseas or even across the country, we are forced to deal with long lines, disgruntled TSA agents, crying babies and hours of terrible movies. Airline travel has become such a hassle that this writer is more likely to embark on a multi-day road trip than hop on the next flight out of JFK. For years, TV shows and movies have imagined different and unique ways we might travel, but most of them are very far fetched in terms of currently-available technology. While various countries employ high-speed bullet trains, the airlines are still the fastest way to get from A to B for the time being. If one company’s technology manages to gain support, however, this might not be the case in the near future.
Imagine leaving London and arriving in New York in just 60 minutes. A futuristic vacuum train could cut the travel time between the two cities by nearly 90%, or even take travelers from Washington D.C. to Beijing in just two hours — all of this done without ever touching the sky.
A company called ET3 is currently selling licenses for its Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) system, which it claims is a safer, cheaper, greener and faster means of transportation. These futuristic “vactrains” are designed to travel through tunnels that have had all of the air sucked out of them to minimize friction, theoretically enabling the train to reach speeds of up to 4,000 miles per hour.
The concept of the modern vactrain was first introduced more than 100 years ago, when American engineer Robert Goddard drew up specs for a prototype in the 1910s while attending Clark University. Goddard’s original design conceptualized a vactrain traveling from Boston to New York at speeds of 1,000 mph, making the trip in a mere 12 minutes.
While the technology seems overwhelmingly complicated, resembling something you may find in a Hollywood blockbuster, experts suggest that we could see vactrains operational within the next 10 years. In fact, more than a dozen ET3 licenses have been sold in China, and more than 60 additional licenses have been sold in five different countries around the world, with several more expressing interest in the technology, according to the company’s website. According to the firm, it may only be a matter of time before we experience “Space Travel on Earth.”