Lonely Planet Writer

Melbourne to Sydney in just 55 minutes? It could happen...but don't eat beforehand

High-speed rail train sounds like a traveller’s dream, but a proposed Hyperloop Australia project has met with warnings that travelling at such high speeds could make everybody on board vomit.

The proposed Hyperloop Australia could look like this.
An artist’s rendition of the Vichyper Hyperloop. Image by VicHyper

Hyperloop, the super-fast train that has attracted interest from some of the world’s biggest cities, has announced the journey between Sydney and Melbourne could be the perfect testing ground for their lightning-fast travel time. They estimate it will take a mere 55 minutes, instead of a nine-hour drive. The Hyperloop promises speeds of more than 1000 kilometres-per-hour and could completely revolutionise the world of travel. Initial tests are taking place in the Nevada desert and a full-scale Hyperloop is estimated to be operational by early 2017. Now, Hyperloop’s vice-president for worldwide business development, Alan James, is eyeing up Down Under for future tests.

“We’re very keen to explore the potential for doing proof of operations in Australia and the reason for that is there’s a clear long-term need for ultra-fast transport on the Australian east coast,” Mr James told The Australian. “This is not a ‘ten years away story’, this is not a ‘five years away story’, and literally months from now the world will be able to touch, smell and see an operational Hyperloop.”

The Hyperloop One testing centre in Nevada.
The Hyperloop One testing centre in Nevada. Image by Hyperloop One.

However, commuters shouldn’t throw away their rail pass just yet. A mathematician warned that when the Hyperloop becomes fully operational, a design flaw will become apparent. In a blogpost, researcher Alon Levy had one warning about the proposed system: “it’s not transportation; it’s a barf ride.” Mr Levy claims that the proposed lateral and vertical acceleration will mean that passengers will be subjected to motion sickness for the duration of the ride. It is, he explains “worse than the acceleration felt by passengers on an airplane taking off”. It remains to be seen whether the Hyperloop Australia will truly become a reality or whether it will always be a plan that never seems to materialise. Certainly many travellers will be keenly watching for news coming out of the Nevada desert next year, but until then it will be normal-speed trains, planes and automobiles.