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Hyperloop Predicts Service by 2027

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

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Co-founder and Chief Executive Josh Giegel of American transport tech company Virgin Hyperloop recently announced that commercial operations could happen as early as 2027.

“It starts off with two people riding a Hyperloop. It ends with hundreds of millions of people riding on a Hyperloop and that's what the 2020s, the roaring '20s will be,” Giegel said.

About Virgin Hyperloop

Since the reveal of the hyperloop concept was presented by Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, Paypal and SpaceX, the race for creating the high-speed transit was on. The transportation system makes use of a depressurized cylinder made up of a series of steel tubes through which levitating cylindrical passenger (or freight) pods travel at high speeds on a cushion of air.

In 2016, Bjarke Ingels Group unveiled a sneak-peak of what would be the Hyperloop One (now known as Virgin Hyperloop One) system, connecting Dubai to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. This project was slated to be complete in 2020.

While hyperloop competitor Hyperloop Transportation Technologies would announce its own endeavors throughout the years, in the summer of 2018 Virgin Hyperloop announced that it had entered into a partnership with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission to study the options of building a hyperloop connecting Pittsburgh, Columbus and Chicago.

In 2019, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission approved a $2 million contract with Los Angeles-based engineering and construction firm AECOM for a hyperloop study on the potential project.

Completed in May of this year, the study revealed that in 30-years-time the hyperloop connecting the three cities would create $300 billion in overall economic benefits and would reduce CO2 emissions by 2.4 million tons.

According to a press release by Virgin Hyperloop One at the time, the feasibility study covering technical and commercial issues was confirmed through analyzing route alignments, comparative costs, engineering complexity, public right of ways, environmental constraints, ridership volumes and travel behavior.

Virgin Hyperloop

Co-founder and Chief Executive Josh Giegel of American transport tech company Virgin Hyperloop recently announced that commercial operations could happen as early as 2027.

In looking at the project from a third-party analysis, AECOM found that the hyperloop would connect Chicago and Columbus in under 45 minutes with an estimated ticket cost of $60 and Columbus to Pittsburgh in under 30 minutes with an estimated ticket cost of $33.

Additionally, in 2019, Virgin Hyperloop was named as one of the original project proponents for the development of another hyperloop public infrastructure project in western India. Virgin, working in collaboration with global ports owner DP World, was chosen to spearhead the project. Both Mumbai and Pune, which are roughly 100 miles apart and would be connected by the project.

Currently, Virgin Hyperloop is the only company in the world that has successfully tested hyperloop technology at scale, launching the first new mode of mass transportation in over 100 years.

In October 2020, Virgin Hyperloop announced that it would be opening a Hyperloop Certification Center in West Virginia. The HCC project builds off of the current progress being made on the regulatory front in the U.S. In July, the Secretary of the U.S. Department or Transportation, Elaine Chao and the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council unveiled a guidance document, outlining a regulatory framework for hyperloop in America.

The historic announcement not only provides a pathway for hyperloop regulation and deployment in the U.S., but also establishes hyperloop’s eligibility for federal funding for projects. According to Virgin, the federal momentum, paired with the advancements of the HCC, will pave the way for the certification of hyperloop systems and are the first steps towards commercial projects.

Slated to be built on an 800-acre site spanning Tucker and Grant counties, the $500 million certification center will include a welcome center, testing facilities, a training center on operations, maintenance and safety, a manufacturing facility, and six-mile-long certification track. Danish architectural firm, Bjarke Ingels Group has been selected to design the HCC.

Construction of the center, which is partnered with WVU, Marshall University and others, is expected to begin in 2021. Virgin Hyperloop aims to achieve safety certification by 2025, with commercial operations beginning in 2030. The nascent technology is expected to run at 600 miles per hour or faster.

WVU's Bureau of Business and Economic Research predicts the center will have an economic impact of $48 million annually.

Hyperloop Benchmarks

In November of last year, Virgin Hyperloop announced that it had successfully completed its first trial involving human passengers in its levitating hyperloop capsules.

Josh Giegel, CTO and co-founder of Virgin Hyperloop, and Sara Luchian, Virgin Hyperloop's Director of Passenger Experience, were the two passengers to ride the new form of transportation at the company’s DevLoop site in the barren desert, located about 35 miles north of Las Vegas.

The track is a 500-meter-long (roughly 1,640-foot-long) concrete tube.

According to reports, the test was conducted using a new two-seated XP-2 vehicle—nicknamed Pegasus—built specifically for testing safe passenger travel within the hyperloop pod. The new design was created in a collaboration involving Bjarke Ingels Group and Danish studio Kilo Design and features several wheels that retract as the magnetic levitation comes into force to avoid any drag.

Once Giegel and Luchian were strapped in, an airlock system was used to move the vehicle in and out of the semi-vacuum environment. In launching the duo, the XP-2 vehicle was propelled electromagnetically through the tunnel at speeds reaching up to 107 miles per hour. In total, the maiden voyage was reported to have lasted only 15 seconds.

After the system has been full realized, the singular capsule used for the journey will be redesigned to seat up to 28 passengers and is expected to reach speeds of up to 760 mph with a longer track.

A month prior to the test, Virgin announced that after years of testing and developing hyperloop technology at its full-scale test site in North Las Vegas, it would be building its Hyperloop Certification Center in West Virginia.

According to a press release issued by Virgin Hyperloop, the HCC project builds off of the current progress being made on the regulatory front in the U.S. In July, the Secretary of the U.S. Department or Transportation, Elaine Chao and the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council unveiled a guidance document, outlining a regulatory framework for hyperloop in America.

In deciding where the HCC would be built—having considered 17 other states—Virgin selected West Virginia, where the planned facility received bicameral and bipartisan support at all levels of the government, at the local, state and federal level, including from Gov. Jim Justice, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), Rep. Carol Miller (R-West Virginia), Rep. Alex Mooney (R-West Virginia), and Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-West Virginia).

The historic announcement not only provides a pathway for hyperloop regulation and deployment in the U.S., but also establishes hyperloop’s eligibility for federal funding for projects. According to Virgin, the federal momentum, paired with the advancements of the HCC, will pave the way for the certification of hyperloop systems and are the first steps towards commercial projects.

In the company release, Virgin reports that not only will the HCC progress the industry in regulatory and commercial fronts, it also plans to create an entirely new ecosystem and will create thousands of new jobs across construction, manufacturing, operations and high-tech sectors.

Slated to be built on an 800-acre site spanning Tucker and Grant counties, the $500 million certification center will include a welcome center, testing facilities, a training center on operations, maintenance and safety, a manufacturing facility, and six-mile-long certification track. Danish architectural firm, Bjarke Ingels Group has been selected to design the HCC.

Construction of the center, which is partnered with WVU, Marshall University and others, is expected to begin sometime this year. Virgin Hyperloop aims to achieve safety certification by 2025, with commercial operations beginning in 2030. The nascent technology is expected to run at 600 miles per hour or faster.

WVU's Bureau of Business and Economic Research predicts the center will have an economic impact of $48 million annually.

In January,  the United States Department of Transportation released the “Hyperloop Standards Desk Review,” which plans to aid policymakers in better understanding standards and regulations in relation to hyperloop technologies.

Transportation Service Goals

Although still in its early stages, Giegel predicts that the new form of transportation could be up and running by 2027. The development has been described as the first revolution in transportation in 100 years, just as cars, trains and planes have in the past.

Aspects of the high-speed loop that are still in finalization are the required batteries, power electronics and additional sensors.

“We’re at like the very bleeding edge of what a high-speed autonomous battery-powered vehicle is,” Giegel told reporters.

Once completed, Virgin Hyperloop is looking to first develop passenger routes in India, where the transport system is overloaded and in Saudi Arabia, which has been noted to lack proper infrastructure.

Later this year, Virgin Hyperloop plans to put one of its pods on display at the Smithsonian Historic Arts and Industries Museum’s “FUTURES” exhibition in Washington.

“Growing up, I spent family vacations at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, seeing first-hand how engineers could change the world,” said Giegel. “Having the vehicle the Virgin Hyperloop team created on display at the Smithsonian, inspiring the next generation of engineers to think big, is truly a dream come true.”

Visitors will be able to witness the Pagasus vehicle at the FUTURES exhibition from November 2021 through July 2022. It will be free and open to the public.

“Since opening in 1881, the Arts + Industries Building has been an incubator of ideas that, while at the time may have felt unimaginable, have gone on to profoundly impact the ways in which we experience the world around us,” said Rachel Goslins, director of the Arts + Industries Building. “Hyperloop is one of these leaps that signal a transformative shift in how we could live and travel. We invite visitors to discover the Pegasus pod in the very building where Americans first encountered famous steam engines, the Apollo 11 lunar capsule and the Spirit of St. Louis.”

   

Tagged categories: Design build; Hyperloop; Infrastructure; Mass transit; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Public Transit; Technology; Transportation; Virgin Hyperloop

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