Boost for Mumbai-Pune Hyperloop project

State officials appear positive but experts warn that this is yet unproven technology

 

Ritu Jha

 

 

A plan to have high-speed transportation between Mumbai and Pune in India got a fillip when Devendra Fadnavis, the chief minister of Maharashtra, the state these expanding cities are in, visited the Hyperloop test site in Las Vegas, Nevada, last week. Yet, experts worry that people may be too cautious to get on board.

 

Fadnavis, and representatives from the state government, including the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA), who saw the Hyperloop One, sounded positive as the project went to the second half of a feasibility study.

According to company’s website, Hyperloop One is considered the world’s most revolutionary train. At present, the total ‘DevLoop’ tube length is 500 metres and the tube’s diameter is 3.3 metres.

During phase two of testing, the duration of the longest test has been 10.6 seconds, with the top speed of 192mph (310kmh) – or 86 metres per second. The maximum distance traveled is 436 meters, with a peak acceleration of 1.48 Gs – equal to 0 to 60mph in 1.85 seconds.

 

The Pune-Mumbai route is intended to transport 150 million passenger trips per year and help India boost its economic competitiveness through high-speed transportation and job creation.

 

“This was a very fruitful discussion and we should be able to start moving on this project very fast,” Fadnavis said.

 

It was in February that Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group and chair of Virgin Hyperloop One, signed an MoU with the Maharashtra government. He then said the Hyperloop One could have the same impact on India in the 21st century as trains did in the 20th century.

 

“The opportunity is enormous – to connect 26 million people with access to affordable infrastructure that will unlock significant economic and social value,” Branson said. The 100 percent electric, efficient hyperloop system is intended to ease severe expressway congestion and could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 150,000 tons annually.

 

According to the company, tests in Nevada have dealt with speeds reaching 240 miles an hour, and there are plans for three production systems to be in service by 2021.

 

A pre-feasibility study completed by Virgin Hyperloop One claimed that the Pune-Mumbai project could also result in USD $55 billion in socio-economic benefits (time savings, emissions and accident reduction, operational cost savings, etc.) over 30 years of operation, according to.

 

The company says the system could also quickly move freight and light cargo from Mumbai port to Pune.

 

In its press release, Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd said,“Traditionally, transportation has been very vertically integrated. With a wealth of talent and technological prowess right here in India, we’re looking for local partners to scale an integrated supply chain ecosystem… “The State of Maharashtra is positioning itself at the epicenter of a new global supply chain.”

 

But Daniel Sperling, founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, and professor of civil and environmental engineering, asked indica “Will customers accept being in a closed tube? It’s a new technology. Who knows what could go wrong.”,

Vivek Wadhwa, a technology expert, told indica, “No, this is not as easy as it sounds.”

“There are no Hyperloops in operation yet– anywhere in the world,” he said, sharing concerns about safety.

“It is one thing for rich governments such as the UAE to take these risks and another for Indian taxpayers to do so. The best policy for India is to focus on electric cars and solar. These are proven technologies and will have the greatest possible impact,” said Wadhwa, adding, “When Hyperloops work reliably in the West, they [other governments] can have their ego-boosting toys.”

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