Competition to open the first super-speed transport heats up, but regulations and existing infrastructure could hold up development
Global race to bring first Hyperloop to passengers goes into hyperdrive
As Hyperloop Transportation Technologies claims it is winning the race to bring super-speed transport to the UAE, American Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk is moving ahead with plans for a high-speed network between New York and Washington DC.
The Hyperloop, which is under development by his Boring Company, plans to reduce travel times from the fastest Amtrack trains from three hours to just one hour using similar pods fired through electromagnetic underground tubes.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One is also planning to use the same technology in other routes in Asia, Europe and North America with a test site in the Las Vegas desert.
Virgin Hyperloop One aims to begin full-scale testing by 2021, with feasibility studies being conducted for routes in Colorado and Missouri.
The technology appears a viable alternative to congested roads and air traffic subject to weather delays, yet some remain sceptical the industry will ever become mainstream.
Critics include the Institute of Transportation Studies at University of California, Los Angeles, whose associate director Juan Matute said a reliable Hyperloop system may never be implemented.
Regulation, government approval and environmental concerns could halt further developments, but HyperloopTT insists the company's close dialogue with Abu Dhabi has made it the most likely company to be in operation first.
Forbes magazine has suggested a mile of Hyperloop track could cost up to US$121 million, but those at HyperloopTT claim routes using their model of renewable and kinetic energy would soon become cost neutral.
Speaking at the launch of the working partnership in 2016, Khalid Mohamed Hashim, acting executive Director of Land Transport Sector at DMAT in Abu Dhabi, said a higher connectivity between two of the largest cities in the Emirates would mean less reliance on private vehicles and traditional public transport modes, and more sustainable transport to reduce emissions.