Canada's all-electric train-plane hybrid travels faster than a jet

The plane without wings, as the company TransPod calls it, is based on a new field of physics called "veillance flux" and features an innovative "contactless power transmission".
All-electric train-plane
All-electric train-plane

NEW YORK: Imagine travelling in a train that's three times faster than the famed Bullet Train. A Canadian startup recently unveiled the FluxJet, a hybrid between an aircraft and a train, capable of riding at more than 621 mph sans emissions. That's a little quicker than the average private jet or about three times faster than a high-speed train.

The plane without wings, as the company TransPod calls it, is based on a new field of physics called "veillance flux" and features an innovative "contactless power transmission". It is also equipped with aerodynamic and propulsion systems designed specifically to reduce friction. Essentially, a vacuum tube setup allows the magnetically levitated pods to travel at a faster speed than trains, cars and jets, said Robb Report, a leading voice in the global luxury market.

The FluxJet can carry up to 54 passengers plus two wheelchairs. It's also fitted with four luggage racks and can transport up to 10 tons of cargo. It will travel along a dedicated tube system known as the TransPod line to alleviate congestion on main roads and highways. It's not dissimilar to Virgin's Hyperloop network of 600 mph pods that is set to roll out in 2030.

The TransPod line will have stations in key locations and major cities, with pods expected to depart every two minutes. The passenger ticket is expected to cost approximately 44 per cent less than a plane ticket.

The FluxJet can reportedly reach 621 mph. What's more, the project is expected to create up to 140,000 jobs and add $19.2 billion to Canada's GDP throughout construction. It will also reduce CO2 emissions by about 636,000 tonnes per year. The train-plane plan appears to be gaining momentum, too.

TransPod recently received $550 million in financing and kicked off the next phase of an $18 billion US infrastructure project to build the TransPod Line between Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta - which will reportedly get you to either city in just 45 minutes.

The company also recently presented a scaled-down FluxJet at an event in Toronto to showcase its flight capabilities. The demo model executed a take-off and landing procedure within its guideway. Inside, there's room for 54 passengers.

"All the hard work over the past few years has led to this milestone moment where talk is becoming a reality," TransPod's co founder and CEO Sebastien Gendron said in a statement. "The technology is proven, and we have the confidence of investors, governments and partners to continue pushing forward to redefine transportation effectively."

Meanwhile, Germany launched what it's calling the world's first fleet of hydrogen cell powered passenger trains earlier this week, says Robb Report.

The French Power to Transport - T&D engineering firm Alstom has built the new fleet consisting of 14 Coradia iLint hydrogen trains and operated by regional rail company LNVG. Each of the new locomotives use hydrogen fuel cells to generate the electricity needed to power its engine. This makes the vehicles much cleaner than their diesel-powered predecessors. Lower Saxony has funded the project in a larger objective to go green and reduce carbon emissions.

As the Alstom trains run on hydrogen cells, they can save more than 422,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year. Robb Report said the fleet could cut CO2 emissions by up to 460 tons per year and H2 used to fuel the locomotives comes off as a by-product from chemical processes. Gas Company Linde hopes to produce it using only renewable energy within three years.

Alstom says its trains have a range of 621 miles and can travel at speeds of up to 87 mph, though they will normally operate between 50 to 75 mph. That means that each of the locomotives should be able to run for an entire day on a tank of hydrogen, according to CNN.

A hydrogen filling station has already been established along the route, which runs between the towns of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervorde, and Buxtehude. Five of the hydrogen trains debuted earlier this week and will gradually replace their 15 diesel counterparts. By the end of the year, every train on the line will be powered by hydrogen.

Lower Saxony isn't the only to have a hydrogen train fleet, as Frankfurt has reportedly ordered 27 such locomotives for use around its metropolitan area, while Italy and France have also commissioned hydrogen trains.

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