Hyperloop is a proposed futuristic mode of passenger transport that will make travel possible via pods, through a tube at super high speeds. The prototype of the proposed technology is expected to come up soon. Hyperloop is the brainchild of Tesla founder Elon Musk, who open-sourced the basic design in 2013 as a white paper.
Bibop G Gresta, Chairman, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), is bullish about introducing the technology in India and has already proposed a ‘hyperloop’ (corridor) between Mumbai and Pune (a 150 km distance). In an interview on the sidelines of Momentum Jharkhand Global Investors’ Summit, Gresta talks about the company’s India plans and partnerships. Excerpts:
Each element of Hyperloop has been tested. We are ready to build; and we have developed the high scale testing (options) last year.
We are in finalisation of the feasibility study in Abu Dhabi and looking to build a prototype.
What are your India plans?
We have proposed a Mumbai-Pune route; and the proposal is pending approval from Nitin Gadkari’s department.
In Jharkhand too, we are talking about building a corridor. India has opportunities and can leapfrog by utilising the newest technologies because it does not have a legacy or the problems of re-converting its old technologies.
In India, who would be your partners?
We already have 10 different negotiations going on that involve private investors and companies. And we are in very advanced discussions with at least four of them.
You claim the technology to be cheaper. How cheap is it?
While it takes $40 million to $70 million a km (aerial distance) to build a railway line; Hyperloop technology will come at around $20 million-$40 million per km.
What would be the cost burden on an end-user?
For that, we need to do a feasibility study. However, let us average a Los Angeles – San Fransisco which covers 500 miles and takes over 3 hours of door-to-door travel (including the air travel). The average cheapest fare will be $150-160. Comparable travel through the Hyperloop will take 32 minutes door-to-door and will cost around $30.
But, let me repeat, talking about cost will be difficult because there may be times when I can monetise advertising revenues, leading to cheaper fares; other times, fares will be higher to regulate traffic.
Land availability for such pods will be a challenge. Your comments.
You have land. You have roads, rails. In the first phase, we can build the corridors on top of the existing ones; and utilise the existing right of way.
But, in the second phase or future we can get permissions for straight line corridors.
What type of investments are you looking at?
In the first phase, we are looking at investments of $200 million. This will be through local partners and will include setting up of a prototype (in India) and a research and development centre, including an incubator for future mobility projects. We are also looking at a 30 per cent support from the government.
Wouldn’t safety issues for such a new technology be a problem for its implementation?
Safety is not an issue for us. It is safe by definition. Hyperloop is like a self-driving car but with more intelligence.
For example, it can stop in 6.5 seconds in case of an emergency and evacuate passengers.
There is nothing on the ground comparable to us in terms of safety. Because we are frictionless, we don’t have mechanical parts or anything that can be broken.
Source: The Hindu Business Line
Author: ABHISHEK LAW