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> It'll likely be the same for high-speed rail, hyperloops, and under-city tunnels.

Please don't make the mistake of equating the hyperloop scheme with reputable and tried-and-true railway services. Hyperloop is at best a marketing gimmick based on naive and ill-informed notions of what it takes to run a vehicle in a track, while real railway services are mundane technologies which have been proven to work for at least half a century.

Railroads were very far from reputable services when they were first being built. The history of these is fascinating; you think tech scams are bad today, you should've seen the machinations of Jay Gould [1] or Thomas Durant [2]. Many early railroads failed to get completed at all, or if they did, the trains would blow up on the tracks and kill a bunch of passengers.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Gould

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Transcontinental_Railroa...

Apples and oranges. Your examples refer to specific business ventures initiated in a time where steam-powered rail transport was already a century old and with a proven track record, while hyperloop is a pie-in-the-sky scheme that is both technically and economically unfeasible. It's like comparing flying cars with the DeLorean.

> at best a marketing gimmick

Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is not wisdom. A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past; he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future. The future can be better than the past. According to the data it has been [1][2][3]. So optimism isn't a fluffy ideal to scoff at.

Newton's laws make it clear that approaching vacuum allows for greater speeds. An object in motion will remain in motion unless an outside force acts upon it [4]. Therefore, the greater part of truth is out of reach of cynicism.

What is more likely, that a man who heads a company that works in the space sector would think that moving through a near-vacuum was honestly more efficient [5]? Or that he would propose it merely as a marketing gimmick? And why can't it be both?

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCm9Ng0bbEQ

[2]: https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_and_ola_rosling_how_not_to_be...

[3]: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/04/bill-gates-the-world-would-b...

[4]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_laws_of_motion

[5]: https://themysteriousworld.com/top-10-fastest-man-made-objec...

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