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Evacuated Tube Transport

Updated on November 19, 2014

What if you could travel from New York to Los Angeles in just 45 minutes? Or leave from Washington DC and be in Beijing in two hours? If it sounds impossible now, it may not be in the near future. The brainchild of Daryl Oster, the revolutionary transport system called Evacuated Tube Transport may make it possible to commute daily across the country. Though still in the planning and prototype stage, the world may be getting smaller sooner than we think.

What it is -

Touted as the future "space travel on earth", the ETT will combine the genius of the maglev trains (magnetic levitation) already being used in Asia and Europe with travelling through an airless environment. Magnetic levitation borrows from basic grade school physics class - that opposite magnetic poles attract and like poles repel. Using this simple theory, tracks for the maglev trains have a magnetic field built in. By placing attractive forces in them, the train is levitated and pulled forward by linear propulsion. Maglev trains lack an engine and so are environmentally-friendly. While a conventional train will never top 80 mph, a maglev train can reach speeds of up to 300 mph. Think about how much faster they could go without all that air slowing them down.

The goal of the ETT is to propel levitated capsules down airless guider tubes. Without air, a vacuum is created. This means there is virtually no resistance and once the train gets up to speed it can coast along. The ETT will be able to attain amazing speed and it is estimated that speed may reach an impressive 4000 mph. Get ready to order your Chinese food from China.

The Capsules -

What will travelling on the ETT be like? Each capsule will be about the size of a car and weigh approximately 400 lbs. It will be able to carry a payload of 800 lbs. Capsules will hold six passengers at a time and the seats will be slightly reclined. Because they will be riding along an invisible magnetic cushion, travellers will have a quiet and comfortable ride. At stations, airlocks are provided to allow transfer of capsules without admitting air. What about safety? ET3, the company behind this transport innovation, assures us that the ETT is perfectly safe. Passengers will have no problem breathing because life-support apparatus used for years in submarines and space stations will be in place. Should an emergency occur, escape hatches are placed every mile or so along the tube. ET3 believes that both the system and security will be better than present day aircraft.

The Obstacles -

Of course a project of this magnitude will have its problems. Certainly both the railroad and airline industries will have objections since the ETT system will offer more affordable transportation, as little as a penny a mile. Oil companies may not be happy either though ET3 feels that the large amounts of plastics required for construction of the system will balance it out. Infrastructure will be a challenge though it is suggested that initially the system would utilize already established railroad lines. Governments will need to get involved and China has already taken the first step. They are building transport tubes now and hope to have them up and running in three years.

Funding -

Daryl Oster and his team are selling licenses for the rights to build the tubes and tracks. The license fee is 100 U.S. dollars. They are also trying to raise both private and public funding. China has purchased the most licenses though at least five other countries are involved. Plans are underway to broaden the public's knowledge about ETT by raising money to make a documentary about it.

Green -

The Evacuated Tube Transport would produce zero emissions even while travelling at incredibly high speeds. It would reduce the world's dependence on fossil fuels. The ETT is quiet. Though the whole concept seems futuristic, the modern vactrain was introduced almost 100 years ago by American engineer Robert Goddard who drew up specs while attending Clark University. His innovative idea in 1910 may become a reality soon.

Daryl Oster -

Daryl Oster is a big believer in efficiency. He first conceived of the idea of the Evacuated Tube Transport in the mid 1980s. He spent the next decade refining it. In 1999, Mr. Oster received the first ETT patent and went on to form and become the CEO of,Inc. with the goal of creating a sustainable global transportation system. The ETT patent documents were filed in 83 countries. Dr. Zhang Yaoping, a transportation engineer in China, contacted Oster when he came across the, Inc. website. Oster and his wife travelled to China to meet with Yaoping in 2002. Together they established an exchange between China's top technological universities and government agencies resulting in several research programs involving ETT and more than a dozen licensees have been sold in China. Daryl Oster studied mechanical engineering at Walla Walla College in Washington and has worked in the fields of agriculture, aeronautical and mechanical design.

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Update - Though the company is based in Colorado, USA, it seems China will still be taking the lead in utilizing the Evacuated Tube Transport. They have built a three mile test system which has been met with great enthusiasm though at lesser speeds to start. There is chatter that a rail is almost ready in the United States as well.


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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      It certainly sounds like the future of transportation. I hope it proves out. voted up, useful and interesting. Will share.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thanks, Titi.

      Thanks, Ben.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 4 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      The word awesome gets thrown around a lot, but in this case, it applies. Up and shared on facebook. Well done, thanks for taking us there Suzie. Get ready to order your Chinese from China~!!!! Hahaha, that made me laugh.


    • titi6601 profile image

      titi6601 4 years ago

      Wow, this is great.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thanks for reading my Hub!

    • profile image

      stessily 4 years ago

      suziecat7, This is absolutely fascinating! The ingenuity of curious inventors is as boundless as space. Thank you for presenting this information; 10 years is no time at all in these busy times.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas

      This is a very interesting concept and signals an even higher tech future than we could imagine....almost like a Star Trek Tranporter with minimal time elapse. I think our vehicles will one day run on a similar system with magnetic field roadways and computer systems which totally control the vehicles movements and speed according to conditions on the road at the time. I'll probably miss all that but it is coming. Nice job on this Suzie! ~WB

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Amazing. This is something I had thought about from time to time but am surprised that it actually exists. Thanks for bringing it to my atteention.

    • NathaNater profile image

      NathaNater 5 years ago

      Very fascinating information and an ingenious idea; amazing how they work, and interesting how long the idea has been around and who now is picking it up; and good news about the benefits of this kind of travel. When I was younger (long time ago), I used to have dreams about traveling in tubes like these; amazing how they're making moves to make it a reality. Good stuff, thanks much.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thanks Mpropp and Cyndi. It is quite fascinating. Glad you could stop by.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      Wow! This would be fantastic. Super information. It will be so interesting to see how soon China will get this into operation since they have already embraced it. What would be the cost of building a system like this, I wonder. Good article.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 5 years ago from Minnesota

      This is fascinating! I had never heard of this before. It seems like something out of a science fiction novel. But from what I understand, it seems like a great environmental advocate. This is the kind of technology we could really use. Thank you for sharing!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Aubrey - Thanks.

      B. Leekley - Thank you so much!

      Billy - We do need a super project to get this economy going. And this one would be perfect!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I never saw this when it came out, but it is fascinating. I've been a big proponent of building a new infra-structure all across America, and if that includes these or bullet trains or whatever, I would be for it to put people back to work. We need a super project to get this economy going.

      Great hub; loved it!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Martie - You're welcome.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Up, Useful, Awesome, Interesting, Fantastic, and shared.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Wrenfrost - the oil companies have much power though - thanks you so much for reading.

    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      A.E. Williams 5 years ago from Hampton, GA

      Umm... awesomeness, Suzie!! That would be amazing to see in my lifetime. Travelling is time consuming, but with this new thingy majig, I'm sure it'll be awesome!! :) Nice work.


    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      Suziecat, I can clearly see evacuated tube transport in the future. Thank you for sharing this information :)

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Drbj - They hope to have enough diversion in the capsules to keep folks from becoming claustrophobic like movies and internet. It is pretty amazing. Thanks as always for reading.

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 5 years ago from U.K.

      Space travel on earth, fascinating. Wow, just imagine how much faster we could get everywhere! I'm not too worried about how the oil companies will be affected, but your right I doubt they will be happy about this travel inovation. Another great hub siziecat7. :)

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thanks, Sandra.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Kevin - glad you enjoyed. Thanks for reading.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      WillStarr - They answer many of those questions on their website. You can check out for info. It is interesting and I appreciate you stopping by.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Where do I buy my ETT ticket, Suzie? I am all in. Those who are adventurous will love this ride. Those who are claustrophobic - not so much!

    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 5 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      Well I never. Thank you for sharing this information which I for one was completely unaware of. How exciting. Voted up, awesome, and shared.

    • KevinC9998 profile image

      KevinC9998 5 years ago

      This was an extremely interesting and thought provoking hub which I voted Up and Awesome! Thanks, Kevin

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      This is somewhat similar to an idea I've been toying with for some 20 years, but this is far better. I like far! I do see some heavy g-forces involved in accelerating to 4000 MPH and then decelerating, all in less than an hour. I also wonder about relatively short hops, like Phoenix to LA.

      Very cool Hub, Suzie!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      yoginijoy - It is pretty exciting. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Writer20 - Oster hopes to have it up and running in 10 years. China is already working on it and there may be a short section built in California. So you may see it yet. Thank you so much for your comment.

    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Wow! I cannot wait! I might have to get frozen so it will be built so I can ride in it. That is totally awesome! Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Great hub. Voting up and interesting!

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Your hub is very interesting. If only that would happen sooner rather than late. If it takes as long as the British train to Paris called the Chunnel

      it won't be in my lifetime.

      Voted up and interesting, Joyce.