It could travel the 149 kilometres between Mumbai and Pune anywhere between nine to 25 minutes, but will cost $40 million per kilometre to build. That’s the claimed potential of Hyperloop, a high-speed transport system, the idea for which was outlined by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2013.
The system involved podlike vehicles travelling through vacuum-like tubes at speeds of up to 1,200 kilometres per hour. Over the past couple of years, several companies have attempted to launch pilot projects and have been in touch with the governments of Chile, Spain and France, among others, to conduct feasibility tests.
On Wednesday, Mint reported that Los Angeles-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies had submitted a proposal to link Mumbai and Pune to Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. The company has stated that it could begin operations in 38 months after the project gets approval.
“It is very similar to an airplane on high altitudes,” CEO Dirk Ahlborn explains in this CNN Money clip. There’s “a’low-pressure environment inside a tube. A capsule that doesn’t touch anywhere. And because it is low-pressure, it does not encounter a lot of resistance.”
In the video below, by Hyperloop One, the company envisages what travelling in the system might look and feel like. The video is set in Dubai in 2020, where the world’s first Hyperloop travel system might be built.
However, since little testing and practical application of the technology has been carried out, many questions are unanswered. One of the biggest hurdle in making the technology a reality seem to be land rights, according to tech website Gizmodo.
“Trains, whether propelled by steam, diesel, or a frictionless tube, are still terrestrial things. And what terra we have in California. The very same mountains, cities, canals, farmers, and habitats that complicate [High Speed Rail] also complicate Hyperloop. The more the Hyperloop people drop hints and make innuendos about zipping this way and that without addressing the monumental public policy challenges that they’re going to face, governmental cooperation they’re going to need, and money that it’s going to cost, the less it’s going to sound like Tesla for the masses and the more it’s going to sound like a lost chapter of Atlas Shrugged.”— Josh Stephens