Mumbai-Pune 25-minute Hyperloop ride by 2024 could be a pipe dream
With Virgin Group and Maharashtra government announcing that they had signed a pact 'to build a hyperloop transportation system between Mumbai and Pune, it would mean citizens will get a chance to travel on one of the fastest modes of transport.
Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson claims that if it bears fruit, then it will reduce the travel time between the two cities to 20 minutes from the present three hours. However, the speed rate is not yet known for the route.
Not only this, in September last year, Andhra Pradesh government signed an MoU with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) to study and analyse the cityscapes in order to reduce travelling time between Amravati and Vijayawada.
Hyperloop, a concept created by Elon Musk, aims to reach a speed above the supersonic range - 1200 kmph. The concept is designed in such a way that hyperloop travel in a vaccuum tube and the Hyperloop pod will lift off the track and zoom through the tunnel.
Sounds cool, right? But, there's a hitch.
Starting from scratch
As of now, Hyperloop is nowhere present in the world. Virgin Hyperloop One is currently testing the pod in a desert outside of Las Vegas, US. The final design for it to execute in reality, is not confirmed yet, as well. Also, the firm has achieved 387 kmph as their highest speed as against the theoretical figure.
That said, they have a long way to go. Adding to this, for India to able to comply with the pod's infrastructure, funds, among others, can only be known when the project is executed.
Question of safety
The pilot run by the firm has not been tested with humans travelling the distance. Since the Hyperloop plans to tackle the gravitational forces, commonly known as g-forces, it is required for it to maintain the pressure balance.
Cornell University's Dr Phil Mason explained to the Daily Caller that if at all any individual pod crashes, then there will be a 'cascading failure.' The failure will prompt a pressure wave which will shoot down the tube and destroy all the other pods.
He explained that if there is any rupture or crack in the capsule, it would would expose the passengers to hard vacuum which can cause the passengers 'to die in exactly the same way they would in deep space.'
So, if a terrorist or criminal shoots through the tube and if the tube is not strong enough to withstand it, the travellers will die instantly.
Now that the safety concerns are out in the open, the makers have to make sure that the Hyperloop is immune to such accidents in its highest probability. In that case, the costs and the time to execute the project will take years for it to achieve. If the costs increase, the fare will, by default, increase. Experts have also pointed that heat can destroy the Hyperloop track. If that is the case, then the pod's maintenance will also have to be taken care of on a regular basis, given that most of India comes under the subtropical region.