The Future of Highspeed Rail

Briefing paper – the options for high speed rail in the UK

By Torrin Wilkins, August 24th 2019. Centre Think Tank ISSN 2634-4696

A blue maglev train travelling past a set of yellow buildings. Above this is a blue background and a yellow sun.

Text: "The Future of Highspeed Rail Briefing paper - the options for high speed rail in the UK By Torrin Wilkins, August 24th 2019. Centre Think Tank ISSN 2634-4696".

This paper will look at the different high speed rail options for the UK. These include the HS2/3, a maglev line and a Hyperloop system. Whilst this paper will not recommend a specific course of action it will look at the scientific background, histories, existing examples, advantages, disadvantages and proposed routes for these proposals. This paper will also include several possible solutions for issues a hyperloop or maglev system may need to overcome. This paper concludes:

  • There are three options for highspeed rail in the UK: Maglev, HS2/3 and Hyperloop.
  • HS2 and 3 use proven technologies but risk being dated once the lines are eventually built.
  • Maglev is less proven but has also been used in several lines. This type of transport probably strikes the best balance between older types of railways such as HS2/3 and newer technologies such as Hyperloop.
  • Hyperloop is faster than Maglev but has been tested less which is a barrier to using it for a large line.

What will the future look like:

This paper looks at the future of highspeed rail but what exactly will the future look like? One option we look at is Hyperloop, a maglev train inside a vacuum tube. If this new mode of transport works then it would be extremely fast and could cut journey times. However, whilst there are working maglev trains around the world there is not yet a full scale Hyperloop. It may well be the future of travel but full tests are needed to find out.