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The 'Hyperloop' concept is a forward-looking rail transport upgrade that has already caught the public imagination thanks to the plans of billionaire Elon Musk to install it on the USA's west coast.
Musk, one of the pioneers behind space travel tourism and founder of Paypal, initially proposed linking San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2013 to cut the burden of air travel. Now a separate company called Hyperloop One, which Musk is not involved with, has suggested transforming India's transport network too.
As part of the British Empire, India benefited from the Victorian plan to construct lengthy rail lines to link across wide areas of countryside. However, rail travel in the country has become synonymous with an image of a slow and complicated network that lacks many comforts.
Now the ambitious scheme could turn India’s infrastructure problems into a futuristic solution that would be the envy of the world.
The power of vacuum
Hyperloop systems work by using the power of vacuum to draw pod-like train vehicles along tubes at very high speeds. In India it would revolutionise journeys around the world’s seventh largest country by reducing journey times between Delhi and Mumbai to 80 minutes for an 884 mile trip.
The Hyperloop trains are electromagnetically levitated, in much the same way as the Maglev trains used in China and Japan, and the tubes that they travel through can be elevated or buried underground.
The idea has been welcomed by India’s Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who commented: “We are living in exciting times.”
Shervin Pishevar, Hyperloop One’s executive chairman, said: “India is an extremely important geography for developing Hyperloop networks and re-imagining how cities and regions work.”
“The Prime Minister’s vision of connecting the country is directly aligned with our objective of connecting the world,” Pishevar added.
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Date Created: 03/03/2017