Before starting on the ambitious hyperloop project between Pune and Mumbai, Richard Branson's Virgin Group will be constructing a demonstration track. The track will be 10 km long and will run between Hinjewadi IT Park and Old Pune-Mumbai highway. A team of state officials are also likely to visit Los Angeles to witness a similar demonstration track developed by the company in the American city.
Officials in the Chief Minister's office told DNA that the land where the track will be developed is in the government's possession. The company would soon reveal the development plan but have nevertheless drawn up a detailed project report for the hyperloop project. The hyperloop is expected to reduce the travel time between Pune and Mumbai to 25 minutes from the current three hours.
Although the investment from the Virgin Group has not yet been revealed, the officer said that the capital cost for one kilometre is expected to be in the range of Rs 400 crore to Rs 700 crore, an estimate that is currently required for the elevated and underground metro railway.
Branson had announced earlier that a framework agreement has been signed between the state government and the company. The hyperloop transportation system is estimated to carry 150 million passengers every year and will be operated upto the speed of 1,000 kmph.
The same official however said that initially the hyperloop transportation system will operate at 350 kmph, which will gradually increase to 600 kmph before reaching 1,000 kmph.
Hyperloop is a train service that envisions loading passengers and cargo into a pod that will accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. According to Branson who is the Chairman of Hyperloop One, the company building this system, the pod will quickly lift above the track using magnetic levitation and glide at airline speeds for long distances due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag. In fact, with speeds 2-3 times faster than high-speed rail, hyperloop can connect far-flung Indian cities as if they were metro stops.
The technology for Hyperloop One is currently in the early stages of the commercialisation phase after the successful completion of the world's first full scale hyperloop systems test at their DevLoop site outside Las Vegas.
"We have always believed that India would be a tremendous market for hyperloop. The Pune-Mumbai route is one of the strongest economic cases we have seen to-date," said Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd.