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Hyperloop is a travel system that uses pods vehicle travelling at high speed through low-pressure tubes erected on columns or tunneled underground using magnetic levitation. (Reuters)
Hyperloop is a travel system that uses pods vehicle travelling at high speed through low-pressure tubes erected on columns or tunneled underground using magnetic levitation. (Reuters)

Centre to weigh commercial viability of hyperloop travel system

  • A committee of officers will study the safety standards, regulations as well as the cost involved in Hyperloop compared to other forms of transport
  • Hyperloop can cut down the travel time between the two cities to less than 30 minutes, compared to over three hours taken to cover the same distance

NEW DELHI: The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is weighing the commercial viability of Hyperloop as a travel system in the country. This is being done in a bid to transform India’s public transportation system and roll out new-age transport technology. t

Over the next six months, a committee of officers will study the safety standards, regulations as well as the cost involved as compared with other forms of transport system such as metro, said a government official aware of the development.

Hyperloop is a travel system that uses pods or vehicles travelling at high speed through low-pressure tubes erected on columns or tunneled underground using magnetic levitation. It is based on an idea mooted by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.

“We need to see how competent and safe this technology is. We would need separate regulations for such a transport system. Apart from these, we need to cautiously assess the likelihood of people choosing such a transport system, the cost as compared to metro or a bus, among other things," the official told Mint. The panel comprises officials from road transport, railways, urban development ministry, government’s policy think tank NITI Aayog as well as officials from Maharashtra.

The Maharashtra government had approved Virgin Hyperloop One-led consortium’s plans to develop a high-speed line between Mumbai and Pune two years ago. A hyperloop transportation system can cut down the travel time between the two cities to less than 30 minutes, compared to over three hours taken to cover the same distance. Earlier this month, Virgin Hyperloop had ‘successfully’ completed the first-ever human trial in the hyperloop pod at the DevLoop test facility in America.

The company had first approached India for the implementation of the hyperloop transport system in the country four years ago.

However, experts warned that rolling out could be complex, and a lot needs to be done in terms of a thorough study of safety regulations and cost benefit analysis is crucial. Besides, categorizing the type of transportation is imperative as currently, it doesn’t fit into the definition of any conventional mode of transport.

“Hyperloop will require a different set of regulations. Since it is a new technology, the regulations must be such that they can be easily implemented and adopted. Apart from strict safety norms, relevant certifications to authorize running of such a new-age transport system would be required," Kushal Singh, partner at Deloitte said.

“Above all, a cost benefit analysis needs to be undertaken along with the assessment of the impact of hyperloop on the existing modes of transportation, such as railways, bus, and metro," he added.

A Virgin Hyperloop said official said that the company is in close dialogue with Maharashtra for the project. “We also are extremely pleased and fully endorse the move by NITI Aayog to set up a committee chaired by VK Saraswat to review Hyperloop technology including the state of Maharashtra that has been at the forefront of introducing this technology to India. Virgin Hyperloop remains fully committed to introducing this technology to India and the state of Maharashtra," Harj Dhaliwal, managing director (Middle East and India) Virgin Hyperloop said.

Other than Maharashtra, Virgin Hyperloop has already announced a partnership with Bangalore International Airport Ltd to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed hyperloop corridor from Bengaluru airport and had last year inked a pact with the Punjab transport department.

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