Richard Branson, figurehead of all things branded Virgin, has opined that our rain-sodden island needs a hyperloop railway system.
The billionaire Brit, who is non-exec chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One, told BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme that a hyperloop "would end up transporting people far quicker, in far greater numbers, with far greater convenience than any other train network in the UK".
He also reckoned it could cost "about a third of building high speed rail", which appears to be a reference to the UK's £56bn High Speed Two project to add rail capacity between London and the Midlands, duplicating the century-old West Coast Main Line which is running at close to saturation level, particularly on its southern stretches.
Beardy's latest nugget, delivered (allegedly) months before he gets flung into orbit, comes hot on the heels of the company putting out feelers in Spain for potential public subsidy, according to a local report.
The Think Spain website reported that Virgin Hyperloop One "has contacted Spain's government to ask for public funding and to be allowed to set up a test and maintenance centre on the high-speed AVE rail link which connects the small inland town of Antequera (Málaga province) to Carmona (Sevilla province)".
As previously reported on El Reg, hyperloop is a generic term for a high-speed tube-based maglev railway. Trains inside sealed tubes are propelled along at proposed speeds of up to 650mph (~1,000kph), providing airline-style speeds with all the benefits of fixed rail routes. Naturally, there are more than a few technological objections to these plans, not least on the grounds of G-forces experienced by passengers as the trains accelerate and decelerate, as well as practical considerations (what happens if the tube gets breached?) and the lack of any real interest in such a barmy notion.
As the Institute of Mechnical Engineers' Philippa Oldham put it last year: "As the distance of the trials increase there will be many engineering problems to solve including that of managing track alignment. In the UK we would not be able to use any existing transport corridors at these speeds due to their lateral curvature." ®