The company is opening its first office outside the US in Dubai
Virgin Hyperloop One accelerates efforts to launch routes in UAE
An American firm behind plans to build a supersonic transport system is accelerating its efforts to launch the world’s first service in the UAE.
Officials at Virgin Hyperloop One said the company is set to open an office in the emirates as the project continues to develop.
The proposed scheme will see high-speed trains, or pods, transport passengers at up to 1,200kph along a vacuum-sealed track.
Possible routes include a line between Dubai and Abu Dhabi and between Mumbai on India's west coast and the inland city of Pune, according to the company.
“We are actually setting up our first office outside of the US in Dubai,” Harj Dhaliwal, managing director for the Middle East and India, told CNN.
The hyperloop concept was first conceived by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk in 2013.
The technology uses electromagnets to accelerate trains through a low-pressure tube, allowing the vehicle to glide silently with little to turbulence.
By December last year, Virgin Hyperloop One had raised $295 million (1.08bn) in private finance and had demonstrated a form of the propulsion technology at a test site in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It is now one of two companies vying to build the first such a system in the UAE, with the other being Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), another California-based firm.
Under the proposed UAE scheme, Virgin Hyperloop One’s pods will take just 12 minutes to cover the distance between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It currently takes around 1hr 20 min to drive between the two cities.
Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi have both been identified as possible stations on the Dubai to Abu Dhabi route.
The company is also studying the possibility of operating the pods alongside highways, according to Dubai Tourism.
Phase one of the project could involve building a 20km corridor running parallel to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed highway, serving areas such as Dubai South and Dubai Investment Park, it added.
“We have proven that all our systems work in a vacuum environment,” Mr Dhaliwal told CNN.
There is currently no timeline for Virgin Hyperloop One’s Dubai project, according to Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority. Feasibility studies are ongoing.