Cutting travel time from three hours to 30 minutes seems like an impossible feat, but the brains behind the various Hyperloop projects all over the world believe it can happen. This bold idea claims to travel faster than a plane, taking people and cargo from point A to point B at a fraction of the cost. While most of the Hyperloop projects are in the United States, India is disrupting the industry with their proposed travel system.
First in the World
The proposed route supposedly could take passengers and cargo between the cities of Pune and Mumbai, a 100-mile distance by road, in about 25 minutes. A deal has been signed between Virgin Hyperloop One and the Indian government, paving the way to build possibly the first working Hyperloop system in the world.
Thanks to a group of 60+ students from BITS Pilani, called Team Hyperloop India, the primarily student collaboration aims to “leapfrog transportation in India.” Founded in 2015, they received support from Hindustan University Hindustan Institute of Technology & Science, Ripple Technologies, and many other sponsors. This is different from the initial India Hyperloop project proposed by Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Transportation Technologies dating back to 2016.
The Virgin Hyperloop One deal plans to develop specifically in the Andhra Pradesh state, connecting Amaravati and Vijayawada through a six-minute transport link. By car, it currently takes an hour to travel between these two cities.
“The Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop route will be an economic catalyst for the region and create tens of thousands of jobs for India’s world-class manufacturing, construction, service, and IT sectors and aligns with Make in India initiatives,” explained Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra region’s chief minister.
Catapulting India into the Hyperloop Lead
While the India Hyperloop project is still years away from getting started, a study conducted by Virgin Hyperloop One suggests this Pune to Mumbai route may eventually support as many as 150 million passenger trips annually.
In the same study, they found that around 30 years of operation could give about $55 billion in socio-economic benefits, including operational cost savings, time savings, less emissions, and even accident reduction. At present, they see greenhouse gas emissions potentially cut by up to 150,000 tons each year.
They will perform an even more in-depth feasibility study lasting six months to analyze several aspects of the route, including economic and commercial aspects, as well as the environmental impact, the regulatory framework, and recommendations for cost and funding models.
Once the partnership between public and private sectors is established, Hyperloop can build a demonstration track. This may take two or three years, followed by the construction of the full route that may take five to seven additional years. This means test journeys may occur in India by 2021, and a fully-working line may come as early as 2028.
Virgin Hyperloop One chairman Richard Branson is positive about their project, and even predicts that a national Hyperloop network within India may reduce travel times between the country’s major cities to “as little as two hours.” Future projects may extend the proposed Hyperloop route to the New Pune International Airport and the Jawaharlal Nehru Airport located in Pune and Mumbai respectively, as well as to Pune’s several industrial economic zones. “I believe Virgin Hyperloop One could have the same impact upon India in the 21st century as trains did in the 20th century,” Branson said. “Virgin Hyperloop One can help India become a global transportation pioneer and forge a new world-changing industry.”