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By Robert Silver
The U.S. presently has thousands of miles of Interstate Highway right-of-ways. Why not build a hi-speed elevated rail system that crosses the U.S. There is usually plenty of room in the medians. If the system is elevated there would be no need for crossing etc. The system could be built with ready-made concrete and steel components that would be easy to construct. These trains could have speeds in excess of 120 MPH. It could also have cars that would transport the family auto. In addition, it could be a public works project that would employ thousands of people similiar to the TVA and the building of the Hoover Dam.

Reward: I would like to travel across the country on such a train.
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By Michael D. Grissom
If you used elevated mass produced interconnecting giant glass tubes sections in which a MAG LEV train could run internally and used air pressure from massive turbines to shoot the train through the tube (like a pea shooter) and used air turbine repeater stations to cover losses, you could effectively run the trains at speeds equal to or faster than airplanes because the train would effectively be moving at the same speed as the air within the tube. The only thing to limit the speed of the train would be the frictional losses of the air passing through the tubes.

...just a thought.
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By CycoMage
Both of the 2 ideas are good, and compliment each other quite well. Now if we could just get an administration that will fund it in the national budget. It won't aid oil interests, car co.'s, or the military in any great way (internal logistics). It makes too much sense for the gov't. to get involved with. Even with major corporate assistance and public donations, I think the feds will refuse funding. They don't like relatively simple, logical solutions to their favorite complex problems. Although they will lower taxes for the rich again. (sorry about the soapbox)
By old_kyle_w
I initially agreed with the preceding comment but the introduction of the idea of mega highways put out recently by Gov. Perry of Texas leads me to beleive that a joint venture funded by private industry with government clout behind it may succeed. Part of the proposed idea was to include rail and utility right of way along with highway space. What might be interesting to add to the mix would be a fed ex/ups style company that guarantees on time delivery of freight in trailers suitable for hauling by 18 wheeler rigs. They could be mass shipped between major rail yards and then only require short hauls by local tractors to their destination. The big rig drivers wouldn't lose any work, they would just have more frequent short runs and be able to go home at the end of the day.
By sneezyalex
They should make a interstate train route, but instead use bullet trains. Mag levs are good but need lots of servicing and are vey expensive. Need to think about security too. What if a suicide bomber just ran on to the tracks and blew up a train?
By The_Wise
The ultimate: a mag lev train, operating in a vacuum tube (no air resistance)! The magnetic devices and rail could be placed on the outside of the tube, and the tube is formed fitted over the'll make for easy maintanence and repair fn the rail.

an idea that is not feasible...but still cool
By sneezyalex
Who would pay for something like that? :-?
I like the Idea but it needs to be buried undergound like subways.
It would mean higher taxes though. :-C
By llemmart
why does it got to be in a tunnel.l mke it like the superman ride it uses mag and no tunnel
By sparky577
With the advent of the automobile we have created a world that requires some of us to drive over fifty miles a day just to commute to work. Somewhere someone came up with the idea that we can actually design a need for these horseless carriages and turn them into everyday commodities. Automobiles, aside from being the second most expensive purchase most people make in their lives, have become a method of self expression and pride to many Americans. Driving is sometimes seen as an extension of the way we wish others to perceive how we live our lives ( i.e. “life in the fast lane”).

It is incredible that we rely so heavily on these machines for our everyday lives. When someone's car breaks down it can be a significant source of crisis and stress, both mentally and financially. However, it seems a necessity that we spend whatever ridiculous fee we are asked just so that we can get back on the road and be along our merry little way.

Our cities and towns used to be built with accessibility in mind. Now they are built with parking in mind. The proximity of a town to an Interstate can often mean economic boom or bust for its residents and business owners. This is an indicator that automobiles have transformed the way we live and the way we do business.

In other parts of the world this is not the case. People from all over the globe, from Europe to Japan enjoy a variety of different methods of moving themselves and their goods to and fro. One of the biggest differences is the availability of trains. In the U.S., trains are almost seen as a novelty item or a way to ship heavy loads of slow cargo. We do not have the high speed train lines like the Train au Grande Vitesse ( TGV) in France or Shinkansen Magnetic Levitation (or MAGLEV) train in Japan. These trains can turn three hour drives in cars into thirty minute rides on smooth, efficient, sometimes luxurious trains. These are safer, easier to use, and more fuel economical than non-electric cars will ever be.

The way we are building our urban and suburban environments is incompatible with population growth. Everyone in the world is not going to be able to own their own car and their own house in the suburbs and commute fifty miles to and from work every day. Modification of our existing infrastructure would not only allow us to cope with the demands of the future but effectively allow us to manage them. Attitude change is required more than anything.

Methods used in planning the building of roads, trains, airports, buildings, towns, and cities are overdue for an overhaul. Instead of coping with rising demand and taking on projects after they are overdue and needed, we need to plan ahead and build for the future demands. Perhaps we should build a train where we predict a superhighway will be needed. Lets invest in a better road system before it is needed. What if we built schools and parks and libraries that our kids will need in the future, instead of just the present?

The difficulties with this kind of thinking lie in logistics (or money) and technology. If we build a library with books in it today for the kids of tomorrow how do we know they will even use it? What if all of the books in that library are “Googleable” by the time the kids need to read them? Where does the money come from to pay for that library and its books? Herein lies the conundrum. Here is where our thinking needs to change and we need to expand or completely revamp our models for planning and estimation.

Although the initial investments are quite large, building a large scale high speed transit system based upon the before mentioned MAGLEV design would help avoid the gridlocked airports and packed highways we see nationally today. Building these trains on smaller scales for inter-city or intra-city use could solve the same problems on local levels. These electrically powered trains could effect a change in our economic, environmental and foreign policy arenas.

We live in a car dependent country. Discussing the effects that this phenomena has on the daily routines and social interactions between people can be accomplished by comparing patrons of internet cafes to internet users in their own homes.

While all of the people are all online and connected, those who choose to use the internet in a public setting experience other people's ideas, comments, and conversations more than those sitting online in their pajamas eating Cheetos in their living rooms. When each of us travel in our own, individual cars, the only interaction we have with other people is honking horns, flashing lights, and on occasion a kind wave of a hand or finger. Using public transportation methods frees us from having to manage the actual transit portion of getting ourselves from point A to point B. This allows us to talk to people, have phone conversations, use computers, read books and periodicals, share information with one another and engage our minds in that portion of human interaction which fuels the creativity we all possess. It is sometimes said “its not what you know, its who you know.” This could be an opportunity to get to know someone new, to learn something, to be exposed to an idea or concept that you may have never even considered by yourself.

(Excerpt from 'Planes Trains and Urban Sprawl'. An essay by Arthur Johnson)
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