LA to San Francisco in just 30 minutes – Elon Musk’s Hyperloop

Tesla Founder Elon Musk on Hyperloop

Tesla Founder Elon Musk on Hyperloop

“Something that would never crash, immune to weather, 3-4 times faster than Bullet Train, double the speed of an aircraft and would travel LA to San Francisco in just 30 minutes”.

These are the exact words from Tesla Founder Elon Musk. The idea that took birth in 1972 in the form of Very High Speed Transit System (VHST). The concept was put forward by R.M. Salter from Rand Corporation that detailed an underground system that could send people LA to San Francisco in just 21 minutes.

Elon Musk is trying to unearth the same idea, creatively called “Hyperloop”, is better than a Bullet train as per his claims. It would drop people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in half an hour. At a recent press meet, he was quite vague about the idea but he seems to have belief in it.

In 1972, there were technical glitches associated with VHST. In 2013, it doesn’t seem like a distant reality.

Technical know-how

The principal remains the same as that of VHST; electromagnetically levitated and propelled cars in an evacuated tunnel. It would be like surfboard riding the ocean waves. The VHST would be a vacuum sealed tube that would zip across the country.

The Electromagnetic waves are generated by pulsed or oscillating currents in electrical conductors that form the roadbed structure in the evacuated tube-way.

Speed as high as 14000 mph have already been tested by Rand Corporation; which gives all the more reason to Elon to execute the idea.

How about environment?

VHST would be very efficient in terms of conservation of energy. It will accelerate, coast for a while and regain the same energy while decelerating. No climbing altitudes like planes, no fuel combustion, nothing. So, it is pollution free and environment friendly.

Giving an alternative transport which will be connected to subways and will have multi stoppage points will definitely solve majority of the problems. Problems like reducing surface congestion, grade separation problems and noise pollution are eliminated. Along with reducing the problems it will help in sharing of facilities (like Oil, water, Gas, Superconductors, Laser Communication) thereby paying the cost of the tunnel (90% of the cost would be building tunnels).


Setting up such a sytem is a challenge. The most demanding of them all is the lateral acceleration. Working with EM waves also requires detailed specifications with precise radius that it can turn with (which was a challenge in 1972 too).

Also if 90% of the cost is involved with building tunnels, then would it be wise to deploy the resources and come up with underground transport facility? Even if that is taken care of, then political and construction issues are waiting in the queue too.

Path breaking ideas require real good effort along with real good execution. Looking at the crude crises, the pollution & environment problems and alternative transport solutions, underground transport facility will be a savior for sure.

Detailed 1972 report

Know more about Hyperloop

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About the Author:

Engineer turned dancer turned choreographer turned Business professional. Finally into design. Dancer/ choreographer at heart.

  • Daryl Oster

    ET3 tm (first patent in 1999 others issued and pending) does more than Musk claims for ‘hyperloop’. We show how ET3 can be built for less than 1/30th the cost of Salter’s ‘planetrain’ described in the RAND paper. see http://www.et3.com

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