The fifth mode of transportation — as envisaged by entrepreneur Elon Musk — is finding initial traction in India with two companies eliciting interest in developing the Hyperloop project here. They are also said to be in talks with the governments, of both the Centre and the states. These two companies are Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) and Hyperloop One (HO). Conceptually, Hyperloop uses special pods moving at high-speeds inside near-vacuum tubes. The Hyperloop programme is being pegged as a mode of transport different from rail, mainly due to four reasons. It is said to be two-to-three times faster than the fastest high-speed rail, and in India, it would be
possible for the pods to reach the peak speed of 1,100 km per hour on certain routes. Furthermore, Hyperloop departures could happen with a low frequency of a pod every 20 seconds. Start-ups involved in commercialising the technology have suggested that Hyperloop would have a smaller civil engineering footprint, with no direct
emissions or noise.
HO, which is developing its technology in Los Angeles, said it has planned to hold public tests this year with a goal to have three systems in service by 2021. “Capital cost per mile of Hyperloop system is 60 per cent that of high speed rail and would be less expensive to operate,” the company claimed. “Construction is well underway on our own full scale Development Loop (Devloop) in the Nevada desert, combining all the sub-systems: pod, tube, vacuum, levitation, propulsion and braking,” it said. At an event organised by HO in the capital on Tuesday, the company had put up four potential routes on which Hyperloop could be operated. These include: Delhi to Jaipur to Indore to Mumbai in 80 minutes; Mumbai to Pune to Kolhapur to Hubablli to Tumakuru to Bengaluru to Hosur to Vellore to Sriperumbudur to Chennai in 60 minutes; Mumbai to Mangaluru to Chennai to Hyderabad to Kolkata in 60 minutes; and Bengaluru to Coimbatore to Kochi to Thiruvananthpuram in 40 minutes.
“We’re looking to co-develop the technology in India with a partner. The pods would be manufactured in India, once this becomes operational,” said Shervin Pishevar, who is the executive chairman and co-founder of HO. HO said it would conduct a full systems test in Nevada this year, and apart from that, has four projects underway across the world – in the Netherlands, a connection between Sweden and Finland, and projects to connect two different ports in UAE with Dubai.
The other Hyperloop start-up HTT is also in talks with the governments to set up the technology. HTT is in discussions with five Indian states to build a high-speed travel network and will also raise $100 million to invest in the country. “We have five offers on the table from five chief ministers. We spoke to them and the one that will give us the land we will go and build. We have local partners and we are now raising $100 million and bringing another investment from abroad,” HTT chairman Bipop Gresta was quoted by PTI as saying. However, a Hyperloop ride in India is not likely to be a reality in the immediate future, with the government examining its options from the two companies. “India will follow a very rigorous process before selecting a partner because our process has to be extremely transparent… Our minds are open though we’d not go hyper right now but we’re happy about it,” said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.