# Is Picard's note about speed in Borg transwarp conduits correct?

In Star Trek Picard Season 1, Episode 9, Picard says:

We just came 25 light-years in 15 minutes.

Is that figure right?

In Star Trek: TNG, at warp speed 9.6, the Enterprise-D can travel 25 LY in about 3 days. 3 days / 15 minutes = 288. Is Borg trans-warp about 288 faster than warp 9.6 ?

If this is true, then Voyager would need - for its full voyage of about 70,000 LY - a little over 29 days. Is that right? That is, does it square with ST:VOY canon?

In the clip in this question, the travel speed seems to be 65 LY in about 10 seconds or less. So, doesn't seem to square.

• In keeping with Star Trek's canon 'FTL is whatever the writers need it to be', there is nothing that defines the 'speed' travelled within a Borg conduit. There is nothing that states the 'speed' within a conduit or wormhole is constant nor that the time required to travel a specific distance is directly proportional to travelling another specific distance. ST-VOY did show that there are many paths/tunnels within a Borg conduit so the time taken to get from start to end of a journey is completely relative to the situation, i.e. 'whatever the writers need it to be'.
– user62584
Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 1:13
• That's 2-1/2 hours for the Orville... So 10 times faster... Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 2:02
• Voyager needed something like 75 years to traverse the 70,000 or so LY to get back to the Alpha quadrant... works out to about 1000c give or take. Picard's remark implies something like 875,000c. The transwarp corridor was definitely an advantage. Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 3:05
• @AnthonyX: I was talking about Voyager's transwarp journey. Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 7:10
• With all "new Trek," continuity goes out the window. Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 4:08

## 2 Answers

If you recall from TNG 'Descent' episodes (parts I and II), the Enterprise-D encountered Transwarp conduits which were apparently set up by the Borg.

Since those conduits were set up decades ago (and by renegade Borg separated from the Collective), its very possible those conduits operate on slightly different principles and as a result are slower than the ones we saw the Borg use later on in the DQ. After all, technology advances (exponentially) and the renegade Borg in TNG would have only had the working knowledge to create TW conduits as they were possible back then.

From Star Trek TNG Descent Part I:

PICARD: How fast would a ship travel through one of these conduits?

LAFORGE: We don't know. Normal subspace limitations don't apply to transwarp variables. But I'd say based on the distance we covered during our trip through the conduit, the speed would have to be at least twenty times faster than our maximum warp.

In Star Trek Voyager however it was established by Tom Paris in episode 'The 37's' that Warp 9.9 = 4 billion miles per second (which equates to 21 473 times speed of light).

That would mean that the TW conduits from ST: Picard are actually 40.8 times faster than Warp 9.9 (but then again, Warp speed was also A LOT faster in early TNG - remember that in TNG Season 1, it would have taken Ent-D approximately just over 300 years to traverse 2.7 million Ly's... indicating a speed of 9000 times speed of light (at a theoretical maximum warp speed of 9.2-9.6 at the time of TNG Season 1).

It wasn't until Voyager came along the writers muddied the numbers by quite a bit, intentionally dropping Warp speeds to really low levels to make the galaxy seem 'vast' (which if you want my personal opinion was completely unnecessary and wrong - they could have just thrown Voyager well beyond the galaxy - millions of ly's away and said it would take the ship 75 years to get back at maximum sustainable warp).

Also, TNG Enterprise-D was usually only able to reach and maintain Warp 9.6 as an upper stable/sustained speed, however, I suppose its 'theoretical maximum' might have been 9.9 for a very limited time frame (and Geordi DID say 'at least'... so that leaves considerable margin for difference).

Another quote from ST: Descent Part I:

PICARD: Report.

RIKER: Navigational sensors show that we've travelled sixty five light years from our previous position.

65 Ly's from a relatively brief jolt of 8-10 seconds if it was supposed to be real time... however, we were never told how long the ship spent inside the conduit.

If it was indeed 65 Ly's in about 10 seconds, that would imply a speed of conservative 390 Lightyears per minute, and 23,400 Lightyears in just 1 hour (or 561,600 LY's per day which translates to 204,984,000 times speed of light).

Voyager was quoted on a few occasions that its 'maximum sustainable cruise velocity' is Warp 9.975.

Given that Warp speeds increase in velocity exponentially past every increment after Warp 9.9, Warp 9.975 would actually be equivalent to roughly 400 Ly's per hour... or basically faster than Quantum Slipstream version 1 (which allowed Voyager to traverse 300 Ly's in 1 hour) and those Borg TW conduits from ST: Picard.

Incidentally, Quantum Slipstream version 2 as seen in ST VOY: Timeless has a speed of approximately 10 000 Ly's per 1 minute (which is even faster than those Borg TW conduits from TNG Descent).

And similarly, The Borg Transwarp Hub seemed to have produced similarly fast TW conduits (which allowed Voyager to get back to Federation space). Since Voyager's ride inside the Hub's TW conduits was obviously a few minutes long, we have to assume that those TW conduits were slower than QS V2 by roughly half as much (why? mainly because by that point, Voyager was roughly 16 000 ly's away from Earth - remember that at some point in Season 7, Q2 episode had Q doing Voy a favour and bringing them a bit closer to Earth - it wasn't stated just how much closer, but its estimated Voyager was before that 30 000 Ly's away from Earth... and Q brought them closer by about 14 000 Ly's).

Since we never saw Voyager achieve or sustain Warp 9.975 (remember that in the episode 'Threshold', the ship started shaking itself apart when reaching 9.9 with the computer warning they are reaching 'structural collapse, Chakotay was forced to drop speed to Warp 9.5), we have to reach a conclusion that Voyager's engines were either damaged in their transition to the Delta Quadrant which the crew was not able to repair, preventing them from achieving and maintain their 'maximum sustainable cruise velocity', or the vessel was never capable of reaching Warp 9.975 in the first place and it was an 'error', and in fact were only capable of reaching 9.75 for a limited period as evidenced by episode 'The Swarm' :

TUVOK: They appear not to have detected us. They have not powered up engines.

JANEWAY: All right, let's get through this as fast as we can. Mister Paris, what's your recommendation?

PARIS: I'll try holding warp nine point seven five for as long as I can.

If Warp 9.975 was a 'maximum sustainable cruise velocity' for Voyager, that means the ship would have been able to reach and maintain it indefinitely (or for as long as they have the fuel)... and it would have returned home in less than 7 days.

And while this Warp factor (9.975) seems 'consistent' with an exponential jump in technology and science since TNG (which fits for what the Federation in 24th century should be able to achieve in the 7-10 years time frame), the overall series TNG, DS9 and VOY made it clear that no SF ship on a consistent basis was able to go past Warp 9.9 (except under extreme conditions which involved alien influence or anomalies - and those were rather infrequent).

In fact, most Starfleet ships were achieving speeds BELOW 9.9 (it wasn't until the USS Prometheus was launched (Voyager Season 4 - Message in a Bottle) that that particular ship was able to seemingly achieve/sustain Warp of 9.9 without effort - it was stated by VOY EMH that the Prometheus was travelling at Warp 9.9 straight for Romulan space).

Anyway... the TW conduits as seen in ST:Voyager were shown to be consistently faster (than the ones in ST: TNG Descent or Picard) and this could be attributed to technological progression made by the Borg since TNG, and we've seen them either generating their own TW conduits through use of TW coils, or that the conduits can be set up by use of 'subspace manifolds' which keep the conduits intact/operational (though the manifolds were seen in use for the Borg TW network which spanned the Galaxy and was subsequently 'obliterated' as stated by 7 of 9 at the end of Voyager series).

So, the TW conduits seen in ST: Picard could either be the same ones we saw in TNG Descent (just never used/explored), but the reason for their seemingly much lower speed could be multi-factored... lack of subspace manifolds, they were generated differently or they degraded from lack of maintenance/use/whatever (this last one could easily be the case).

They are still (apparently) faster than your highest possible sustainable Warp as seen in TNG/DS9/VOY... however, we also don't know how much faster SF ships have gotten in ST: Picard, nor do we know how fast is the La Sirena (but it seems the writers apparently kept the element of 'wow' for TW conduits being faster than Warp - which is odd because you'd think by this point the Federation would be zipping around the Milky Way galaxy in minutes from everything they learned in previous series ranging from TNG, DS9 and VOY (especially when you think that science and technology evolve exponentially) and these speeds from TW conduits would be a 'roll eye' moment - if anything, they would prompt a 'why so slow?' question - but it WAS a minor clip to be honest and we won't know if they have more to say on this subject in the upcoming episode.

• Obviously Voyager's 9.975 cannot be a cruising speed despite the claim in the pilot. As you point out it is barely believable as a maximum theoretical speed. That can't be pointed out often enough. But I suppose if it has a galaxy class level warp core and a constitution class size and mass that extra energy can go towards the extra speed. Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 5:24
• Without looking it up I believe there was a mention in TNG of the Enterprise D having an absolute top speed of warp 9.8 which was only sustainable for approx 10hrs Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 7:28
• "they could have just thrown Voyager well beyond the galaxy" though that would have played havoc with the communication back home, at least in DQ they had a 'reasonable' ability to communicate with home. Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 10:00
• @RyanMcDonough It would also mean that large amounts of the series involved Voyager travelling through the empty space between galaxies, which would get kind of boring. Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 10:48
• @PrincessAda: you don't like idea of five straight seasons' worth of Captain Proton holodeck episodes? Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 14:19

The approchyra states that while high warp velocities are attainable they require the warp core shut down and cooling after heavy usage. For example in real world air forces, jet's today require several hours of upkeep for every hour it spends flying. The starships require several hours of cooling and maintenance for every hour it spends at high warp velocity. In the TNG episode Legacy they did just that PICARD: Engine status. DATA: Stable. But we have maintained warp factor nine for longer than is recommended, sir. That's why even at maximum warp for Voyager it should traverse the 70,000 lightyear journey in a decade or so (assuming having to stop for fuel/spare parts), not 75 years.......While it can attain maximum warp speed for about 12-14 hours consecutively, every hour at maximum warp afterwards requires about many hours of cool down, maintenance and ship inspection. Transwarp works on different principles of "Star trek physics". In an episode of Voyager they stole a transwarp conduit to cut their journey time, presumably. Even if the merger of technology didn't achieve "True" transwarp it did shave considerable distance off their journey (though it's never specified how long it was operating) presumably by augmenting their ships warp field with subspace altering tweeks...Thus allowing the ship to either exceed it's highest warp velocity or operate as such for a much longer duration.

• To be fair, I have no problem with Voyager using Warp 9.975... if the writers knew it was 400 ly's per hour and that any space faring alliance of cultures would result in massive acceleration of technological and scientific progress (would still be exponential but with a much larger knowledge base than just 1 or 2 species developing). Anyway, using 9.975 would take Voyager just about 7 days to get back... but the writers could have reduced that to just half of 9.9 ( 21 473 times Ls - which could land it at say 9.75 and take voyager exactly 7 years to get back - or 10 000 ly's per 1 year)
– Deks
Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 1:08