Future of Ultra-High-Speed Train Travel: Hyperloop Technology

Very soon you’ll be able to travel at an ultra high speed above 1000 km/h in a hyperloop technology train and still holding a steady coffee cup without even spilling a drop. This science fiction is now a possibility. Don’t wait for the future, live it. The idea of a vacuum train was proposed by Elon Musk in a Hyperloop Alpha white paper in 2013. A train travelling in a vacuum tube where people and cargos can be transported in pods. Now been tested, the concept has been demonstrated practically and can soon be your favourite travel platform, which is even faster than air travel. In this article, ‘Future of Ultra-High-Speed Train Travel: Hyperloop Technology‘, we’ll be exploring this emerging technology and let our senses believe that we are in future. Additionally, you don’t need to spend on a space suit. Virgin Hyperloop and Hyperloop TT are the two major innovation companies that are planning to fill our future with technology and at the same time caring for environment. Let’s find out more.

First Success – Hyperloop Test Run

The future of high-speed train travel has arrived. The concept which was once described as ‘science fiction’, has been tested in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA) on 8th November 2020. The test run was for only 500 meters having two-seater Experimental-Pod-2 (XP-2) at the test track at DevLoop test facility of Virgin Hyperloop Company. Though, in the test run which was for 15 seconds, the train reached the speed of 172km/h or 107 mph, the target or the ideal speed for such high-speed travel is more than 1000 km/h or 670 mph. The good news is that soon this technology could be coming to your city as the commercial viability is already being studied by many nations like India, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Canada.

Virgin Hyperloop Pod - XP
Virgin Hyperloop XP-2 Pod
Virgin Hyperloop Tube Tunnel
Virgin Hyperloop Tunnel (Inside)
Virgin Hyperloop Vacuum Tube
Virgin Hyperloop Vacuum Tube

Hyperloop Technology – Fifth Mode of Transport

When it comes to high-speed travel, ‘friction’ and ‘air resistance’ are the two major challenges to be dealt with. They play a larger role when the speed is very high. But, if the vehicle (pod) is made to travel in such a way that it is levitating (floating) in an airless tube, then even 1000 mph is more than achievable which is thrice as fast as the Japanese Shinkansen bullet trains.

This concept was used to make magnetically levitating trains called Maglev Trains. Yes, Hyperloop technology is based on the same technology of maglev trains. In other words, hyperloop is a little improved version of maglev trains. You will be surprised to know, that in 2015, at a test run near Mt Fiji, a Japanese maglev train touched 374 mph.

The only issue around maglev trains was that the cost incurred is too high to maintain a vacuum for very large distances. In Hyperloop, the steel tube maintains a partial vacuum and aerodynamically designed ‘pods’ are used to transport passenger or cargo. The pods floats on a thin layer of air and once set in the motion using specially designed electric engines, can glide for the most part of the journey. Thereby making it very efficient in terms of fuel and environmental costs. The tubes can be built underground and above the ground.

Thus we have covered the technological limitations. Now over coming non-technological limitations.

Hyperloop TT Front – Image from Hyperloop Press Kit

Human ability and congestion are the two major limiting factors in mass passenger transport. Experts who are concerned with safety has determined that if you are an average human, then travelling at a speed of above 80 mph is dangerous as your reaction time is limited to only 2.3 seconds. And not to forget, that more than 90% of the road accidents are due to human error. But, when it comes to ‘hyperloop technology’, where the train is running in a vacuum tube, such high speeds are handled by autonomous systems and sensors which human supervision. The train is running within a tube, so not to worry about any congestion etc.

Thus this technology is ultra fast, cheap, safe and environment friendly.

Virgin Hyperloop Company

The Hyperloop company was based on the concept proposed by Elon Musk (Founder of SpaceX and Tesla). An Iranian American Shervin Pishevar who is a silicon valley investor started Hyperloop Technologies which was then renamed as Hyperloop One. Elon Musk himself could not join the venture as his priorities were with SpaceX and Tesla. So Pishevar continued and inducted Brogan Bambrogan, a former SpaceX engineer as the co-founder. Then many industry magnets and tycoons joined the grand plan.

In 2017, Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group invested in Virgin Hyperloop and thus what we have now is Virgin Hyperloop. Currently, it is an American technology company which is aiming for commercial high-speed rail transportation.

Business Rival – Hyperloop TT

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (Hyperloop TT) is the competitor of Virgin Hyperloop Company. Hyperloop TT is part-crowd funded and has signed agreements to build hyperloop projects in UAE, China, Czech Republic, South Korea, France and Indonesia.

This Company has its own patented levitating technology with inbuilt fail-safe systems.

Hyperloop TT - Image from the Press Kit
Hyperloop TT – Image from the Press Kit

The company claims to provide a lower cost of installation and operation as compared to other hyperloop project builders. Leybold, who is the inventor of the vacuum pump has helped to build specially designed vacuum pumps. Which will be stationed every 6.2 miles which will help to build the vacuum which is available only at the heights of Stratos Jump in the atmosphere. Take this, a commercial plane can fly at the height of 38,000 feet, the Stator jump is at the height of 126720 feet above the sea level. They have their own proprietary technology for passive magnetic levitation called Inductrack.

The new welcoming partnership has been signed with Hitachi Rail which will provide world-class and proven signalling technology. It will help to automate rail travel at very high speeds for 760 mph (1200 kmph). Hitachi Rail is an industry leader in research and development and has proven capabilities for rolling stock, signalling, digital technology, service and maintenance, turnkey projects. Obviously, we all know about the world-famous bullet trains.

The capsule of Hyperloop TT is aiming for the speed of 760 mph with the capacity of 28-50 passengers per capsule, which means, +160,000 passengers daily. Amazing!

Hyperloop TT Train Station - Image from Hyperloop TT Press Kit
Hyperloop TT Train Station – Image from Hyperloop TT Press Kit

Hyperloop Technology Coming to India

India is one of the major markets in the focus of Virgin Hyperloop Company. In 2018, one of the states of India, Maharashtra has deemed the hyperloop rail transport technology as a public infrastructure exercise, thereby approving the Virgin Hyperloop-DP World Consortium as the OPP (Original Project Proponent) for the rail project to the built from Mumbai to Pune. Thus, the ‘intent letter’ was signed between the government of Maharashtra and the Virgin Group.

Well, more surprises are underway. In north India, the Punjab transport department has signed an MoU to conduct feasibility studies for Amritsar-Ludhiana-Chandigarh Hyperloop Project.

The Silicon City, Bengaluru is conducting a feasibility study where a partnership is signed between Bangalore International Airport and Virgin Hyperloop.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (Hyperloop TT) has signed an MoU with the governmnet of Andhra Pradesh, a state in South India to build a Hyperloop project from Amravati to Vijayvada. It will help cover the distance of 1 hour in just 6 minutes.

Hyperloop TT – India Project

The Union government’s think thank NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) has formed a committee (Consultative Group on Future of Transportation (CGFT)) to chart a roadmap to study the feasibility and regulatory measures for Hyperloop Technology and to build a roadmap to make this technology as one of the public transport options.

This article: ‘Future of Ultra-High-Speed Train Travel: Hyperloop Technology‘, is meant to provide into the insights into the world of technological advances and innovations that are going to change our future for sure. Do share your thoughts on the future of our rail transport which will be cheaper and faster than air and also environment friendly.

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