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Hyperloop wants to change the world. Not everyone's convinced.

November 20, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Hyperloops burst onto the scene in 2013. Elon Musk detailed a new type of train service in a low-pressure tube that would reach speeds up to 760 mph. The train would float on a cushion of air and be powered down the tracks by magnets.

Magnetic levitation was already used on high-speed trains in Japan and Germany, and low-pressure pneumatic tubes have been used to move objects since the early 19th century.

For all the excitement, hyperloops remain an unproven technology that attempts to modernize the idea of marrying trains to pneumatic tubes, and that idea was abandoned long ago for rail travel due to its limitations, among them speed and cost.

Roger Goodall, a Loughborough University professor who studies rail, told CNN Business that's he's been surprised at recent investments in hyperloops given drawbacks he sees, including its cost and its ridership capacity.

Contrary to Musk's projections, Goodall views Hyperloop as a more expensive version of magnetic levitation trains, which he said already struggle to prove that they're as affordable as traditional high-speed rail trains.

On top of the costs of magnetic levitation, hyperloop companies will also have to pay for an enclosed tube that's keep at low pressure, even though at least one company, Virgin Hyperloop, maintains that operating costs can be kept low.

Hyperloop tracks will also have to be of higher quality than traditional high-speed rail or magnetic levitation, Goodall said, to ensure a smooth ride quality.

Virgin Hyperloop declined to comment on how its overall costs of construction and operation compared to traditional high-speed rail and maglev projects, but said it offered cost savings in certain situations, such as tunneling under a busy street and making tight turns.

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