Earlier this week, Virgin Hyperloop One announced an ambitious, 25-minute Hyperloop sector between Mumbai and Pune. The futuristic mode of transportation, backed by the likes of Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk, has been hailed as a medium that can potentially change lifestyles, be a significant answer to congested roads, and be a crucial peg of development for smart cities. The company has further announced investment of Rs. 3,000 crore to build a test track that will act as a precursor to the eventual Mumbai-Pune route. While the entire process will presumably take a really long time to develop, the announcement has raised excitement around the possibility of Hyperloop connecting two major cities.
Here, we try to break down all the details of this new development around Hyperloop. Here's everything that you need to know about Virgin Hyperloop One, and its plans for the Mumbai-Pune sector:
- A delegation from India, comprising Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Kiran Gitte, Metropolitan Commissioner of Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) is presently visiting Virgin Hyperloop One's test track in Nevada, USA. The Indian delegation has held talks with Rob Lloyd, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One, discussing the possibility of bringing Hyperloop to India.
- Earlier this year, in February, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson spoke about his interest in building a Hyperloop route here in India. Previously, potential first Hyperloop routes globally were earmarked to be established in Los Angeles or Dubai.
- Now, following the talks being held with the Maharashtra government, Virgin Hyperloop One has expressed interest in the project. The route being proposed is the busy intercity sector between Mumbai and Pune, which is traversed by many on a daily basis and takes almost four hours to cover, via either rail or road. There are select operators that also operate flights between the two cities, but that is not particularly practical since the total travel time, including airport commutes and security clearances, adds up to quite long.
- As per proposal, Virgin Hyperloop One will be sanctioned by the Maharashtra government to build a Hyperloop track that connects the Mumbai area with Pune. This 200-odd kilometres-long stretch between the two cities can then be traversed in just 25 minutes.
- While the Hyperloop route will be for intercity commuting, the Mumbai government is also planning to link it to its upcoming intracity metro corridors. This, as the MMRDA hopes, will help facilitate seamless commutes from anywhere in Mumbai to anywhere in Pune.
- For this, Virgin Hyperloop One will reportedly be sending a team of engineers to Pune, to explore the feasibility behind this move.
- Before the project is sanctioned and work begins, the company will build a test track to show the potential that Hyperloop brings to the table. For this, the company will require initial sanctions, and investments to procure land, import technologies and infrastructure. As per reports, Virgin Hyperloop One will invest Rs. 3,000 crore behind building the test track.
- As Gitte has mentioned, the PMRDA has already identified a 15-kilometres-long stretch between Balewadi and Gahunje, both in the Pune district, as the ideal place to establish the initial test track.
- Before this, however, the team of engineers from Virgin Hyperloop One will submit a feasibility report and a Detailed Project Report (DPR) to the Maharashtra government. The reports are expected to be submitted some time in August this year.
- In Mumbai, the Hyperloop route is expected to terminate in the business area of Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC).
- The BKC area is a prime business district in Mumbai, and is fairly central to the city. It is also the point through which the Mumbai suburban metro railway's Track 3 lies, and even the proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train is expected to originate from here. An underground terminus for the bullet train has been proposed, which is expected to be in line with international standards and present lifestyle areas like food courts, shopping malls and more.
- Potential plans for this terminus also involves merging the intracity metro line and the Hyperloop terminals into this one terminus, which can then serve as a major transportation hub for intracity and short-range intercity routes. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Mumbai-Pune sectors are among the most-travelled everyday routes for people residing outside Mumbai but travelling for jobs.
- Reports state that nearly 70 percent of materials required for establishing the Hyperloop route can be sourced from within Maharashtra itself. If everything goes according to plan, construction for the test track is expected to commence some time in 2019.
- Once Hyperloop becomes operational, it is expected to significantly relax congestion and reduce by 1,50,000 tons, every year.
- The Hyperloop project, however, is a very long term one. At present, an estimated year of completion is slated for 2034, although delays are certainly expected down the line.
- Once complete, the Hyperloop route between Mumbai and Pune is reported to be capable of ferrying 5,000 passengers between the two cities, every day. At present, PMRDA estimates indicate an approximate 3,00,000 passengers commuting between Mumbai and Pune everyday.
For more technical insights into Hyperloop, its potential and a technical analysis of its economic viability, click here.