With World’s First Hyperloop, India to Revolutionize its Transportation System

The Los Angeles based transport tech firm, Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO), has got approval from the state government of Maharashtra to build the world’s first fully functional hyperloop route between Mumbai and Pune. The Maharashtra government has already conferred infrastructure status to the Mumbai-Pune ultrafast hyperloop project.

The ultramodern, superfast transport project is planned to link Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai and Wakad in Pune (approximately 150 km apart) taking almost four hours to cover the distance by car. The ultra-high-speed technology will reduce the commute time between the two cities to just 23 minutes.

Hyperloop in India Will Revolutionize Transportation System of the Country

Image: Hyperloop One

The Hyperloop Concept

Hyperloop is a proposed mode of transportation in a sealed tube through which a pod travels without any friction at high speed while being very efficient and reducing the commute time between the given distances.

In 2013, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, outlined a high-speed transportation system in a white paper release. The system relies on a maglev technology wherein the transport vehicle travels through a sealed, extremely low-pressure tube. The lack of air resistance enables the vehicle to travel at high speeds with minimal energy requirements.

Hyperloop system is said to be the most energy-efficient mode of mass transportation globally. It will be able to transport people and goods at 700 miles per hour in a depressurized environment through magnetic levitation.

The VHO system will be 5 to 10 times more efficient than an airplane and faster than high-speed rail using less energy. It will be able to carry more people than a subway at airline speed and with zero direct emissions.

Hyperloop in India Will Revolutionize Transportation System of the Country

Image: Hyperloop One

First Commercial Hyperloop Transportation System

There are a handful of transport companies across the globe that are trying to build hyperloop tracks. Virgin Hyperloop is one of the leading companies in the race for the first commercial hyperloop transport system.

But so far, it is the only company that has succeeded to build a Hyperloop test track in Nevada and successfully conducted its first full-scale test in late 2017. However, the top speed reached for this test was only 240 mph.

The first commercial hyperloop project was proposed between Mumbai and Pune, and the Maharashtra government has approved Virgin Hyperloop One – DP World consortium as the Original Project Proponent (OPP).

Mumbai-Pune Hyperloop Project

In May 2016, VHO started a global challenge to find the most promising hyperloop routes. Most entries were from India and out of those, the Mumbai-Pune route was chosen. The proposed route will connect Mumbai port and Pune with the fastest transportation system and there is going to be a proposed stop at Navi Mumbai International Airport.

The project will be completed in two phases and it will take approximately seven years for completion with a proposed budget of $700 billion. The first phase will be executed as a pilot basis for 11.8 km in the Pune Metropolitan Region with an estimated budget of $500 million and would be completed by the year 2023.

If all goes as planned, India could be the first country in the world to officially commission a hyperloop. The project involves a direct foreign investment (FDI) of Rs 70,000 crore making it the first project in the country having such a huge FDI.

Why’s India ideal for Hyperloop project?

India has multiple factors making it an ideal country for a hyperloop system. Mumbai and Pune route was selected for the first VHO project as 75 million passengers travel between the two cities every year and the number is expected to hike to 130 million by 2026. Virgin Hyperloop One can meet the constantly growing demand by transporting 200 million people annually. Besides, the construction, operations and manufacturing for this project are likely to create millions of jobs. It is expected that the hyperloop project will help India with its economic growth.

India doesn’t have any super fast land transportation modes and the lack of it creates congestion and chaos on roads and in the trains. The current infrastructure needs due to the rising populace and demand, make India a perfect choice for the hyperloop in the country. The country provides superior engineering talent, a low-cost manufacturing base, and a favorable regulatory environment for the project.

Another US firm, Hyperloop Transportation Technology has proposed to connect Vijayawada and Amravati in the southeastern coast of Andhra Pradesh.

Although the project looks promising, there are still many hurdles in the way.  There is a lot of work to do, and technical milestones to meet before hyperloop is whisking people in pods through a tunnel. The hyperloop system has not been tested with any human passengers yet.

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