A vactrain is a proposed, as-yet-unbuilt design for future high-speed railroad transportation. This would entail building maglev lines through evacuated (air-less) or partly evacuated tubes or tunnels. Though the technology is currently being investigated for development of regional networks, advocates have suggested establishing vactrains for transcontinental routes to form a global network. The lack of air resistance could permit vactrains to use little power and to move at extremely high speeds, up to (4000-5000 mph (6400–8000 km/h) or 5-6 times the speed of sound at sea level and standard conditions), according to the Discovery Channel's Extreme Engineering's program "Transatlantic Tunnel".
Theoretically, vactrain tunnels could be built deep enough to pass under oceans, thus permitting very rapid intercontinental travel. Vactrains could also use gravity to assist their acceleration. If such trains went as fast as predicted, the trip between London and New York would take less than an hour, effectively supplanting aircraft as the world's fastest mode of public transportation.
However, without major advances in tunnelling and other technology, vactrains would be prohibitively expensive. Alternatives such as elevated concrete tubes with partial vacuums have been proposed to reduce costs.
The modern concept of a vactrain, with evacuated tubes and maglev technology, was explored in the 1910s by American engineer Robert Goddard who designed detailed prototypes while a university student. His train would have traveled from Boston to New York in 12 minutes, averaging 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h). The train designs were found only after Goddard's death in 1945.
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