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The amazing idea of creating a maglev [magnetic levitation] transport system – the so-called fifth mode – is moving ahead with California entrepreneur Elon Musk, the man behind electric car manufacturer Tesla. Mr Musk has issued an open-source design challenge to brightest minds in Silicon Valley: design a 28-passenger solar-powered pod capable of levitating through a system of tubes almost at the speed of sound, with a one-way ticket price of $20 and a total building cost estimated at $6bn. Some of the early work is now being assessed. This in-depth feature article from the Wall St Journal is mostly concerned with passengers, but we have previously reported on its suitability for freight.

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