Could India become home to the world’s first hyperloop system?
Priya Wadhwa
10X Technology

Could India become home to the world’s first hyperloop system?

The race to the world's first operational hyperloop continues.

If you’ve watched movies set in the early 1900s, you might have noticed how libraries and newspaper offices transported mail, books and even pages of a news story in cylindrical containers inserted in tubes. In fact, mail was transported through these series of tunnels in Paris and even in between Manhattan and Brooklyn back in the late 1900s.

Scale this up to a massive proportion and you have a more high-tech version now called a hyperloop system. While still a theory and not yet tested in the real world for the transport of humans, hyperloop technology is very intriguing.

Hyperloop functions on electricity, reaching speeds of 1,100 km/h through transporting the pod that gains acceleration in a low pressure tunnel.

The UAE has been in the news last year for launching a hyperloop project between Dubai and Abu Dhabi — touted to be the world’s first hyperloop transportation system. While there has not been any update regarding this, the studies are said to be underway.

Essentially two companies are vying to become the first to build this hyperloop transportation system in the UAE — Virgin Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT).

HyperloopTT announced that it will begin the construction of the “world’s first” hyperloop system in Abu Dhabi in Q3 2019, and has signed a deal for this with Abu Dhabi developer Aldar.

Meanwhile Virgin Hyperloop has set up offices in Dubai and is said to be testing the system. According to news sources, the project’s first phase of 10 kilometers in Abu Dhabi is expected to be fully operational by 2020. However, there has been no updates regarding this project since January 2019.

Officials in Maharashtra have named Virgin Hyperloop One and its partner shipping giant DP World as the originators of the multibillion-dollar infrastructure project
The Verge

In more recent news, the Government of Maharashtra has approved the development of the “world’s first passenger hyperloop system,” and will soon start the formal bidding process for its construction. Virgin Hyperloop One is confident of winning the tender.

Work is expected to begin in December 2019 or early 2020, taking seven years to complete, i.e. by 2026, reducing the commute time between Mumbai and Pune to under 35 minutes that currently takes more than 3.5 hours by car.

Virgin Hyperloop One is majorly backed by Dubai Ports World—its largest shareholder. The project in India is said to receive $500 million from DP World to see the completion of the hyperloop, without any taxpayer money being spent. There will be other investors who will add to the cost of the project.

"Maharashtra will create the first hyperloop transportation system in the world and a global hyperloop supply chain starting from Pune.”
Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, India

Furthermore, just last week Virgin Hyperloop One announced that it has signed a deal with the Government of Saudi Arabia to build the world’s first long-range test track of 35 kilometres in the west of the country, north of Jeddah. Hyperloop project is part of Saudi Vision 2030.

We cannot say who will finish the world’s first hyperloop project considering that the UAE and India are in talks with Virgin Hyperloop One — but more so because the entire concept of hyperloop travel is not tested in reality with human passengers. It remains a theory till date even though the pod construction has been tested out in the United States.

Successful development and consequently passenger travel could prove the success of this theory, which could revolutionise travel as we know it. Considering climate change, expected increase in air travel that adds to air pollution, and thereby the need for sustainable modes of travel — hyperloop transportation systems could revolutionise the space — especially considering its low-emission nature. This is also why we are way more excited for hyperloop travel than driverless cars!