New Delhi: AECOM India Pvt. Ltd, one of the winners of the Hyperloop One global challenge, expects the fare for a 334km Bengaluru-Chennai trip in a hyperloop high-speed transport system to be around Rs2,000.

AECOM claims it will take just 3-5 years for India to set up its first project once the technology is accepted.

Hyperloop is an experimental transportation mode that will move freight and people at a speed of around 1,000-1,200 km/hour and involves moving magnetically levitated pod-like vehicles through a low-pressure or vacuum tube.

AECOM is one of two teams from India to win the Hyperloop One global challenge in September. The over-a-year-long challenge identified new routes to be developed, using hyperloop technology. While AECOM India won the Bengaluru-Chennai route, Hyperloop India bagged the 1,102km Mumbai-Chennai route.

“It will reinvent the transportation business and systems worldwide," said AECOM India senior vice-president G.V.R. Raju, who led the five-member team to the Hyperloop One challenge final.

According to Raju, a transportation system that is better then air travel at a fare of Rs2,000 is a compelling proposition.

“We have no doubt about its viability," he said, pointing out that people pay anywhere between Rs3,500 and Rs10,000 for an air trip from Bengaluru to Chennai now.

It will cater more to the middle class than the masses, he added.

The company chose the route keeping in mind the industrial growth in Chennai and Bengaluru in the last two decades. A lot of industrial clusters are coming up along the Bengaluru-Chennai corridor, which will provide enough traffic for hyperloop to work. Besides, the route doesn’t have a rough terrain, making it easy to put up the infrastructure.

On the question of costs, Raju said in the beginning one may need to pay intellectual property charges as it’s a new technology but once there is wide acceptance, it will be cheaper than a high-speed rail link. The company is already in talks with investors, including some automobile companies manufacturing electric vehicles in India, for a potential partnership. “At the moment, the investors are watching for the first project to come up," he added.

AECOM India has discussed the project with the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and the feedback has been enthusiastic, Raju said.

Bringing hyperloop technology to India will face two principal challenges: The first is legislative, as the transportation system does not fall in either air, rail or road categories covered by existing laws. Second, it will need high initial investments and will be viable only on routes where people have purchasing power.

Last year, Hyperloop One, a Los Angeles-based start-up, secured a $50 million investment from the world’s third largest port and terminal operator DP World Ltd to conduct a feasibility study for transporting cargo for a distance of around 50km through an underwater channel. The company plans to conduct a second trial of its technology at its testing facility in Nevada in the US this month.

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