Before starting on the ambitious hyperloop project between Pune and Mumbai, Richard Branson's Virgin Group will be constructing a demonstration track.
There's no question that the super-speed Hyperloop, with pods travelling at almost 1,000 kmph, will cut travel time and enable many trips daily at an economical cost, besides speed of construction, with the Mumbai-Pune line to be ready by, say, 2021.
Before Mr Branson's investment, when it was named Hyperloop One, the Los Angeles-based company signed an early-stage agreement with Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority in 2016 to examine the business case for a hyperloop between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which it claims would cut the journey time between the two cities from 160 minutes to 12 minutes.
There are several firms attempting to bring the technology to market, including Elon Musk, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, and Virgin Hyperloop One, which is backed by the UAE ports operator DP World, whose chairman Sultan bin Sulayem is a board member. The hyperloop system will also have the potential for the rapid movement of palletised freight and light cargo between the Port of Mumbai and Pune, creating a robust backbone for on-demand deliveries, supply chains, and next-generation logistics. The 100% electric, efficient hyperloop system will ease severe expressway congestion and could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 150,000 tons annually.
The proposed project will begin after a six-month in-depth feasibility study which will analyze and define the route alignment, including environmental impact, economic and commercial viability, the regulatory framework, and cost and funding model suggestions.
But the lack of a proven system doesn't appear to be a problem for the growing number of governments around the world forming agreements with the company. The feasibility study will build upon the findings of the pre-feasibility study signed in November 2017 between the Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority and Virgin Hyperloop One.
The first step in the implementation of the project will be the implementation of an operational demonstration track. The second phase will target to complete construction of the full Pune-Mumbai route in five to seven years. The Pune to Mumbai link in India's western state of Maharashtra is seen as particularly important given the region's growth. But if Mumbai-Pune, Chennai-Bengaluru and Delhi-Mumbai via Indore can become a reality some day, we'll have to thank dreamers like Musk and Branson for making it possible.
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