Mumbai-Pune Hyperloop project: Everything you need to know

Virgin’s Richard Branson says “the Pune-Mumbai route is an ideal first corridor as part of a national hyperloop network that will dramatically reduce travel times between most of India’s major cities to under two hours”.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Maharashtra government to build a hyperloop transportation system between Mumbai and Pune. Billionaire investor Branson claims Hyperloop will drastically reduce the travel time between the two cities to 25 minutes from the present three hours. The announcement was made during the Magnetic Maharashtra investor summit.

“Virgin Hyperloop One can help India become a global transportation pioneer and forge a new world-changing industry. The Pune-Mumbai route is an ideal first corridor as part of a national hyperloop network that will dramatically reduce travel times between most of India’s major cities to under two hours,” Virgin Hyperloop One Chairman stated in a press release.

Key details such as the total cost of the project and an exact timeline of launch are yet to be finalised. Meanwhile, The Hindu Business Line claims it would take at least three years to complete the test run and about six years to kick-start commercial operations. It’s being claimed that the cost of building a hyperloop is much less than building a high-speed railway line for the same distance.

Last year, the Andhra Pradesh government had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the US-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) to connect the cities of Vijayawada and Amravati. Currently, the travel time between the two cities is approximately an hour. With the Hyperloop, it will come down to a mere six minutes.

For those who are not aware, Hyperloop is the next-generation train system, which uses a magnetic levitation and a low-pressure transit tube. The high-speed train network has been visualised as an alternative to short distance air travel and the existing train network. One can expect speeds reaching over 700 mph. The Hyperloop concept was first proposed by Elon Musk, the force behind SpaceX and Tesla. The technology has been open-sourced and Musk is longer directly involved in the development.

Tests are underway in several parts of the world. Although the Hyperloop has been hailed as an alternative to the existing transportation system, many believe that the concept is flawed and impractical. Musk originally estimated that a route from Los Angeles to San Francisco would cost about $6 billion, or approx $11.5 million per mile. But leaked documents from Hyperloop One (seen by Forbes) put that cost to $13 billion, or $121 million per mile. Besides that, it still faces technological, regulatory hurdles, and several issues related to ownership of land that could slow down the prospects of setting up a Hyperloop transportation system

Here are some data points shared by Branson.

Hyperloop will link central Pune, Navi Mumbai International Airport, and Mumbai in 25-minutes

It will connect 26 million people and support 150 million passenger trips per year

The Pune-Mumbai route could result in $55 billion (Rs 350,000 crore) in “socio-economic benefits, time savings, accident reduction and operational cost savings, over 30 years of operation”.

The route will be 100 per cent electric and could reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 86,000 tons over 30 years.

Branson says “the Pune-Mumbai route is an ideal first corridor as part of a national hyperloop network that will dramatically reduce travel times between most of India’s major cities to under two hours”.

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