Thu 16 Nov 2017 - Projects

Envisioning a National Indian Hyperloop Network

Harj Dhaliwal

Managing Director, Middle East & India

Three Indian states think it’s time to include some bold thinking in transport planning: hyperloop. Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, home to several of India’s largest economic centers including Mumbai and Bengaluru, are conducting studies with Hyperloop One to understand hyperloop’s feasibility and economic impact in the regions.


If hyperloop networks were established and linked among all three states, India could create a nationwide network that would enable travel within major cities in India in under two hours. This network could create the largest connected urban area in the world by linking nearly 75+ million people across the three states.


“Imagine the potential impact on people’s lives and commerce if travel between Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, and Amaravati could take place in under two hours. Hyperloop could change the face of India just as trains did during the Industrial Revolution,” said Nick Earle, SVP of Global Field Operations, Hyperloop One.


India has had a successful track-record of leapfrogging into new technologies. When mobile services were launched in the mid-1990s, the country moved directly to second generation (2G) technologies and rapidly rolled-out wireless, particularly in unconnected, rural communities. They continued this progression by embracing 4G over 3G. Now India now counts itself amongst the largest telecom markets in the world with more than billion subscribers and 80% mobile penetration. Wireless adoption has been a boon economically with the country realizing a 3.3 percent increase in GDP for every ten percent increase in mobile usage.


Hyperloop presents an opportunity for India to leapfrog again and address weaknesses in its transportation infrastructure. With speeds 2-3 times faster than high-speed rail, hyperloop can connect far-flung Indian cities as if they were metro stops, and offer energy-efficient, on-demand, and cost-effective transport at aircraft speeds.


The three states believe that hyperloop could improve global competitiveness, reduce congestion and emissions, and provide citizens with better social and economic mobility. While the studies underway would identify potential routes in each state, there are plenty of opportunities within each state where hyperloop could make a difference.


Three Indian States Studying Hyperloop


Andhra Pradesh: Connecting A New Capital Amaravati


Andhra Pradesh is a state rich in resources, skilled professionals, and has a strategic location bordering five states and the Bay of Bengal. In 2014, the north-west portion of Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated to form a new state of Telangana. The long-time state capital, Hyderabad, was transferred to Telangana and Amaravati was named the new capital of Andhra Pradesh. The state government is heavily focused on growing its new capital city which is isolated from existing infrastructure, including airports and seaports, and other cities in the region. Hyperloop is uniquely suited to help address the city’s isolation.


Today, the closest airport to Amaravati is in Vijayawada, a 90-minute to two-hour drive on small, congested roads. Hyperloop could help connect Amaravati’s city center to the airport in about five minutes, a critical connection to drive business, tourism, and trade for the new capital. Additionally, Hyperloop could connect the capital with major economic hubs such as Vizag and eventually Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bengaluru. An ultra-fast connection could enable journeys between Amaravati and Visakhapatnam in 27 minutes, and Bengaluru in 45 minutes. These connections would enable daily commutes from regional metros and other states without the need for talent to move to the emerging capital initially.


Maharashtra: Bolstering Infrastructure Innovation By Linking Mumbai to Pune & Beyond


Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital Mumbai, has a strong tradition of innovative infrastructure investments. Mumbai has the busiest commuter rail system in the world and transports 7.6 million people every day, equivalent to the entire population of Sierra Leone. The state also introduced the first six-lane highway in the country and is the process of adding a second airport in Mumbai. Hyperloop could help address several critical needs in the state.


Today, more than 90,000 cars travel daily between Pune and Mumbai on the Mumbai Pune Expressway, a 140-kilometer journey that can take upwards of two to three hours. Hyperloop could reduce this lengthy commute to about 14 minutes. An eventual extension to Nagpur would vastly improve economic connections and freight transport between interior and coast.


Hyperloop could also help to streamline air travel within Maharashtra. Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport is experiencing passenger demand growth at 20% and will be at capacity by next year. Mumbai is building Navi Mumbai International airport over 40-kilometers east of the city. It is expected to open by 2020 away from the city’s worst congestion, but rising delays everywhere will hamper access. With a hyperloop connection, travelers could be at whichever airport is closest and quickly transfer to the other. Connecting the airports via hyperloop would create a mega-airport capable of eventually serving over 100 million passengers. Additionally, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje International Airport is set to be built 40-kilometers outside of Pune’s city center. Hyperloop could connect this airport to the city center in minutes and integrate the airport with the city’s public transportation.


Karnataka: Supporting Technology & Innovation Sectors in Bengaluru


As India’s hub for technology and innovation, Karnataka is looking to improve infrastructure and support its growing manufacturing, technology, and scientific research industries. Urban sprawl has had a tremendous impact on the state, particularly in Bengaluru (often known as Bangalore). The city’s 10 million citizens lose 600 million hours due to road congestion where the average vehicle speed creaks along at 11 kilometers per hour. Hyperloop holds the potential to link Bengaluru’s city center, IT hubs on the city’s periphery, and improving connections between fast-growing industrial hubs within the state such as Tumakuru, Hubli-Dharwad, and Hosur. These connections could enable citizens to commute ten times farther in the same amount of time.


Hyperloop can speed passenger and cargo transport in the region including, particularly between Bengaluru and Chennai. Passenger demand between the two cities is expected to grow from 8 million trips per year to 135 million by 2035. Seven out of ten of those trips are for business. Cargo demand between the two cities is set to increase from 10.5 million tons per year to 65 million tons in the same time frame, 90 percent moved via roads. Hyperloop could connect the two cities as well as cities in between creating an economic megaregion. Freight can speed from the port in Chennai to inland terminals, enabling on-demand shipments in minutes vs. hours or even days.


Constructing hyperloops would have a direct impact on the local economy. While Hyperloop One builds the core technology at the heart of the hyperloop, the company would rely on a broader Indian-based ecosystem of partners to build, operate, and maintain the systems.


“Investments in Hyperloop One systems will create local jobs in construction, manufacturing, research and development, and services and can have a profound secondary impact on wider industries in India. It is is a win-win,” continued Earle. “As the only company in the world that has built and tested a full-scale, full-system hyperloop we believe we are an ideal partner for India.


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FAQ

  • Q. What is Virgin Hyperloop?

    We're a privately-held company on a mission to create fast, effortless journeys that expand possibilities and eliminate the barriers of distance and time.

  • Q. Why are you building a hyperloop?

    There are too many people caught bumper-to-bumper in traffic, who have to make a hard choice with their family on where to live and work, and who are limited in their access to experiences and opportunities. We're building a system that will give back time and deliver the travel experience of the future.

  • Q. Why do we need hyperloop now?

    The number of cars is set to double worldwide by 2040, same with air and trucking. We are already dealing with the effects of pollution, lack of access, and congestion. If we only invest in the same technologies we’ve had for more than a century, tomorrow will look like today, only much worse. It’s been over a century since the Wright Brothers first showed us human flight was possible. It’s time for a new era in transportation capable of carrying us forward for the next 100 years.

  • Q. How much funding has Virgin Hyperloop received?

    To date, we have received over $400 million.

  • Q. Who are the key investors in Virgin Hyperloop?

    A major investor of ours is DP World, a leading enabler of global trade who sees the potential of sustainable hyperloop-enabled cargo systems. Additionally, we are backed by the Virgin Group, an industry leader across rail, aviation, ships, and even spacecrafts. For more on our investors, visit the company page.

  • Q. Does Virgin Hyperloop have any partners?

    Virgin Hyperloop One is the only hyperloop company that has a strategic partnership with a mass transportation company, the Virgin Group, an industry leader across rail, aviation, ships, and even spacecrafts. Another key partner of ours is DP World, a leading enabler of global trade who sees the potential of sustainable hyperloop-enabled cargo systems. Other industry-leading partners include KPMG, Foster + Partners, Systra, BIG, SNCF, GE, Deutsche Bahn, Black & Veatch, McKinsey, Deloitte, Jacobs, Turner & Townsend, ARUP, and Steer, among others.

  • Q. Is Elon Musk an investor or affiliated with Virgin Hyperloop?

    No, there’s no connection with Elon Musk.

  • Q. How do you plan to scale up operations around the world?

    We aren't just building a hyperloop; we're building a network of public and private partners to scale an integrated supply chain ecosystem. Our business model is based on partnerships that create local jobs and opportunities for those who choose to invest in this technology. We are working at the highest level of governments around the globe to put in place commercial agreements to make hyperloop a reality.

  • Q. What is hyperloop?

    Hyperloop is a new mode of transportation designed to eliminate the barriers of distance and time for both people and freight. It can travel at speeds approaching 700mph, connecting cities like metro stops - and it has zero direct emissions. The journeys can be booked on demand so there’s no wait time or delays.

  • Q. How does hyperloop work?

    With hyperloop, vehicles, called pods, accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. The pod floats along the track using magnetic levitation and glides at airline speeds for long distances due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag.

  • Q. Has hyperloop technology been proven?

    On May 12th, 2017, we made history two minutes after midnight when we successfully launched our vehicle using electromagnetic propulsion and levitation under near-vacuum conditions at our full-scale test site in the Nevada Desert. We've since run hundreds of tests, acquiring validated knowledge that only comes from real-world testing. For more info on DevLoop, our 500 m test track, visit our progress page.

  • Q. How fast can hyperloop go?

    We estimate that the top speed for a passenger vehicle or light cargo will be 670 miles per hour or 1080 kilometers per hour. That is about 3 times faster than high-speed rail and 10-15 times faster than traditional rail. The average speed vehicles travel will vary based on the route and customer requirements.

  • Q. Why keep the tube at low-pressure and not at a perfect vacuum?

    A perfect vacuum would decrease the drag on the vehicle even more, but not significantly. We have already gotten rid of 99.9% of the air in the tube. Lower levels of vacuum than this are important if you are performing scientific experiments, but the cost would not be worthwhile.

  • Q. How is hyperloop different from high-speed trains?

    Hyperloop is an entirely new mode - think the best of trains, planes, and the metro. Hyperloop is on-demand, offering flexible travel schedules with no stops, no transfers, and no weather delays – all at speeds about 3 times faster than high-speed-rail and less cost. Hyperloop is highly efficient, with a smaller environmental impact than high-speed rail because the closed system can be tunneled below or elevated above ground, avoiding dangerous at-grade crossings. The VHO system is 100% electric and can reach higher speeds than high-speed rail for less energy due to our proprietary electric motor and low-drag environment.

  • Q. Is hyperloop safe?

    Fast, effortless journeys go hand-in-hand with journeys where everything works reliably without interference, and where all passengers feel comfortable and safe. The Virgin Hyperloop is designed to be inherently safer than other modes, with multiple redundancies in place. Our system operates autonomously in an enclosed tube and is not susceptible to weather delays, accidents from at-grade crossings, human error, or power outages. Our proprietary high-speed switching architecture eliminates unsafe track configurations and moving trackside parts, a failure point of traditional rail with mechanical switches.

  • Q. How do you plan to get hyperloop certified?

    As new mode, we have to prove our safety case to regulators and work with them to develop a regulatory framework, so passengers can ride the hyperloop in years not decades. We are encouraged by the support we are seeing at the local and federal level around the world to support hyperloop certification based on the fundamentals of safe operating that are already standard practice. In March 2019, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, created the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council to explore the regulation and permitting of hyperloop technology to bring this new form of mass transportation to the United States. This Council is an important step forward in recognizing hyperloop is a new transportation mode and that we need to shift our mindset and acknowledge that this technology does not fit into a regulatory structure that is over 100 years old. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DGMOVE) has also been leading discussions with hyperloop companies to advance regulatory standards and, in India, the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA), Prof. Vijayraghavan, has set up an independent committee called the Consultative Group on Future of Transportation (CGFT) to explore the regulatory path for hyperloop. For more, visit our regulatory progress pages.

  • Q. What will it feel like to ride hyperloop?

    While flying through a tube at more than 1000km/h might seem like a thrill ride, the truth is we are able to mitigate any uncomfortable acceleration forces within our controlled environment. The journey will be so smooth, you could sip a coffee the whole time without spilling a single drop. Normal acceleration and deceleration of 0.20 Gs will feel similar to a train. As a comparison, flooring a typical sedan gives between 0.4-0.5 Gs and commercial airplanes see 0.3-0.5Gs depending on the plane and load.

  • Q. What happens if there's a sudden breach in the tube?

    Pods will continue to travel safely to the next portal even with a large breach. Our response to a breach would be to intentionally repressurize the tube with small valves places along the route length while engaging pod brakes to safely bringing all pods to rest before it is deemed safe to continue to the next portal. A sustained leak could impact performance (speed) but would not pose a safety issue due to vehicle and system architectural design choices. This assessment is based in solid understanding and analysis of the complex vehicle load behaviors during such an event.

  • Q. Is hyperloop sustainable?

    Without a massive leap forward, pollution from the transportation industry is expected to almost double by 2050 - well above the carbon budget. By combining an ultra-efficient electric motor, magnetic levitation, and a low-drag environment, the VHO system can reach airline speeds for 5-10x less energy (depends on route length) and can go faster than high-speed rail using less energy. In regions like the Middle East, we could power the system completely by solar panels which cover the tube. As fighting against climate change becomes an existential issue for cities across the globe, hyperloop will create a new, shared, electric mobility model for helping to permanently reform an industry with some of the world’s highest carbon emissions.

  • Q. How much energy does hyperloop use?

    We are designing Virgin Hyperloop to be more efficient than other modes of transportation. Modern jetliners use up to 10 times the energy we use per passenger-mile over the entire journey. We can cruise at 500 miles per hour for less energy (per passenger) than an electric car doing 60 miles per hour. At peak speed, the VHO system consumes approximately 75 watt hours per passenger kilometer (Wh/pax-km). To put this in perspective, the fastest conventional maglev train travels at about half our speed and consumes 33% more energy.

  • Q. Where will hyperloop get its power?

    Our system is 100% electric with zero direct emissions. We're energy-agnostic. Our system can draw power from whichever energy sources are available along the route and support a transition to a renewable energy-powered future. In regions like the Middle East, we can completely power the system with solar panels which cover the tube.

  • Q. How much noise does hyperloop make?

    It’s similar those new electric vehicles that are so quiet they need to create noise to indicate movement. With hyperloop, we eliminate sources of mechanical noise, like wheels on track, and we actually have a sound barrier inherent in our tube design

  • Q. Can hyperloop be used for cargo?

    DP World Cargospeed is a global brand for hyperloop-enabled cargo systems operated by DP World and enabled by Virgin Hyperloop technology. These systems will deliver freight at the speed of flight and closer to the cost of trucking for fast, sustainable, and efficient delivery of palletized cargo.

  • Q. What type of cargo would a hyperloop system transport?

    The focus would be on high-priority, on-demand goods – fresh food, medical supplies, electronics, and more.

  • Q. How can hyperloop help transform logistics?

    With DP World Cargospeed, deliveries can be completed in hours versus days with greater reliability and fewer delays. It will expand freight transportation capacity by connecting with existing modes of road, rail, ports, and air transport, and will provide greater connectivity with manufacturing parks, economic zones, distribution centers, and regional urban centers. This can shrink inventory lead times, help reduce finished goods inventory, and cut required warehouse space and cost by 25%. DP World Cargospeed networks can also enable just-in-time, agile manufacturing practices.

  • Q. Will the first hyperloops be passenger or cargo systems?

    The Virgin Hyperloop is unique in that it doesn’t need to be passenger-only or cargo-only. We are designing a mixed-use system that fully utilizes system capacity while maximizing economic and social benefits. However, it is possible to run cargo commercial operations while certification and regulation are still ongoing for passenger use.

  • Q. When will hyperloop systems be ready for cargo and passengers?

    We are working with the most visionary governments around the world to make sure you can ride the hyperloop in years, not decades. Our goal is to have operational systems in the late 2020s. Our ability to meet that goal will depend on how fast the regulatory and statutory processes move.

  • Q. Where will the first hyperloop get built?

    We are working with visionary governments and partners around the world to make hyperloop a reality today. To learn more about our projects around the world, visit our progress page.

  • Q. How much will hyperloop cost to build and operate?

    Capital and operating costs will range widely based on the route. We recently released a study that showed our linear costs are 60-70% that of high-speed rail projects. In addition, we expect the operational costs to be significantly lower than existing forms of transportation.

  • Q. How much will hyperloop cost to ride?

    It’s simple – if it’s not affordable, people won't use it. We are looking to build something that will expand opportunities for the masses, so they can live in one city with their family and work in another. Currently, that kind of high-speed transport is not feasible for most people. The exact ticket price will vary for each route, but a recent study showed that riding a hyperloop in Missouri could cost less than the gas needed to drive.

  • Q. How are hyperloop routes selected?

    We are in the business of serving local needs, not the other way around. Public and private support is key. In some cases, we will respond to solicited bids with partners when we feel the technology matches the project’s objectives. In other cases, we will make an unsolicited bid for a project when we see that hyperloop could offer a unique solution to market needs.

  • Q. What is the process for getting a passenger route up and running?

    While the technology is different, the process for building a hyperloop is similar to that of building a highway, railway, or any other type of linear infrastructure. The first stage is project development. This phase includes feasibility studies, and then more detailed engineering reports and environmental impact studies. Once a project is approved to move forward, a consortium is formed to finance and deliver on the project.

  • Q. How much land does hyperloop require?

    Many infrastructure projects succeed or fail based on right-of-way issues. We are designing a system that requires only about half the right-of-way as high-speed rail and can more easily adapt to existing right-of-ways. At high speeds, the VHO system has a 4.5 times tighter turn radius compared to high-speed rail and can climb grades that are 6 times steeper, reducing the disturbance at crossings. Portals will be purposely integrated into and support existing communities and landscapes. Low noise levels will expand opportunities to build hyperloops closer to the city center.

  • Q. With the focus on connecting cities, how will hyperloop support rural communities?

    Hyperloop also holds enormous promise for rural communities. Virgin Hyperloop systems can be built below or above ground, which means no one’s farm needs to be cut in half. Our system enables rural areas to retain residents, who can now have more access to urban job centers, educational opportunities, and health care facilities. Additionally, hyperloop could enable freight distribution centers to be placed in rural areas, leading to job growth and industrial clusters. After a system is built, there is the opportunity to add additional on and off-ramps, supporting a greater number of people along the route.

  • Q. How will hyperloop projects be financed?

    Transportation infrastructure has traditionally relied on extensive government funding. This is because the benefits of clean, safe, and efficient transportation are enjoyed by the entire community, not just the user buying a ticket. However, most existing mass transportation modes are unprofitable and hindered by existing infrastructure built in the past century or by legacy systems. We want to change that and are focused on public-private partnerships. By developing a new mode of transportation from scratch, we're able to leverage technological developments that have occurred in the last century, especially the IT revolution. We're able to keep maintenance costs low, energy efficiency high, and transport tens of thousands of passengers per hour. This keeps margins and accessibility high, contributing to more financially attractive returns than if the corridor was served by existing modes. These benefits aren’t just hypothetical. While this is an exceptional case due to high demand, a third-party evaluation found that our Mumbai-Pune Hyperloop Project could be funded 100% by private capital. In the U.S. we see enormous potential to attract investment from the private sector, leveraging public investments. Involving government stakeholders as well as potential private investors early in the project development process is critical.

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