220MPH Solar-Powered Bullet Train on Arizona Horizon

by , 05/12/09

sustainable design, solar bullet train, green design, alternative transportation, renewable energy, solar powered train, high speed rail

Travelers going from Tucson to Phoenix may soon be blazing across the desert in speeding solar bullet trains propelled by the sun’s rays. Hot on the heels of President Obama’s plan for High Speed Rail in the US comes the news that Arizona-based Solar Bullet LLC is proposing a new 220mph bullet train that will be entirely powered by the sun and will make the trip in 30 minutes flat.

sustainable design, solar bullet train, green design, alternative transportation, renewable energy, solar powered train, high speed rail

The adoption of high speed rail in the states stands to greatly curb greenhouse emissions while cutting down on our reliance on carbon-spewing cars and airplanes. Needless to say it’s one of our favorite transportation topics here at Inhabitat, so to say that this one caught our eye would be an understatement.

The system is being proposed by Solar Bullet LLC, founded by Bill Gaither and Raymond Wright. Their plan is to create a series of tracks that would serve stations including Chandler, Maricopa, Casa Grande, Eloy, Red Rock and Marana, and may one day stretch as far as Mexico City. The train would require 110 megawatts of electricity, which would be generated by solar panels mounted above the tracks.

Although the project is still in its early stages of development and the estimated cost is a whopping 28 billion dollars, the idea that someday in the future we could all be riding on solar powered bullet trains is simply too cool to resist.

+ Solar Bullet

Via Azstarnet

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  1. Ammar Haris November 30, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    can u explain the theoritical about this train using solar energy? im student by the way..this idea is the topic on my mini project..it would be nice if u can help me sir..

  2. humanistfreethinker August 26, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Such an innovative idea like this should be tested first on a small scale. An attractive way of doing this would be to design a small-scale children’s railway (as in a fairground) on a downtown site in Phoenix, say.
    In this way, local children could be both educated about solar power and entertained, the project could receive constant publicity. and the runnng costs and efficiency of the basic technology could be proven without prohibitive overheads.

  3. MyAIC October 15, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Does a High-Speed Rail Between Tucson and Phoenix Make Sense?

    On one hand, America’s 11 emerging megaregions (including the Sun Corridor) are already home to 70 percent of Americans, and will continue to grow. These regions – 100 to 600 miles across – have interconnected economies that necessitate easy travel within the regions. Often, highways are already too congested yet distances not long enough to make air travel a sensible alternative. In many cases, existing rail lines that could be used for high-speed rail already exist.

    On the other hand, public transportation of any kind only makes sense if people use it. In the Land of the Free, we have often proved reluctant to give up our personal automobiles. Except where driving that personal automobile is an outrageous hassle or expense – like in Manhattan, where everyone rides the train and subway, or in Chicago, where the elevated train is well-used. (Unlike Los Angeles or St. Louis, where the light rail is not heavily used.) Does driving between Phoenix and Tucson classify as that outrageous hassle? It well could. But – and this is a big but – can high-speed rail get me from where I am to where I want to go?

    Let me be clear, here, though: I think these are critical considerations, and issues we’ll have to tackle as we think about planning a successful high-speed mass transit connection between Phoenix and Tucson, but I don’t think they’re insurmountable issues. Europe and Japan are much more densely populated places, like the Eastern U.S. coast, but China is much more spread out (like Arizona) – and high-speed rail has worked well there so far.

    I wouldn’t yet say that we can’t afford to not build a high-speed rail line in the Sun Corridor, but I absolutely believe that we can’t afford to not think about it.


  4. DAEDALUS March 21, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Greece enters into Tropic of Cancer Right of Way development treaty
    with Egypt and others… E.U. pledges support…


  5. pearl298 December 29, 2009 at 3:57 am

    Kai forgets the cost of the highways that would be needed for those cars – that eats up the $3b and a lot more besides!

  6. topcatrw June 7, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Actually it will work just fine. The price quote in the paper was incorrect. The target cost is about $20 – $40 Million a mile. The technology is sound. Have you driven a hybrid car? Now consider the fact that with a fixed known path, the weight of the hybrid energy storage system (Supercap/Battery mix) can be moved from inside the vehicle to outside. Now add modern aerospace fuselage technology to reduce the weight and then consider removing power conversions and transmission losses by using High Voltage VDC instead of non green friendly AC, see Joint Strike Fighter and Space Station, then you easily start to close the technology gap. Also by having the “Linear powerplant approach” robotic cleaning of the panels can be achieved. Not a far stretch at all. RW

  7. Kai June 1, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Umm, this is $14,500 per resident of Tucson and Phoenix… It\’s sort of a nice idea, but if you want a cheaper idea you could wait until 2012 when the prices come down and buy a $30,000 all-electric plugin hybrid car for each household in either city… only $24 billion! That plan will be complete six years earlier, and cost $3b less — win-win.

  8. pmickelberg May 24, 2009 at 4:26 am

    Living in Tucson this could be a great idea. The panels would be better located in the tracks as the train would only shade them for a moment as it passes by and there would not be added cost for the structure to support the panels. It would not need to be a 220mph train to be more cost effective. There are few options in public transportation between the cities now so even a 90mph version would reduce the travel time by 50%.

  9. jireh May 19, 2009 at 3:26 pm


  10. davidwayneosedach May 15, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Don’t forget the Los Angeles – Las Vegas connection!

  11. chrisp68 May 14, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Stupid idea but, if you must use solar panels make them part of the track so you don’t have to another sturcture to construct with this proposal. The only chace for this to work would be the mag lev idea which supports placing the panels in the track anyway.

    Any yes, terrible rendering. Looks like color by numbers.

  12. appleman May 13, 2009 at 5:39 am

    putting the panels above the train is a great idea since it significantly reduces the amount of AC required to cool the inside of the train.

    If you haven\\\’t walked in the Arizona desert, try it sometime. You\\\’ll wish you had that panel over your head.

  13. Milieunet May 13, 2009 at 3:31 am

    Wow, that looks really cool and solar powerd is the future. Great development. Remembers me to another amazing project in the USA, The Interstate Hydrogen Superhighway in Michigan.


  14. 4udiary May 12, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Wow.. I khew this day will come.. use natural power..

  15. Jimmy Dolittle May 12, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Wow, now that looks WAY cool!


  16. benjaminmbaker May 12, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    A nice thought, but how would one maintain 700 miles of panels? There would have to be some serious consideration for the long term impact that the environment would have on this system. The projected cost is probably far too low, and the amount of water and cleaning solution that it would require to have these panels operating at a nominal capacity would be ridiculous. I hope that the maintenance and potential for failure are seriously considered before anyone invests more time in this project.

  17. Walter May 12, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    HAS ANYONE DONE THE MATH on this proposal? The article seemed to indicate that this is not a maglev, so you have to account for the rolling and air resistance on the one hand and the output of the solar collectors on the other (I am assuming regenetive braking will recover a good deal of the energy required to accelerate the train.)

    SECONDLY, I can see why a solar based train would be more attractive in sunny Arizona, but what exactly is the advantage of building your solar panels along the railline as opposed to be in a cluster behind a fence where you could protect it?

  18. akrenits May 12, 2009 at 9:09 am

    what a terrible rendering..

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