Elon Musk, who has been busily revolutionizing space travel and developing a practical electric car, made some more news when he tweeted, “Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins.” If the scheme comes to fruition, the new Hyperloop would likely put Amtrack and a number of commuter airlines out of business. However, questions remain as to which government Musk is talking about and how firm the permission is. A lot of bureaucratic and technological hurdles remain before people can travel from Washington to New York in less than half an hour.

What would a northeast corridor Hyperloop look like?

Since Musk mentions the Boring Company, one can surmise that the Hyperloop in question will not be set on pylons going across the countryside, but rather will be entirely underground for the 225 or so miles between New York and Washington D.C. with access to stations on either end by elevators. The Boring Company is Musk’s new high tech tunneling company that he is using to dig underneath Los Angeles.

Questions arise

Building a Hyperloop underground would have the advantage in that rights of way would not have to be acquired on private land along the route. On the other hand, the expense of digging a 225-mile long tunnel must be enormous. The task may not even be possible, though Musk apparently thinks it is and was able to convince someone in some government office.

The above ground Hyperloop was designed to be powered by renewable energy. Clearly, such an arrangement would be more difficult for an underground line. One cannot see somewhat like Musk, an enthusiastic environmentalist, wanting to power the Northeast Corridor Hyperloop off of the grid. He might agree to build solar and wind generators to offset the cost of powering the line.

Who has Musk been talking to?

President Donald Trump desires to start a big infrastructure building project and is known to be interested in the Hyperloop technology. However, relations between Trump and Musk have been strained as of late because of the withdraw of the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.

The media will love the new transportation system

One constituency that will love the idea of a Northeast Corridor Hyperloop will be the media. Most major media organizations have headquarters in New York, but principal offices in Washington. The ability to move journalists and other personnel from one city to another in less than half an hour, then a short taxi or Uber rise to a studio would be a beguiling prospect that will give the project a lot of good press.