Speed and Efficiency: Evacuated Tube Transport
(Adopted version, with many thanks to the author of the original script at: ioserver.com)

Vehicular road and rail traffic move the most people and products, but are unsustainable in the long term due to their inefficiency and negative impact on the environment. Evacuated tube transport reduces CO2 emissions, pollution and cost considerably as compared to current transportation systems. The magnetically levitated capsules can operate at 1/50 of the energy of even electric cars and high-speed trains. The overall cost can be just 1/10 of rail development and 1/4 of a new freeway project.

The tube transport system, using a tube of just 1.5 m in diameter, can move 94% of all cargo and passengers at very high speeds. The trip between Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands would take less than 7 minutes at the estimated cruising speed of 600 km/h. Because of the high speed and extra efficiency, the cost per kilometer is greatly reduced over traditional transportation. As the distance is increased and speed lowered, the energy cost reduces further.

The system, unlike modern railways, would not schedule runs but instead be demand driven 24 hours per day. Traffic will commence only when the route is set and arrival time is calculated in a conflict-free way. Ticket price can be malleable: a base charge plus a charge varying with time of day and energy use. People, of course, would cost more to transport due to higher priority and life support requirements. Moving cargo would be very cost effective due to its lower priority.

Transportation currently uses over 61% of all the oil used by every industry each year. Rising fuel prices will not affect the evacuated tube transportation costs. With no drag or friction, capsule acceleration energy can be regained during deceleration at the end of a journey. This system has a low environmental impact, is independent on weather conditions, is not disruptive to wildlife and is very economical when it comes to land use.

A 3000 km long system servicing the Netherlands can easily transport 1-2 million passengers daily and over 100 billion ton-km of cargo every year would cost around Euro 10-13 billion plus the cost of the land. 


ET3 Cost Benefit Risk

Provides new degree in freedom of mobility
Increases value of land in remote areas
Reduces energy use by 98% and CO2 emissions by 100%
Runs 24/7 on demand, eliminating waste of empty busses and trains.
Reduces travel time and traffic congestion drastically
Eliminates vehicle, train, aircraft noise and vibration
Improves road safety and reduces accident fatalities
Not affected by weather or temperature
Low impact on the environment and wild life
Greatly reduces fuel consumption
Cleaner and more efficient than any other transport system
Creates new jobs, increases tourism and generates more revenue
Risks and Unintended Events
Possible malfunctions and unforeseen accidents
Cataclysmic events such as flood and earthquakes
Continental drift and land mass movements
Population shift to less populated areas
Rate of infectious disease spread increased
Product of steel, concrete and plastics
Loss of jobs in industries affected by fuel price

Capital cost, financial and operational performance of ET3 network

Calculates the cost (in Euro) and performance of an ET3 network given the average distance travelled, length of the network, the expected number of passenger trips per workday and cargo capacity.  Use Google Chrome if the graph does not appear.

Cruising speed km/h Network length km '000 trips/workday 
Billion ton-km cargo/year Tube Diameter m Maximum G force
ct/passenger/km  ct/ton-km for cargo 
Network Parameters ms CPU time
Optimise speed for Lowest capital cost Lowest ticket price Highest return
Cruising Speed km/h. At cruising speed, very little energy is used. Most of the energy is used to accelerate the capsule to cruising speed. If this value is zero, it use a binary search method to find the optimal speed. The search interval is halved at each iteration. At low speed, the cost of capsules dominates. At high speed the cost of the approaches dominates.
Average distance km traveled Network total length km
Thousand passenger trips per workday Billion ton-km of cargo per year
Tube Diameter m and passenger seating width x length
Capital Costs
Land acquisition cost million Network cost million
Approaches cost million (over estimate) Station cost million
Number of capsules required to handle peak hour traffic.  Passenger capsule cost million
Number of cargo capsules.  Cargo capsule cost million (over estimate)
Extra airlocks Total cost million
Number of set of airlocks required to handle peak passenger traffic. Each mid station requires at least four airlocks. Each airlock can handle 116 capsules per hour. Transiting passengers will not need to go through airlocks. Stations that have multiple set of airlocks are less expensive because the approaches can be combined at an extra cost of 50% irrespective of the number of airlocks. Stations that can handle cargo have vacuum storage facilities to store pallets waiting for shipping or pallets outside waiting for collection.
Cost Factors
Cost of station in Euro per passenger per hour Cost Euro of each capsule
% Inflation to apply to above two costs, which were calculated in 2003.
ct per ton per km for shipping cargo. During the first year of operation only cargo will be allowed.
ct per km for pricing ticket Steel Price Euro/ton * 2 (for support and construction cost)
* Average Distance = Maximum length of each tube segment Price of electricity in Euro/kwh
Wh/km/passenger % Extra cargo capacity
Length of station approach in m. Dedicated cargo stations require less approach and are thus cheaper to build because the cargo can withstand higher G forces. An exiting capsule will decelerate before reaching the branch point so that it exits the branch point before the following vehicle is within the minimum distance. This model assumes a worst case scenario of 1 set of airlocks per station.  
Income and Expenses
% Passenger capacity used Gross annual income from workday passengers million
% Cargo capacity used. Gross annual income from cargo million
Passenger traffic at peak hour. Energy cost million
Liquid Nitrogen cost million
% Operation & Maintenance rate Operation and maintenance million
% Insurance rate Self insurance/replacement fund million
% Interest cost of funding. Net income million
Non-workdays passenger income are not counted. Passengers fares are half price on weekends or public holidays.
Ticket pricing for passenger and cargo
The base price of a ticket to cover interest.  Currency / US $
Distance for calculating ticket price and travel time. Energy surcharge factor
Price per pallet for cargo.  Travel Time
Price per trip. Base price plus a distance charge and energy used. 
Stations, capsules and tube sizing

Hours in a local workday, use a value of 24 for a global network. The expected number of passengers trips per workday is divided by this value to determine the peak hour passenger traffic that the network must be able to handle. Lower this number to increase the number of stations and capsules. Spare network capacity are used for cargo and low priority traffic.

Capsule turnaround time in minutes. The time difference between its arrival at the station to its departure for an empty capsule. Capsules will be sent to where there are needed even if they are empty or partially filled. Capsules will be waiting for passengers, not passengers waiting for capsules.
The number of passengers that can be transported by each capsule in a day in one direction, the capsules are empty going in the return direction. 
billion ton-km of cargo shipments per year. Cargo stations does not require airlocks and can handle capsules at a much faster rate.
Unused cargo capacity billion ton-km per year.  Annual billion passengers-km 
Number of tube segments Capsule Length m
Tube Thickness mm Minimum distance m between capsules
Steel ton / km for each tube Capsules per hour at cruising speed
Cost of two tubes in million/km Capsule spacing during peak traffic m

Energy Consumption for various modes of transportation

Bicycle Prius HST Transrapid Boeing 787 ET3
Air Drag Coefficient Cd
Frontal Area m2
Rolling Resistance Coefficient
Magnetic Levitation kW/ton to overcome rolling resistance
Air Pressure Bar
Weight Empty kg
Cruising Speed km/h
Distance km
Acceleration/Retardation G
Jerk m/s^3
Regenerative Braking efficiency %
Total Weight kg
Top Speed km/h
Acceleration Time
Acceleration Distance km
Acceleration Power Watts
Rolling Resistance Watts
Air Drag Watts
Total Watts
Elapsed Time
Fuel Consumption L/100km/Passenger
Annual Energy cost million
Annual mt of CO2 emitted
Weight kg/Passenger Air Density Fuel Price Euro/L

Last updated: 01 January 2014