Discussion in 'High Speed and Other Non-Amtrak Intercity Rail' started by Philly Amtrak Fan, Jul 20, 2017.
And I don't think Elon Musk is on it. People said similar things about Steve Jobs before the iPod and iPhone. I ignored them and bought Apple at a split adjusted equivlant of .70 cents a share.
I don't think Musk is crazy at all. I'm just not sure what kind of timeline he can do this in, but if there's someone who has the drive and the ability to grease enough palms to make it happen, it's Musk.
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I heard it was actually going to go PHL-CHI.
The Willy Wonka .gif in the linked tweets is gold.
The difference is that Mr. Jobs was not relying upon verbal government approval as Mr. Musk is. :blink: :giggle:
Government doesn't do anything that isn't in writing and which governments (the Feds, the states the tunnels will run under, the station cities where large holes in the ground will be needed to bring passengers to/from the tunnels) gave this verbal approval?
Some Trumpeter told him over a beer, if you know what I mean
Add to that the technology isn't even proven yet, nor has it received any approval from any government anywhere. Doing stuff in the most congested part of the country is far different from doing it elsewhere in the US, and that isn't easy at all. The timelines mentioned were laughable as well. Elon Musk may be able to create payment systems and automobiles, but he has no idea what it is like to build infrastructure and no clue to elements such as rights-of-way.
Add spaceships to your list of things he can do. SpaceX and Tesla were both considered nuts- by myself included. When somebody consistently tackles the impossible and pulls it off, I don't assume he can't do it again.
Yes, but both also very much built on existing technology in incremental (if substantial) ways (SpaceX also took advantage of inefficiencies on the part of NASA's operations to find a profit center while Tesla benefitted from a frak-load of tax credits). Hyperloop is much more of a break from existing technology than either of those efforts.
Actually, I never considered either of those two nuts at all, since at least I understood how the technology, engineering and physics of it could be made to work out given proper allocation of resources. Neither of those two were ever considered to be impossible by anyone that looked into the physics and engineering of it. Yeah, for others such things can look like magic from time to time. Same was true of Steve Jobs and his adventures and misadventures. I don't think Hyperloop falls in the same category at all. but of course time will tell.
My speculation is that finally they will deploy a run of the mill Maglev system somewhere with a few extra bells and whistles and declare victory. They might even stick it in a tunnel bored by the Boring company and perhaps even reduce the iar pressure a bit in the tunnel, but not really enough to matter a heck of a lot in terms of dealing with consequences of a breach. But as I said, we will see. Declarations like the recent one regarding "Permission" is just plain stupid and misguided and misguiding, suggesting things are not otherwise going well at the ranch.
SpaceX's insanity was smoke and mirrors to some extent, because nobody had successfully done this sort of thing before, besides perhaps Richard Branson who is also viewed in the same realm.
But Tesla is an entirely different kettle of fish. The electric part of the equation is not the difficulty, particularly. Its not a great engineering achievement to figure out how to wire hi-po cellphone batteries in large quantity to move a lightweight aluminum body long distances with an electric motor. It is much more impressive that Tesla managed to produce a price-market-performance competitive entry to the luxury sedan segment- forgetting the electric part for a moment, but mighty Toyota has failed to consistently do that, Nissan failed completely, Honda has never tried, it took Audi 20 years of hard work to get there, and the domestic companies engaged in a 30 year hiatus from that. Tesla nailed it on its first shot. That is astonishingly impressive. That they further managed to do this while having the vehicle powered by the first seriously practical electric powertrain, and turning a per unit profit on the machines, that is incredible. On top of that the machines are cutting edge in various ways that have nothing to do with their powertrain. Without knowing further history, it is fair to call this a near impossible achievement.
Now for the history. 1995- that is the last time an automobile manufacturer successfully entered our market independently (albeit with lots of engineering help from Mazda) in the form of Kia. They didn't achieve success until Hyundai bought them and taught them how to build cars, though- which in 1986 is the previous successful entry of a manufacturer (Acura/Lexus/Infiniti/Scion/Saturn are brands, not manufacturers). And frankly, the Korean's launch was unsuccessful initially. But let us hold success as selling vehicles in volume for at least 10 years.
The last successful startup automaker in the US was possibly Kaiser-Frazier, and that is arguable, since they stopped producing their own products within that 10 year time frame, although they continued making products from Willys-Overland, that they bought. This failure was the work of no lesser a man than Henry J. Kaiser, a Steve Jobs like man in his day.
If we discount that- and perhaps we should- we'd have to go back nearly 100 years to find a successful American automobile manufacturing start up. And of course, the three surviving American (or Italian-American) automakers have their roots in automobile manufacturing even further back- Maxwell (Chrysler) in 1904, Buick (General Motors) in 1899 (becoming General Motors in 1908), and more complexly Ford. Ford's first car company (The Henry Ford Company) was founded in 1901, but is basically Cadillac. Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903. All over 100 years ago.
Tesla is a full fledged start up, the first serious attempt in nearly 70 years, and the first truly successful in 110. While receiving some help from Lotus for their first model, and some guidance from Daimler for their second, they designed their own car on their own platform with their own running gear that is competitive in its class, and in fact has become the best selling car in that class. On top of that the Model S was the first practical long range electric car.
So yes, when this little Elon Musk PayPal nebbish (against all of that history outlined before you) said he was going to successfully build a volume, practical, long-range, electric luxury sedan that could compete in performance, price, and quality with a Mercedes-Benz S-class (a company who has been building its reputation and refining its exceptional product for 131 years), and then build a equally practical long range electric car that would sell for the average transaction price of a new car ($35k) or even close to it, yeah I considered that impossible. With a lot of good reason.
It isn't the electric powertrain that does all that- its the business acumen of a man who thinks he is unstoppable and is therefore willing to launch massive resources at things other men think are impossible. Since he is willing to do that, and he has a lot of investors who believe that he can, he really does have a shot at doing it. Because the first prerequisite for accomplishing nearly impossible feats is to convince other people to invest in them by convincing them they are very possible indeed.
I agree with the thrust of waht you're saying. The auto industry has become too self-obsessed, too static, and too sure of its hegemony that they didn't take Musk seriously. They could have introduced competitive models of their own that could quite easily have bankrupted Musk within months. It's the classic case of disruptive innovation making waves in a market that doesn't really want change.
On the other hand, there are different types of people who get ahead in this game.
There are the Steve Jobs types who have a very detailed understanding of the market, of the customer's psychology, of the shortcxoming of the competitors, of how much seemingly insignificant details matter, and can pull off kill after kill - even if to be honest, Jobs also presided over a large number of phenomenal failures. He didn't exactly get fired from Apple for being too succesful.
Then there are also people who don't have that understanding. I'm putting Richard Bransom there. Jobs did many things but all within a rather narrow spectrum. It was a spectrum that he understood very well. But if you hop from airlines to sugary drinks to trains to music, you don't really understand the details of all those markets and industries. You're more a big picture type guy. Bransom got rich, there is no doubt about it. But a lot of what is said about him is more hype than reality. Virgin Cola never displaced Coke from its market leadership. The Coca Cola company never felt it needed to imiatte Virgin Cola to remain relevant, in the way that the Nokia's and Samsungs' of the world felt they needed to clone iPhones to remain relevant. He wasn't the threat to them that he was pretending to be. Virgin Trains were not that particularly good and they definitely didn't bring back the golden age of train travel in the way they were hyped to do. In many respects Branson's penny pinching actually made train travel more miserable. I guess his airlines are passably good, but they have also stagnated. I',m not seeing the massive growth of the early years. So at the end of the day, the Branson personality has huge value, and a lot of legend gets woven around him. He made enough money too, and good for him. But so did many others, just less visibly. I think there was and is a lot of over-hyping going on. End of the day Bransom had a good gut feeling and maybe also got lucky a couple of times. But somehow his aura is such that people think he was succesful even when he underperformed.
And where is Musk in that? Is he a Jobs or a Branson? Was Tesla his one lucky shot that people will remember him for? Or is he going to turn everything he touches into gold?
Nuh uh. Hyperloop is just a crossbreed of the drive through bank teller and MagLev.
PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Solar are all successful with good products. I'm gonna say it isn't a one hit wonder.
And I wouldn't call the Model S a lucky shot. It sits in a lofty circle of three cars: the Benz Patent Motorwagen, and the Citroen DS. The cars that redefined the future of road travel the moment they were launched, bringing the future 50 or so years closer. In 2009 it was inconceivable that the internal combustion engine was going away in road cars. Now it is nearly a cetainty that their volume manufacture will end within 30 years or so.
Yes, the DS was a phenomenally good car. It transformed the industry, It transformed thinking. But it didn't catapult Citroen into leadership for very long. Today much more conservative companies such as Mercdes are worth more than Citroen and make better cars. From an engineering point of view the DS was great, financially less so.
I wouldn't particularly call Mercedes conservative, although more so than Citroen in its hayday. And the DS was successful- Citroen's issues came later.
Maryland's DOT has given their support.
I give my support. I am not paying for it either.
When and if the project is abandoned because he doesn't get funding or approval for the important portion (i.e. under D.C. and Baltimore stations which will be needed), I hope someone finds some use for a large diameter tunnel that goes nowhere. Wish he started the tunnel from the city so that if his plan fails, someone could run a standard train through the tunnel to some useful point.
I hope for the best but I still don't see any real progress as a practical people mover. A better test case would be from some city to its airport 10 or so miles away where no mass transit exists. Then even if more than 10 miles turned out to be impractical or too expensive or ..., it would make a working mass transit for that city.
I highly recommend this article by Alon Levy:
Some choice quotes:
"The barf ride that is as expensive as California HSR and takes as long door-to-door is also very low-capacity. The capsules are inexplicably very short, with 28 passengers per capsule. The proposed headway is 30 seconds, for 3,360 passengers per direction per hour. A freeway lane can do better: about 2,000 vehicles, with an average intercity car occupancy of 2. HSR can do 12,000 passengers per direction per hour: 12 trains per hour is possible, and each train can easily fit 1,000 people (the Tokaido Shinkansen tops at 14 tph and 1,323 passengers per train).
But even 30 seconds appears well beyond the limit of emergency braking. It’s common in gadgetbahn to propose extremely tight headways, presuming computerized control allowing vehicles to behave as if they’re connected by a rod. Personal rapid transit proponents argue the same. In reality, such systems have been a subject of research for train control for quite a while now, with no positive results so far. Safety today still means safe stopping distances."
"There is no redeeming feature of Hyperloop. Small things can possibly be fixed; the cost problems, the locations of the stations, and the passenger comfort issues given cost constraints can’t. Industry insiders with ties to other speculative proposals meant to replace conventional rail, such as maglev, are in fact skeptical of Hyperloop’s promises of perfect safety."
"There already exists a mode of transportation that involves security theater, travel at 1,000 km/h, poor comfort, and motion sickness."
Levy actually has some more recent posts that moderate some of the criticism, but don't totally eliminate it. His most recent conclusions seem to be that unconventional modes like Hperloop are really nost practical for 1,000 km corridors, but that the costs are still pretty high for a newly developed technology.
". I for one will keep putting vactrains in my 22nd-century science fiction, but not in my near-future science fiction.."
That certainly seems like a scientifically researched article free of bias and bile. It also ignores that Amtraks capacity is what, maximum 1500 or so an hour on the corridor each way? So a 3300 capacity would allow for more than doubled ridership, and one minute headways would handle current ridership.
The vehicles need to be short to handle relatively tight curve radii, naturally. As for braking, the braking limit is not the machine, its the human body- reverse the polarity of the magnet and your car will stop cold. The occupants will be straberry jam, but the pod will be stopped.
Thirty seconds for stopping would be more than enough to stop the pod without injury to the passengers. I once stopped a friends Rhentech E7.2 (a W210 with a 7.2 liter V12) from 165 to zero in... I think it was a touch over 10 seconds. While it is an excellent demonstration of both the power of enormous twin caliper Brembo brakes and why one should never go that fast on the open road, it didnt even hurt. And that was a three point inertia reel, not a four point harness.
These objections, while sounding impressive, are just bloviation.
Even if we assume no technical complications arise as hyperloop is developed, and we assume it hits the same operating metrics as high speed rail, I still don't see it ever being built. If it were that easy, we'd have had conventional high speed rail for decades now.
We've never had a billionaire offer his own money to finance it before. It's similar to the situation with the NFL in Los Angeles. For over 20 years the NFL didn't have a team in Los Angeles because while everyone in the NFL thought it was a great idea to have a team in LA no one in LA was willing to pay a penny in taxes to pay for it. Then the owner of one of the teams was so rich he decided to buy some land and buy a stadium with his own money without any taxpayer support and now the Los Angeles Rams! You get Stan Kroenke and Elon Musk and things get done and the NFL and Maryland say go right ahead!
To paraphrase Stanley Kubricks Dr. Strangelove: it is not technically difficult- it requires only the will to do so.
Hyper loops are more easily constructed in the BosWas because the biggest issue with HSR is acquiring adequate amounts of continuous relatively straight rights of way above ground in such a dense area. Hyperloops operate primarily with underground tunnels. Go sufficiently far beneath the ground and easements become easy.
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