The Devendra Fadnavis led Maharashtra cabinet on Tuesday (31 July) approved the Pune-Mumbai hyperloop project which promises to cut travel time from over three hours to just 23 minutes, Indian Express has reported.
Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (PMRDA) which is spearheading this project is all set to float a tender for the first phase next month. Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One is the favourite to bag the project which needs a total investment of Rs 70,000 crore.
The hyperloop project will be divided in two phases. Phase-I which will be a 11.8 km demonstration track needing an investment of Rs 5,000 crore. The Maharashtra government has already inked a memorandum of understanding with Virgin Hyperloop to develop this test track in Pimpri-Chinchwad’s Wakad.
As the hyperloop has been declared a public infra project, other firms will have an option of bring their proposals on board and would bag the contract in case they offer a 10 per cent betterment than Virgin.
As things stand, Virgin is all set to begin construction of the first phase by the year end. Work is expected to be completed by 2023. In the second phase of the project, Wakad will be connected to Kurla, 117 km away in Mumbai.
How Hyperloop Works
The Virgin Hyperloop will transport passengers or cargo in pods, which will pass through a sealed vacuum tube designed to nullify air resistance. It also seeks to reduce friction by doing away with conventional tracks and instead use a form of magnetic levitation (Maglev) to run the pod.
Virgin’s Maglev technology involves pod-side permanent magnets which repel a passive track, powered by an input energy of the pod speed. It seeks to control conductivity to reduce harmful eddy currents so that the pod magnets are repelled with low drag.
The project promises to deliver speeds up to 1,100 kmph, faster than any public transport system currently available. Modern jets like Airbus A380 and A320 have a cruising speed of around 900 kmph.
Current Technology Status
For all the promise and excitement, the project is still in the testing phase. Virgin is all set to construct a 7 mile test track in Nevada where it plans to achieve speeds up to 800 kmph. Currently, It is using a 1,640 foot long and 11 foot high tube for conducting hundreds of runs with an empty pod. The highest speed it has achieved is 390 kmph.