Karnataka govt seeks Virgin Hyperloop One feasibility report in six weeks

TUBE TRAVEL: A file picture of journalists and guests look at tubes following a propulsion open-air test at Hyperloop One in Las Vegas, Nevada, US. Photo: Reuters

The Richard Branson-backed Hyperloop One looks to connect Bengaluru with industrial city Tumakuru, the twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad and other places.

Virgin Hyperloop One, a start-up that designed a super high-speed transportation facility, has conducted its first test at a track in America's Nevada desert. Nick Earle, senior vice-president at Virgin Hyperloop One, said India is one of the "most important geographies" for developing such networks. And, that a hyperloop, a concept proposed and backed by noted inventor and magnate Elon Musk, will have "wider economic benefit" than only a cheaper transport mode.

In October, Branson invested in Hyperloop One and joined the board of directors at the start-up. A Hyperloop connectivity, for example, is described as enabling people to reach Chennai from Bengaluru in 23 minutes. Using this technology, 'pods' will move or zip across vacuum tubes at a speed of up to 1,300 km an hour.

On Tuesday, the Karnataka government signed a pact with Virgin Hyperloop One for a feasibility study to find a route for high-speed connectivity in the state, said Priyank Kharge, minister for information technology and science & technology. Another high-speed transportation corridor using hyperloop technology between Mumbai and Pune was proposed by the Maharashtra government last year. The Andhra government signed a similar pact in September, to study its feasibility.

Kharge said the primary study would analyse the applicability and benefits of hyperloop technology, beside identifying key routes within Karnataka. The government has told the company to give the feasibility study report in six weeks. It would like to explore opportunities to link Bengaluru's city centre with the information technology hubs and industrial parks on the periphery, beside improving air travel accessibility by connecting the airport with the city centre. Also, to create freight corridors with surrounding cities, eventually extending to Chennai.

Virgin Hyperloop One will be working with partners in the region and its urban development department would help on the regulatory requirements, besides supplying of data, said the state government.

The company is working on such projects in the UAE, US, Canada, Finland and Netherlands. Analysts, however, note that nothing has been implemented on ground so far.

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