Monday, 19 March, 2018

Billionaire Richard Branson unveils Hyperloop plans for India

Sir Richard Branson At Talent Unleashed Awards 2015 Hyperloop is coming to India
Nellie Chapman | 19 February, 2018, 10:56

British business tycoon Richard Branson's company Virgin Hyperloop One has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Maharashtra government to build a hyperloop transit system between Mumbai and Pune by 2025, BloombergQuint reported. Sir Richard Branson making the announcement at the Magnetic Maharashtra summit. Branson said the Pune-Mumbai route could result in Rs 3,50,000 crores in socio-economic benefits, time saving, accident reduction and operational cost savings on over 30 years of operation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis laid the foundation stone for the hyperloop route at the global summit Magnetic Maharashtra on Sunday.

According to Hyperloop One, the Pune-Mumbai project will begin with a six-month in-depth feasibility study to analyse and define route alignments, including environmental impact, economic and commercial aspects and regulatory framework, besides cost and funding model recommendations.

The hyperloop transportation between central Pune and Navi Mumbai Airport is expected to carry 150 million passengers every year.

VHO CEO Rob Lloyd said, "We have always believed that India would be a tremendous market for the hyperloop".

Branson is touting the tube-based transportation system-first theorized in 2013 by billionaire Elon Musk-to help address the infrastructure bottlenecks India is struggling with amid rapid urbanization.

The hyperloop, a fully electrical system with a capacity to travel at a speed of 1,000 km per hour, aims to reduce the travel time between the two mega cities to 25 minutes from the three hours at present.

To put in the context the benefits of the hyperloop, it can be noted that almost 120 Mn vehicles ply between Mumbai and Pune annually, and additionally about 25% of the cargo imported into Mumbai port move towards Pune.

The Virgin Hyperloop has a capability of going at an average speed of 350 km per hour, which can be stretched to 600-1000 km per hour with further development in infrastructure. The 100 per cent electric, efficient system will also ease severe expressway congestion and could reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 86,000 tons over 30 years.

"We are not pricing this for the wealthy, but it will be for the masses. This has a potential to change the economic status of this state, you could employed in Pune and live in Mumbai or vice versa".

"Preliminary study showed that Mumbai-Pune was one of the most economically viable route we have ever studied".

The project will enter a procurement stage upon the successful completion of the feasibility study to determine the public-private partnership structure. "It will be an economic catalyst for the region and create tens of thousands of jobs for India's world-class manufacturing, construction, services and IT sectors, and aligns with Make in India initiatives". The technology is not yet commercially operational anywhere in the world. There have been global challenges in transportation due to over population over the last few years that attracted many developers and engineers from across the globe to plan newer routes for different cities.