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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Virgin Hyperloop One reveals new management after Richard Branson resignation

The futuristic transportation company announced two senior posts within its team

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of DP World, is the new chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One. Reuters
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of DP World, is the new chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One. Reuters

Sultan bin Sulayem, group chairman and chief executive of DP World, has been elected as chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One — replacing Sir Richard Branson, who stepped down from his post in October.

The futuristic transportation company also made the announcement this weekend and revealed that Jay Walder, who headed up of some of the world’s largest transportation systems - including the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City, Transport for London and MTR in Hong Kong - has been appointed chief executive and will join the company’s board of directors.

Mr Walder replaces Rob Lloyd, who served as chief executive of Virgin Hyperloop One for more than three years.

"The selection of a new senior management team will allow Virgin Hyperloop One to transition its focus from technology start-up to mass transportation company, beginning with the implementation of the world’s first hyperloop system running from Pune to Mumbai," a statement from the company said.

DP World is the largest investor in Virgin Hyperloop One, and Mr bin Sulayem has more than three decades of experience across various industries.

“As we enter uncharted territory in implementing an entirely new kind of mass transportation system, we needed a leader with a deep understanding of public transportation, experience in infrastructure financing, a track record of project delivery, and success working with government and private sector partners,” Mr bin Sulayem said.

“We could not have found a more ideal candidate than Jay Walder for the next stage of the company’s development and the historic growth of this new industry.”

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Mr Walder said that after focusing his career on using technology to advance innovation in transportation, he "could not pass up the opportunity to lead the company that has pioneered hyperloop".

Last month, Virgin Group founder Mr Branson resigned from his post as chairman, saying the position required more time than he could give.

“At this stage in the company’s evolution, I feel it needs a more hands-on chair, who can focus on the business and these opportunities," the billionaire Briton said.

As chairman, he secured transport agreements with India and Spain and began working with a number of US states to develop hyperloop technology — which uses magnetic levitation and low-pressure tubes to attain aircraft-like speed.

The company is now focusing on a major project in India, to develop a hyperloop track between Pune and Mumbai. If the government awards the project a concession, the company will begin construction on the 11km test loop next year. When completed, hyperloop will reduce the travel time between Mumbai and Pune to 25 minutes from about four hours.