The Transatlantic Tunnel: Future Tech & Transportation
by Brandy Cross
There have been a lot of recent developments in transportation technology. Google has managed to create working driverless cars that use computers and sensors to follow roads. Scientists in Germany are working on a Space Liner that could cut flights between the U.S. and Europe down to just thirty minutes. Vehicles around the world are constantly being updated with new and better technology for safety, convenient, and entertainment. But one of the most promising travel technologies ever invented is actually older than most people might thing. The transatlantic tunnel was originally theorized in 1888 by Michael Verne, (the son of Jules Verne). So how does it work? And how would it benefit travelers?
What is the Transatlantic Tunnel?
The transatlantic tunnel is a theoretical construction built at or beneath the seabed level to completely cross the ocean. Depending on the origin and destination, the tunnel would have to be somewhere between 3,100 and 3,500 miles or more long. The process would then use maglev (magnetic levitation) trains to travel at speeds between 310 to 5,000 miles per hour, depending on which system is eventually built. A variety of prototypes have been designed over history and Robert H. Goddard (creator of the liquid fueled rocket) holds 214 patents based on the idea. One model was designed to include 54,000 prebuilt tunnels with 100,000 tethering cables. This design was to be built 160 feet below the surface of the ocean which would reduce costs and risks associated with ocean floor pressure, as well as reduce damage caused by ships and bad weather. Technically crossing the Atlantic with the transatlantic tunnel could reduce travel time from anywhere between 45 and 18 minutes depending on destination.
Feasibility or Why Hasn’t Anyone Built It?
The question on everyone’s mind might be, if the technology and patents to build a transatlantic tunnel and maglev trains has been around so long, why hasn’t anyone built the tunnel? The idea of being able to go to Shanghai during a school field trip, to the Casino de Monte Carlo after work, and back again before bedtime, seems pretty fantastic. Making world travel fast would bring people across the world together. Unfortunately, it’s also expensive. Studies show that building an ocean crossing train would be comparable in price to laying a transatlantic cable or pipe and would cost somewhere between 88 and 175 billion dollars. Considering that 175 billion is more than the United States has, sheer cost of creation is one of the only things standing in the way of speedy intercontinental travel.
Building the Transatlantic Tunnel
If the entire world were to get together and donate, bring companies such as Apple (who actually own 176 billion dollars) and raise funds towards the project on a global scale, the transatlantic tunnel could be built. A variation of maglev Electrodynamic suspension has been proven to travel at speeds upwards of 500 miles per hour, and with some extra study in the area, the train could easily exceed that speed. Currently most passenger jets already fly at speeds of about 500 miles per hour, but the train would allow the trip to be taken in a straight line, without the lengthy process of taking off or landing, which could cut as much as two hours off of a trip. Faster speeds could cut into the then already shortened trip. Modules show that a speed of 3,100 miles per hour which could easily be feasible with the right track would take just 18 minutes to cross the Atlantic.
In addition to being a speedy way to cross the ocean, the transatlantic tunnel is also eco-friendly. Once constructed, maglev does not require an external power source, does not emit fossil fuels, and does not consume natural resources. Using nothing more than the power of magnets, the train could speed between New York and London, or San Francisco and Shanghai as easily as we currently fly from New York to Dallas.
Would you be interested in building a transatlantic tunnel? If so, would you be willing to donate? How much? 175 billion is a lot of money so it would take a very big undertaking in order to be built.