Elon Musk: 12-minute trip from Chicago to O'Hare Airport possible within 3 years

ByCraig Wall and Megan Hickey WLS logo
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Elon Musk says 12-minute trip to O'Hare possible within three years
EMBED <>More Videos

High speed rail, connecting Chicago's Loop to O'Hare is now on track to be become a high teach reality.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A high-speed rail connecting Chicago's Loop to O'Hare is now on track to be become a high-tech reality. On Thursday, the mayor and the billionaire who wants to build the "Tesla Tunnel", were talking details.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel showed Elon Musk what would be part of the underground station for the new high speed line. It would utilize a mothballed station under Block 37, the launching spot in the Loop for the line that would be known as the Chicago Express.

It would whisk travelers to O'Hare on electric skates, powered by technology used in Tesla Model X vehicles.

The system will use electric vehicles that run through a 17-mile system of new twin underground tunnels.

"Getting from the city to O'Hare or back from O'Hare to the city is a race against time. And we're gonna give commuters a leg up in that race, which means Chicago will have a leg up in the race for the future," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The 12-minute ride would take travelers to and from O'Hare on one-way tracks traveling at speeds up to 150 miles per hour. The mayor pointed out it will take longer to get through security at O'Hare than it will to get there.

The work would be done by Musk's The Boring Company, which is currently building a test tunnel in Los Angeles.

The Chicago Express is a billion dollar project, but the technology is still unproven. The founder of SpaceX and Tesla did not seem deterred by doubters.

"You know I'd hope that you'd cheer us on for this. If we succeed, it's gonna be a great thing for the city, if we fail, well I guess me and others will lose a bunch of money," said entrepreneur and businessman Elon Musk.

The cost of the ride is yet to be determined. It will be more than a ticket on the Blue Line, but predicted to be about half of what it cost to get to O'Hare by taxi or ride-share.

"We expect to start as soon as we receive the approvals to start drilling later this year, perhaps as soon as three or four months, and we'll start drilling both from the station side and from the airport side," Musk said.

The project will be privately funded, with no taxpayer dollars involved. It does require city council approval, and there will be public hearings in the months ahead.

Musk said he thinks it can be completed in less than three years.

O'Hare travelers excited by prospect of high-speed rail option

The CTA estimates getting from the Loop to O'Hare on the Blue Line takes 40 to 45 minutes. This new train would take less than 15 minutes.

For Delta Pilot David Panklov, renderings of the "Tesla-in-a-tunnel" high speed service to O'Hare from the Loop couldn't become a reality soon enough.

"That's awesome. Hopefully it doesn't take too long to get up and running," said David Panklov, a Delta pilot.

Thursday morning at Block 37 Deputy Mayor Robert Rivkin said they're still ironing out the completion date with The Boring Company. While the technology looks like something from a sci-fi movie. it's all possible today.

"I think that's the beauty of it, nothing new about tunneling, nothing new about electric vehicles but you put them together and it can create something magic for Chicago," said Deputy Mayor Rivkin.

We got a look at the future station at the beginning of a 17-mile system of twin underground tunnels carrying electric vehicles at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour.

The projected cost? $20 to $25 one way.

The Boring Company released Wednesday renderings of what the underground system and rail cars would look like.

The company, founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, said this system could reach speeds of 150 miles per hour and make the trip from Block 37 to O'Hare in just 12 minutes.

Plenty of Blue Line passengers say they're on board.

"I mean it's cheaper than an Uber, cheaper than driving your car and parking so definitely anything we can get is an improvement especially with the city's proposal for expanding O'Hare," said Blue Line rider Nick Assaloni.

Panklov said because of the steeper fare he wouldn't abandon the Blue Line altogether...

"If I'm in a rush or I got to get to the airport at 5 a.m. you know I'll use a faster train," Panklov said.

But a 12-minute state-of-the art commute to O'Hare would be a game-changer for business people, travelers and tourists alike.