Pipe Dream? Get From Pittsburgh to Chicago in 30 Minutes

Developers say such a trip, at speeds faster than a passenger jet, could be possible in five years.

photo via flickr creative commons


According to Google maps, the drive from Pittsburgh to Chicago is just over seven hours (without accounting for potty breaks). Amtrak’s Capitol Limited covers the distance at a more leisurely 11-and-a-half hours. Barring weather delays, a commercial airline flight is 90 minutes.

Developers predict the Hyperloop One will whisk you from the ’Burgh to the Windy City in less than 30 minutes.

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk first proposed the Hyperloop — a vacuum train that fires cars through an enclosed tube via air pressure — in 2012; in June 2015, he announced a SpaceX-sponsored design competition.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, based in Columbus, is among 35 semifinalists around the world in the Hyperloop One Challenge.

“I think the way we are looking at this is we are really interested in the [Pittsburgh-Columbus-Chicago] corridor and this is a really interesting concept,” William Murdock, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We thought it was worth pursuing.”

The technology is expected to be on display near Las Vegas this spring.

With the selection as a semifinalist, Murdoch says the agency will begin the working on details such as cost, the hyperloop route, location of stations and how public-private partnerships might help pay for it.

“What you win is [Hyperloop One’s] expertise,” Thea Walsh, transportation systems and funding director at Mid-Ohio told the PG. “There’s nothing monetary at this point, but we will look at forming public-private partnerships in all three cities and see what happens.”

There is another Pittsburgh connection to the project. A Carnegie Mellon University team will compete later this month Hyperloop Pod Competition in Hawthorne, Calif. Each team is designing a half-scale pod to operate inside a 1.5-mile vacuum tube at initial speeds of 220 mph.

The video below offers a look into the future of travel via Hyperloop. It’s not the Jetsons, but it’s close.


Categories: The 412