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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 February 2019

World's first commercial hyperloop to launch in Abu Dhabi next year

Testing on Hyperloop Transport Technologies underway - as massive cost of project is revealed

 Hyperloop Transportation Technologies chairman Bibop Gresta has said the first phrase of the ambitious transport link will open in 2020. Victor Besa / The National 
 Hyperloop Transportation Technologies chairman Bibop Gresta has said the first phrase of the ambitious transport link will open in 2020. Victor Besa / The National 

The world's first commercial hyperloop system will be launched in Abu Dhabi next year - as a once "far-fetched dream" gets set to become a reality.

That is the promise from the man tasked with driving forward the pioneering transport scheme, which is set to slash travel times between the capital and Dubai from more than an hour to just a handful of minutes.

Bibop Gresta, chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), said the hi-tech transport link would cost between Dh73 million and Dh146 million for every kilometre of the 150km route.

But he insisted that the huge investment made in the ambitious project would be recouped within "eight to 15 years".

In an interview with state news agency Wam, Mr Gresta announced that the Hyperloop capsule has now left the assembly line in Spain and is headed to Toulouse, France, for testing.

The first phase of the project involves construction of a 10km section of the route between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and is set to be ready in 2020.

"It was a far-fetched dream, but we are all excited now that it’s a dream coming true in the UAE in 2020," Mr Gresta said.

"Basically, the Abu Dhabi Hyperloop system is right now past the feasibility study. We have already completed the study after we partnered with Aldar Properties last year. It will be the first commercial Hyperloop line in the world."

In April of last year, HyperloopTT signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Abu Dhabi's Aldar Properties, which, when executed, will allow for the creation of a new Hyperloop TT centre including a full scale commercial Hyperloop system, a demonstration and visitor centre, and an innovation hub.

The proposed HTT site within Aldar’s Seih Al Sderieh landbank is located on the border of of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, close to the Expo 2020 site and Al Maktoum International Airport.

On Wednesday, HTT appointed design and engineering firm Dar Al Handasah to assist in bringing the Abu Dhabi commercial system into operation.

An artist impression of what a HTT hyperloop station in Abu Dhabi could look like. Courtesy Hyperloop Transportation Technologies
An artist impression of what a HTT hyperloop station in Abu Dhabi could look like. Courtesy Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

Dar Al Handasah’s team includes Dar Group members and architects Perkins+Will, American engineering firm TY Lin International, Spanish engineers GPO Group and British cost management company Currie & Brown.

The announcement moves plans for the high-speed transport system another step forward.

"The capsule has already left the assembly facility in Spain, and is on its way to Toulouse, France, where we have a prototype track. As soon as it arrives in Toulouse, it will be put in a tube and then they will test the system with the first passenger," said Mr Gresta.

"The capsule will be assembled and optimised in Toulouse, prior to use in the Emirates with the goal of eventually connecting Abu Dhabi to Al Ain and Dubai at unprecedented speeds, safely, efficiently, and sustainably," he added.

The cutting-edge technology uses electro-magnetic levitation engineering to carry pods at 1,123 kmph.

It is expected to reduce travel times between the emirates to a matter of minutes.

While the technology comes at a cost, Mr Gresta is confident the business model will be profitable.

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Read more:

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Abu Dhabi Hyperloop route announced following Aldar agreement

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"Hyperloop can quickly become profitable. It presents the ability to build a mass transit system that would not require government subsidies.

"An average cost generically comes between US$20 million (Dh73 million) to US $40 million (Dh146 million) per kilometre.

"We can recoup the investment in 8 to 15 years; it will be paying for itself and then it will be generating profits for the country. So it is not only fast but also very efficient.

"The Hyperloop system would have a low cost of implementation, as compared to other high speed transportation methods. It is a simpler, lighter weight, and less energy-intensive system.

The Hyperloop capsule is capable of travelling at 1,230kph, drastically cutting travel times between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Courtesy HTT    
The Hyperloop capsule is capable of travelling at 1,230kph, drastically cutting travel times between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Courtesy HTT    

"In regions where road and railway infrastructure is scarce, Hyperloop can be a leap over 20th century technology directly into the 21st century. In regions with developed infrastructure, Hyperloop can easily integrate and complement current and future road and rail networks," the chairman of the California-based company stressed.

Mr Gresta said sufficient safety measures will be put in place, adding that the system was earmarked as "feasible" and "insurable' by a leading global insurer.

"Hyperloop is primarily built on pylons, using best practices from civil engineering, including seismic design and ability to withstand thermal expansion. Also, it is completely automated with advanced technologies that only require monitoring from humans. The system is electrically powered, with no need for fuel on board, and is protected from the environment.

"We have developed tiered emergency plans and redundant escape procedures and systems in the event of any incident. The HyperloopTT’s system was deemed 'feasible and insurable' by the world’s largest reinsurance company Munich RE."

Updated: January 18, 2019 03:45 PM

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