The 150 km-long journey from India’s financial capital of Mumbai to the neighbouring city of Pune might soon be brought down to half an hour from the current three hours. British business magnate Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One recently signed a framework agreement with the Devendra Fadnavis-led Government of Maharashtra to build the first line connecting the two cities.
Originally envisioned by SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk, the Hyperloop is a magnetic levitation (Maglev)-based transport concept that was made “open-source” by Musk. Several companies are working on a commercial implementation of the Hyperloop – with Musk not being involved in them – most notably Los Angeles-bsed Hyperloop One. In 2007, Branson invested an undisclosed sum in the company that saw the name change and him being the new chairman. Prior to Branson’s investment, Hyperloop One had successfully tested the concept in their DevLoop test track in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 2017, it was reported that Mumbai-Chennai, Bengaluru-Chennai and Mumbai-Pune routes were among the most promising routes for the concept. The same year, it was announced that another company Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Andhra Pradesh to build a system conncting Vijayawada to Amaravathi on a public-private partnership. HTT’s founder Bibop Gresta had in 2016 said that India was a “natural fit” for the Hyperloop.
In May Virgin had signed an MoU with Maharashtra to explore potential routes in the state in November. Virgin will first build a test track over the next three years that will be integrated with the entire network and is expected to be operational in six years.
In the last few years, the rail network (in India) has been opened up. Once we get one route up and running, every city in India would be wanting Virgin Hyperloop One.Richard Branson
Virgin aims to transport 10,000 people per hour per direction on the Mumbai-Pune line. The Mumbai-Pune sector is among the most crowded corridors with over 70 trains and 150 buses operating on the route. India’s first expressway, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway is today among the most crowded roads in India with long traffic jams slowing down traffic. The Hyperloop – be privately funded – will be aligned along the Expressway and will have both passenger and cargo operations. The company is also in talks with the Governments of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka for developing systems in the two southern states.
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