Hyperloop Could Be the Change Required To Transform Transportation of Passengers and Freight in India

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Harsirat Kaur
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Hyperloop is a sealed tube mode of transportation through a pod with low air pressure and substantially free of air resistance and friction. It is the baby of SpaceX and Tesla founder, Elon Musk. There is no fully functional hyperloop in the world as of right now. But, India is aiming to be the first. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is an American startup company that is hoping to revolutionize travel. If you want to know the scenario of traveling in such a pod, imagine this. You are well-traveled because you could economically traverse between cities at speeds exceeding 700 miles per hour in a carbon-neutral way.

Pods carrying passengers and cargo will have magnetic levitation and electric motors will propel them. It is an entirely new technology that is finding a way to evolve in the transportation world and make itself better than rail and air travel. It is a bit of air, land, and rail transport, but it’s nothing like these at the same time.

Hyperloop Project in India

In 2017, HTT or now Virgin Hyperloop One signed agreements with the governments of Maharashtra and Karnataka to study the impact of hyperloop in a region. Ryan Kelly, head of marketing and communications of Virgin Hyperloop One said that their Indian plan project aims at making the project successful globally. 

Officials in Maharashtra named Virgin Hyperloop One and DP World as the initiators of the multibillion-dollar infrastructure project. The officials are aiming at linking Pune-to-Mumbai to facilitate travel in under 35 minutes. The car travel between the two cities is a 3.5-hour trip.

Mumbai-Pune Hyperloop
Devendra Fadnavis, former CM of Maharashtra

Harj Dhaliwal, Managing Director for Hyperloop One’s the Middle East and India region noted the potential the company has in India. He said, “India is home to the fastest growing global economy, a vibrant young workforce, and world-class high-tech engineering skills. It makes an ideal market to launch Hyperloop.” The plans in India included the procurement process to finish by 2019 and the construction to start in 2020. Dhaliwal expects the full commercial operations to start on the Mumbai-Pune line by 2029.

How does Hyperloop’s future in India looks like?

Hyperloop India
Complete plan of Hyperloop in South India–Source: The Maritime Executive

The recent change in the Maharashtra Government left the project’s plans in an uncertain air. Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority asked the Maharashtra Infrastructure Development Enabling Authority to allot a part of the project work to private players, in 2018. The Pune Authority proposed that the project should adopt the ‘Swiss Challenge Method’ with the proponents. In November, the project was declared a public infrastructure project. In January 2019, PMRDA asked the public to leave suggestions about the project. However, recently a senior officer told a major publication that nothing of the project is finalized.

NCP’s Ajit Pawar, Finance Minister of Maharashtra said that they would like to wait for the system to run successfully elsewhere before inaugurating it in India. Another hassle is the Coronavirus state in Maharashtra. Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Jay Walder said that the 140km Hyperloop Project in India is on hold with no set date to restart. He said, “I hope that we can pick that up soon, but it will depend on the crisis.”

So, currently, the chances of the project’s success seem pretty bleak. There are other similar leading projects all over the world. Apart from Pune-Mumbai one, we have:

  • LA-San Francisco Hyperloop,
  • Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Hyperloop,
  • Hyperloop between ST. Louis, Kansas City, and Columbia,
  • Indian Hyperloop between Amravati and Vijayawada.

The progress on all these is pretty slow as well. If the plan comes to fruition, it will mark India’s first-ever fastest and sustainable travel project to create approximately a million jobs. But, looks like this next-generation technology project is not happening anytime soon.

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