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London to Edinburgh in 5 minutes

The journey between London and Edinburgh would be much quicker had the London and Edinburgh Vacuum Tunnel Company been allowed and able to build a breathtaking new piece of technology, back when land was cheap and all things seemed possible. The 29 January, 1825 issue of The Mechanics Register presents the scheme in detail:

“The London and Edinburgh Vacuum Tunnel Company is proposed to be established, with a capital of Twenty Millions Sterling, divided into 200,000 shares, of L.100 each, for the purpose of forming a Tunnel or Tube of metal between Edinburgh and London, to convey Goods and Passengers between these cities and the other towns through which it passes.”

The plan is simple. There are two long tunnels or tubes, side by side, one reserved for trips northbound to Edinburgh, the other for Londonwards traffic. Boilers, located every two miles along the approximately 390-mile length of the tunnel or tube, supply steam that, though a clever bit of engineering, creates a vacuum….

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

BONUS: Io9 looks at a vaguely similar modern plan for Foodtubes.

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