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Billionaire’s superfast dream

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Monday, August 19, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

When you have big money, you can think big. The founder of electric carmaker Tesla Motors, billionaire Elon Musk, has unveiled his plans for a solar-powered tube he calls the Hyperloop that will provide high-speed travel between cities.

This rendering of the Hyperloop shows the tubes with the solar panels on top.

This rendering of the Hyperloop shows the tubes with the solar panels on top.

An article in The Wall Street Journal explains that the first draft of Musk's plans show a vehicle that will travel through tubes and be solar-powered by fans that will whoosh it to its destination. The vehicle would glide on above-ground pylons and would be cheaper to build than high-speed trains, he says.

Musk says the Hyperloop, which he describes as part Concorde, part rail gun and part air hockey table, could travel at speeds up to 760 miles per hour. He estimates it would cost between $6 million and $10 million to build a route between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The trip would take 30 minutes.

The next step is a prototype, which Musk says would take three to four years to build. In addition to Tesla Motors, Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, the first private company to dock at the international space station. Both companies assisted in the design of the Hyperloop.

Some experts are skeptical of the proposed Hyperloop's practicality because new infrastructure would have to be built. The California High-Speed Rail Authority already has plans for a high-speed rail in California, with a network between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Those trains would travel at speeds upward of 200 miles per hour and eventually traverse much of the state, from San Diego to Sacramento.

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