South Korea's Hyper-Tube Train Hits Major Milestone, Reaches Over 621 MPH

The train operated in a tube that's almost a vacuum.
Fabienne Lang

The race to create the world's fastest train system has properly kickstarted with a bang! The Korean Railroad Research Institute (KORAIL) announced on Wednesday that its hyper-tube train reached speeds over 621 mph (1,000 km/h) during a test. This marks a major milestone in the move towards faster trains. 

The hyper-tube is South Korea's version of the more-known hyperloop. The Asian country started its hyper-tube project back in 2017, and its recent news has been welcomed with open arms. 


Once Korea's hyper-tube train is up and running, one of its plans is to cut the journey from Seoul to Busan from three hours and thirty minutes down to just thirty minutes

Wednesday's test says the hyper-tube reached 633 mph (1,019 km/h) at a pressure level of 0.001 — something that's akin to a vacuum's pressure. 

The hyper-tube train shot through a self-developed mini tube that serves as an aerodynamic testing device, per Donga. This hyper-tube testing device was made at a 17th of its scale and is the first of its kind worldwide, per Business Korea's report.

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Plane vs. Hyper-tube

Up until yesterday, the maximum speed KORAIL managed to achieve with its hyper-tube train was 443 mph (714 km/h), so the new record smashed through the old one. 

We're talking speeds similar or faster than that of a plane's. A regular international flight from Europe to Asia, for example, flies at speeds of around 497 to 621 mph (800 to 1,000 km/h). So it's an insanely speedy train. 

KORAIL stated that "We have overcome the problem of vehicle driving obstacles caused by rapid acceleration driving friction in the accelerator section of the aerodynamic test system and exceeded the speed of 1000 km/h."

The institute is continuing to refine its technology and move towards the actual track and vehicle development in 2022.

KORAIL isn't the only institute working on such a train. On Monday, Virgin Hyperloop shared the news of its own milestone regarding its fast-speed pod.