Speed and Efficiency: Evacuated Tube Transport

Vehicular roadway 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 energy usage, CO2 emissions, pollution and cost. The magnetically levitated capsules can operate at 1/50 of the energy usage of electric cars and high-speed trains. The overall cost can be just 1/10 of rail development and ¼ of a new freeway project.

The tube transport system, using a tube 1.5m in diameter, can move 94% of all cargo and passengers at high speeds. The trip between Sydney and Melbourne, Australia would take about 23 minutes at an estimated cruising speed of 2600 km/h. Because of the high speed and efficiency, the cost per kilometer is greatly reduce over traditional transportation. As the distance is increased, the energy cost reduces further.

The system, unlike 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 order to avoid conflicts. Ticket price is based on a fixed charge, distance traveled, time of day, passenger and luggage weight and energy usage. People, of course, would cost more to transport due to life support requirements. Moving cargo would be very cost effective due to its lower priority.

Transportation costs currently use more than 61% of all the oil used by every industry each year. Rising fuel prices will not affect this evacuated tube transportation method. With no drag or friction resistance, most acceleration energy can be recovered during deceleration at the end of a journey. This system has a low environmental impact, is not disruptive to wildlife and have a very small footprint when it comes to land use.

A system servicing the eastern coast regions of Australia with an approximate length of over 1,748 km can transport 150,000 passengers every day and 3.5 billion tons km of cargo every year would cost around $12 billion plus the cost of the land.

Before this technology can be used to create a world-wide efficient transportation, it should be demonstrated. The Sydney to Newcastle link offers 120 km where the evacuated tube transport system can be tested up to 3000 km/h speeds. 

View all the Javascript calculations on the web page by right clicking anywhere and selecting “View Source.” Anyone is welcome to conduct their independent calculations before viewing our data or to check the calculations. Feel free to contact Philip Wong at ioserver@ioserver.com with any corrections, comments or critique of this proposal. 


ET3 Cost Benefit Risk

Reduction in energy usage and CO2 emissions by 98%
Runs 24/7 on demand, eliminating waste of nearly empty busses and trains.
Reduces travel time and traffic congestion
No vehicle, train or aircraft noise
Improves road safety and reduces accident fatalities
Not affected by weather or temperature
Low impact on the environment and wild life
Cleaner and more efficient than any other transport system
Increase tourism and revenue
Management Needed for 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
Increase spreading rate of infectious disease

Capital cost, financial and operational performance of ET3 networks

Calculates the cost and performance of a ET3 network given the average distance traveled, length of the network, the expected number of passenger trips per workday and cargo capacity.  

Cruising speed km/h Network length km '000 trips/workday 
Billion ton-km cargo/year Tube Diameter m Maximum G force
¢/passenger/km  ¢/ton-km for cargo  1/Air Pressure
Network Parameters ms CPU time
Optimise speed for Lowest ticket price Lowest capital cost Highest return Lowest ticket price * time Lowest capital cost * time
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 uses 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 Cargo/Passenger ratio
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 138 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. Stations that can handle cargo have vacuum storage facilities to store pallets waiting for shipping or pallets outside waiting for collection.
Cost Factors
Cost US$ of station per passenger per hour Cost US$ of each capsule
% Inflation to apply to above two costs, which were calculated in 2015.
¢ per ton per km for shipping cargo. During the first year of operation only cargo will be allowed.
¢ per km for pricing ticket Steel Price US$/ton * 4 (for support and construction cost)
* Average Distance = Maximum length of each tube segment Price of electricity in $/kwh
Wh/km/passenger % Extra cargo capacity
Length of station approach m. Dedicated cargo stations requires less approach and are thus cheaper to build because the cargo can withstand higher G forces. An exiting capsule will decelerate before reaching the branch point so that it exits the branch point before the following vehicle is within the minimum distance. This model assumes a worst case scenario of 1 set of airlock
Income and Expenses
% Passenger capacity used Gross annual income from workday passengers million
% Cargo capacity used. Gross annual income from cargo million
Passenger traffic at peak hour. Energy cost million
Liquid Nitrogen cost million
% Operation & Maintenance rate Operation and maintenance million
% Insurance rate Self insurance/replacement fund million
% Interest cost of funding. Net income million
Non-workdays passenger income are not counted. Passengers fares are half price on weekends or public holidays.
Ticket pricing for passenger and cargo
The base price of a ticket to cover interest.  Currency / USD$
Distance or calculating ticket price and travel time.Energy surcharge factor
Price per pallet for cargo.  Travel Time
Price per trip. 
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
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 of various modes of transportation

Bicycle Prius XPT 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 $/L


Tube Freight Transportation. U.S. Department of Transport, Federal Highway Administration

Evacuated Tube Transport

Key vacuum technology issues to be solved in evacuated tube transportation

Evacuated tube transport technologies (ET3) a maximum value global transportation network for passengers and cargo

United States Patent No. 5,950,543 Evacuated Tube Transport

Feasibility and Economic Aspects of Vactrains   

Australia High Speed Rail Phase 1 Report

Truck Productivity

Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies: "Space Travel On Earth"

Toward green mobility: the evolution of transport 1998

Large scale energy storage/transmission and freight transportation system

Last updated: 21 March 2016