South Korea’s Hyper-Tube Train Reached Speeds Over 621mph (1,000km/h) During A Test

by : Hannah Smith on : 13 Nov 2020 11:28
South Korea's Hyper-Tube Train Reached Speeds Over 621mph (1,000km/h) During A TestKorean Railroad Research Institute

A hyper-tube train currently in development in South Korea reached a record speed of more than 621mph during testing on Wednesday, hitting speeds normally only seen by airplanes.

The Korean Railroad Research Institute (KRRI) announced the major milestone on Wednesday, claiming the train may have gone as fast as 633mph. The hyper-tube system has been in development since 2017, and had previously managed a top speed of 443mph. For comparison, Japanese Shinkansen trains top out at a maximum operating speed of 200mph, with commercial aircraft cruising at speeds between 497mph and 621mph.


The hyper-tube system is the South Korean equivalent of the ‘hyperloop’, a system in which trains run in a vacuum-like low pressure tunnel to achieve higher speeds than possible across open land. Perhaps the best known of these systems is Virgin Hyperloop, which earlier this week announced its own milestone of carrying passengers in one of its pods. But with the US-owned company currently testing at speeds of around 100mph, KRRI’s hyper-tube has blown the competition out of the water.

The roll out of hyper-speed trains like this one promise to cut long-distance journeys to a fraction of their current times. According to KRRI, once in service its hyper-tube system would shrink the travel time between Seoul and Busan from three-and-a-half hours to just 30 minutes.

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There’s a slight catch: the train in question is actually a 1:17 scale prototype, meaning it’s closer in size to a toy engine than the real thing. Korean media reports that the mini-train accelerated through a tube tunnel developed by KRRI to serve as an aerodynamic test chamber.

KRRI said in a translated statement, as per Interesting Engineering:

We have overcome the problem of vehicle driving obstacles caused by rapid acceleration driving friction in the accelerator section of the aerodynamic test system and exceeded the speed of 1000 km/h

South Korea hopes to launch its first hyper-tube trains by 2024, promising that the system would be the first of its kind in the world. Meanwhile, Japanese developers are currently working on driverless bullet trains, with plans to test the system as early as next year.


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Interesting Engineering and 1 other
  1. Interesting Engineering

    South Korea's Hyper-Tube Train Hits Major Milestone, Reaches Over 621 MPH

  2. The Independent