Richard Branson-Backed Firm Plans World’s First Operational Hyperloop In Mumbai

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Travelers between Mumbai and Pune may soon get rid of their traffic worries, as British business tycoon Richard Branson plans to develop the world’s first operational hyperloop on the route by 2025.

Branson’s investee company Virgin Hyperloop One has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Maharashtra government to develop and construct a Hyperloop between Mumbai and Pune, reducing the travel time to cover the 140-km distance between Mumbai and Pune to 14-25 minutes, from 3-4 hours at present.

India may be the first country to have an operational Hyperloop, he said in an interaction with a select group of journalists on the sidelines of Magnetic Maharashtra Global Business Summit in Mumbai.

Hyperloop is a proposed system of transport that would see pods or containers travel at high speeds through a tube that has been pumped into a near-vacuum. 

Speaking on the need for such a system, Branson said: “ I have sat in the Indian traffic every time I have come here. It’s not a pleasant experience. And if I were an Indian a lot of my life would be spend sitting in traffic jams.”

The company will take three years to construct a test track. This test track will also be part of the production track. Commercial operations will start in six to seven years, said Branson.

"In the last few years, the rail network (in India) has been opened up. Once we get one route up and running, every city in India would be wanting Virgin Hyperloop One." - Richard Branson, Executive Chairman, Virgin Hyperloop One

Virgin Hyperloop One began its preliminary feasibility in November. In the next six months, it will undertake detailed assessment of environment and engineering requirement before closing the project financing structure, Rob Llyod, chief executive officer of Virgin Hyperloop One, told BloombergQuint.

The 30 minutes route between Las Vegas and Los Angeles is displayed on the Virgin Hyperloop One application at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. (Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)

Also Read: Mumbai To Pune In 14 Minutes? Branson-Backed Hyperloop Firm Thinks It’s Possible

“The company hopes to transport 10,000 people per hour in two-way traffic. Our break-even is lower than this, said Llyod. The fare pricing will be comparable to any alternate mode of transportation currently,” Llyod added.

On acquiring land for the project, Branson said the company won’t be requiring the right of way since the hyperloop will be along the Mumbai-Pune expressway as much as possible.

The route is one of the most profitable route ever, said Llyod. The entire project will be privately funded. “We may look at investors for this project and offer them other route projects as we take up,” Branson added.

It will have two sources of revenues passenger traffic and light cargo. The company hopes to substitute a large part of 120 million cars that travel between Mumbai and Pune annually, said Branson.

In addition to Mumbai, Virgin Hyperloop One is in discussion with Andhra Pradesh government for its new capital city and with Karnataka state government, Branson said.

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