On June 13, Elon Musk’s tunnelling enterprise, the Boring Company, announced it had been chosen to design and build an express rail system connecting Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport with the city centre. This is the first major contract the company, which had been dismissed by some as a mere side project to Tesla and SpaceX, has managed to secure.
The project, called the Chicago Express Loop, will be a high-speed underground transportation system that travels between 125 and 150mph on “electric skates”. According to the Boring Company, the aim of the Chicago Express Loop is to “alleviate soul-destroying traffic” by travelling through tunnels rather than above ground.
The Chicago Express Loop promises to cut the travel time between O’Hare International Airport and downtown Chicago to 12 minutes
The loop will be privately funded by the Boring Company and, under the proposal, will have the capacity to transport close to 2,000 passengers each way every hour. The Chicago Express Loop also promises to cut the travel time between O’Hare International Airport and downtown Chicago to 12 minutes – approximately three to four times faster than existing over-ground rail links and congested roads.
“If you look at the history of Chicago… every time we’ve been an innovator in transportation, we have seized the future,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.
“The risk – with no financial risk – is I’m betting on a guy who has proven in space, auto and now a tunnel, that he can innovate and create something of the future. Given [Elon Musk’s] track record, we are taking his reputation and saying ‘this is a guy in two other transportation modes who has not failed’. That’s what we’re doing.”
Not yet a public company – and with a new, unproven concept – the Boring Company has had to be creative when raising capital. So far, funds have been bolstered by the sale of hats, fire extinguishers and flamethrowers.
The company’s primary function, as is suggested by its name, is the boring of tunnels, which can be painstakingly slow. The Boring Company has said its goal is dig tunnels as fast as snails can move.