British entrepreneur and tycoon Richard Branson wants to build a super-fast so-called hyperloop in India between the cities of Mumbai and Pune.
It currently takes around around 3.5 hours to make the 100-mile journey, either on a train or by car but Branson thinks the Virgin Hyperloop One can shrink that journey time down to just 25 minutes.
Timeline for Crossing borders
The hyperloop concept involves commuters being whisked through magnetic, levitating tubes at speeds in excess of 700mph and has developed rapidly with inventors and investors giving their backing.
The proposed hyperloop track will be only the second ever operational test track, and the transport technology startup’s first location outside the US.
India could be running test journeys by 2021 and be fully functional in five to seven years.
What was said:
Speaking at the announcement in India yesterday Branson said:
Mumbai-Pune is one of the most busiest routes in the world, anybody who uses it regularly knows it can be unpleasant route to travel on.
The study just shows that the opportunity is enormous and the government is welcoming it with open arms and they are working very closely with us to make it happen.
Three years from now we will finish the test run on this route and six to seven years from now the route will be commercially opened.
We are in discussion with lot of different people in lot of different areas. I don’t think we can give you anything specific right now. But we are going to tap into the best brains in India to make it possible.
New @Virgin @HyperloopOne in India could connect 26 million people, support 150 million passenger trips per year & help create a thriving, competitive megaregion https://t.co/IkYbfIs2yi pic.twitter.com/G4fh2WZ5TY
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) February 18, 2018
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Why it matters:
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi is plowing about $133bn into the country’s rail networks and last year kicked off a plan to build a 316-mile bullet train line linking the commercial hubs of Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
Rapid urbanisation means the country sorely needs new and efficient ways of moving people around.
India may well be the first market for Hyperloop One and could become operational even before the US, the Middle East, or Europe where the company is also considering building its service.
Branson, signing the agreement with Modi, said he thinks Hyperloop could be the equivalent of rail in India — making long distance transport possible for millions of people.
Virgin Hyperloop claims the plan would bring with it thousands of new jobs, reduce pollution and bring in $55bn in eonomic benefits. The company reckons it will be able to move 10,000 passengers along the route in an hour and could potentially move 150m people in a year.
Hyperloop was thought up by Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk and is now being developed by several companies. Musk proposed what he called a “fifth mode of transport” in 2012.
Branson became involved in Hyperloop One last year, investing cash, becoming chairman and renaming it Virgin Hyperloop.
Testing in Nevada has seen it travel at speeds of 200mph, though a fully functioning passenger carrying version is likely some way off.