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The Halbach it back (and what is it)?:

Meeting Details:

Next meeting: Nov 30th: 6:30pm, Wisconsin Energy Institute

IN PERSON, but also on Zoom:


Question of the Week:

1) Has Virgin Hyperloop perfected the Halbach array for levitation?




Faster Headlines

Due to the Thanksgiving Holiday, the news was light

Shinkansen trains launch cars just for teleworking

The Japan News

China's first privately-owned high-speed railway begins trial operation


Hyperloop, NYC Maglev Train Line Up for Infrastructure Money

Bloomberg Government

QANTAS frequent flyers to be rewarded for being sustainable

QANTAS News Release


Infrastructure Update:

For the latest on the infrastructure, check out a dedicated webpage:


The High Speed Rail Alliance...and Wisconsin:

Over the past year, the High Speed Rail Alliance in Chicago has been doing monthly online "Brown Bag" series, but there are two upcoming presentations that the group is especially interested in:

Friday, Dec 3rd (noon) -

The FRA's New Midwest Rail Plan and CrossRail Chicago

The Federal Railroad Administration’s Midwest Regional Rail Plan, released October 13, lays out a compelling vision for a network of high-speed trains that would transform travel across the Midwest. The plan envisions a network that consists of four “pillar corridors” radiating out from Chicago, with endpoints in Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Detroit.

Friday, Dec 10th (noon)

Wisconsin Needs a Bold Vision for Rail

Wisconsin already has one of the nation’s most successful passenger rail lines: Amtrak’s Hiawatha, with frequent service between Milwaukee and Chicago. And residents are already using the Empire Builder to move around the state. But imagine if we went even further, developing a comprehensive, statewide network of fast, frequent and reliable trains serving Wisconsin, with high-speed rail at its core.

Both sessions are on Zoom, and registration is free

All of the speakers are experts and a whose-who in high speed rail here in the states. So if you like the Derailed series, we highly recommend you check out these videos.


Virgin Hyperloop and the Halbach array

By Utkarsh Maheshwari

Let’s talk about hyperloop its been a while.

A quick recap: Hyperloop is a new form of ground transportation aiming for speeds of 600mph+ by eliminating the two major factors that slow down conventional ground transportation: air resistance and ground friction. Air resistance would be eliminated by traveling in vacuum tubes and friction by magnetically levitating.

Maglev trains use “active” levitation, which requires the entire track to have electrically powered coils to induce electromagnetic fields. Hyperloop proposes to use “passive” levitation whereby the track is not powered and instead is made of a non-ferrous metal which repel the magnets at a certain speed due the magnetic fields created. The electromagnets are only on the vehicle, placed perpendicularly to each other in an arrangement called a “Halbach array”. Although this technology does have certain drawbacks such as excess heat being generated, if perfected, it would decrease the cost of magnetic levitation significantly from today's technology.

Where the hyperloop concept breaks down is the vacuum. Building a (near) vacuum is neither proven nor feasible. The biggest vacuum system in the world is 104km (65mi) long at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest and highest-energy particle collider. Virgin Hyperloop would like to maintain the vacuum by constantly running vacuum pumps placed every few hundred feet. This would be extremely expensive and would eliminate the savings achieved in levitation. Not to mention the unexplored dangers of vacuum chambers.

But – we haven’t seen Hyperloop companies develop vacuum technology. Most, if not all, of their engineering prowess is spent in developing successful levitation and propulsion… and what if they are OK with that?

What if they realize the limitations and aren’t going to build a vacuum at all? Sure, it would bring down the ambitious 600mph+ speed to a more reasonable 300mph. But through passive levitation, they would be able to do this for a fraction of the cost of a maglev train, thus immediately disrupt the market.


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