The Indian state of Maharashtra has announced its intention to build a hyperloop that will cover the 150 kilometers (93 miles) between the state capital Mumbai and the city of Pune in just 25 minutes.


Virgin Hyperloop One inside a tunnel at the company's North Las Vegas, Nevada test site.
(Screengrab from video courtesy Virgin Hyperloop One)

The Maharashtra government announced February 19 that it has a framework agreement with Virgin Hyperloop One to build the tube-based high-speed transport system by 2025, starting with an operational demonstration track.

Every day over 130,000 vehicles make the three-hour journey between Mumbai, the financial center of Maharashtra, and Pune, the state's cultural capital, one of the busiest transport corridors in the country.

The company expects the hyperloop route to ease highway congestion and cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 150,000 tonnes annually.
Richard Branson, chairman, Virgin Hyperloop One, announced the framework agreement in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Navi Mumbai International Airport.

“I believe Virgin Hyperloop One could have the same impact upon India in the 21st century as trains did in the 20th century. The Pune-Mumbai route is an ideal first corridor as part of a national hyperloop network that could dramatically reduce travel times between India’s major cities to as little as two hours,” said Branson.

The hyperloop route will link central Pune, Navi Mumbai International Airport, and Mumbai in 25 minutes, connecting 26 million people, supporting 150 million passenger trips annually, and fostering a thriving, connected region across west-central India.

At the helm of this ambitious project is the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority and its CEO Kiran Gitte.

"With hyperloop, we are connecting the two metro hubs. Both Mumbai and Pune have mass, rapid transport systems for intra-city movement. Within Mumbai, there are 10 metro lines, and in Pune there are three lines," Gitte said.

"We will have a demonstration track between the route so that people can come and see what kind of experience hyperloop can provide, which is truly a 21st-century phenomena. ... People living here should know that this project is super-fast, safe."

Virgin Hyperloop One explains how it works. Passengers or cargo are loaded into the Hyperloop vehicle, which then accelerates gradually using electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. The vehicle floats above the track using magnetic levitation and glides at airline speeds for long distances due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag.

Hyperloop One systems will be built on columns or tunneled below ground to avoid dangerous grade crossings and wildlife. It’s fully autonomous and enclosed, eliminating pilot error and weather hazards. It’s safe and clean, with no direct carbon emissions.

Virgin Hyperloop One is the only company in the world that has built a fully operational Hyperloop system - complete with a levitation system, propulsion, power and electronics systems, controls, vacuum structures, and an autonomous pod.

Hyperloop is different from high-speed trains in four key ways. It’s two to three times faster than the fastest high-speed rail. It’s on-demand and direct. Trains follow a schedule and have multiple stops. Hyperloop pods can depart up to several times a minute and can transport passengers and cargo directly to their destination with no stops along the way.

It’s environmentally friendly, with a smaller civil engineering footprint, more efficient energy consumption and no direct emissions or noise. It’s less expensive and different technology. High-speed rail and maglev trains require power along the entire track. As a result, these tracks cost more to build and more to operate. Hyperloop One achieves better performance for less cost.


By Sunny Lewis

Environment News Service (ENS)