Hyperloop Test Track Coming to Pueblo

The Swiss company Swisspod Technologies plans to build a hyperloop test track near Pueblo, Colorado.

Pueblo is an old steel town in South Central Colorado. Swisspod plans to build a hyperloop test track near Pueblo at the old Pueblo Army Depot, The Pueblo Chieftain claims.

Swisspod is a company that is trying to commercialize the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) or Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne’s hyperloop research efforts. The EPFL has a miniature hyperloop test track at its Laussane campus. An EPFL team has competed at SpaceX’s Hyperloop contests in Hawthorne, California.

Notably, The Pueblo Chieftain’s claims that Swisspod operates Europe’s only Hyperloop test track are false. A quick internet search reveals that Swisspod does not even have a full-scale Hyperlop test track, just a miniature.

As far as I know the only Hyperloop test track in Europe is the one HyperloopTT operates in Toulouse, France. Unlike Swisspod, HyperloopTT operates a full-sized Hyperloop at its R&D center in Toulouse.

Full-scale Hyperloop coming to Pueblo

Swisspod plans to build a full-scale Hyperloop test track similar to HyperloopTT’s R&D facility at the PuebloPlex.

I imagine Swisspod will use the PuebloPlex facility to build and test a full-scale Hyperloop tube and Hyperloop pods. That could bring an important new industry to Pueblo, a decaying industrial city notorious for crime and gang violence.

In the 20th Century, Pueblo was a major steel center and Colorado’s second largest city. Today, Pueblo; which is south of Denver on I-25, is Colorado’s symbol of urban decay.

The PuebloPlex is the old Pueblo Army Depot, a World War II era chemical warfare facility. Businesses and government agencies now use the PuebloPlex for manufacturing and testing.

The Pueblo Army Depot has an interesting history. The US Army stored captured Nazi artworks there for decades. In addition, movie legend Cary Grant did his World War II army service as a clerk at the Depot.

US Railroads will Test Hyperloop in Pueblo

Swisspod will operate the Pueblo test track in partnership with the Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI).

The TTCI is a technology testing facility run by the Association of American Railroads at the PuebloPlex. Hence, the Swisspod facility will allow the US rail industry to test Hyperloop technology on US soil. One use of Hyperloop Swisspod is exploring is cargo transport. Cargo transport is the primary business of American railroads.

The Swisspod facility at PuebloPlex will be the third Hyperloop test track in the United States. Other hyperloops are the testing facility SpaceX operates in Hawthorne, a Los Angeles suburb, and Virgin Hyperloop’s test track in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The Virgin Hyperloop is the only Hyperloop that has actually carried human passengers.

They have not announced the dates for the construction of the Swisspod Hyperloop at PuebloPlex.

What is Hyperloop Anyway?

The Hyperloop is a large tube from which they pump part of the air. Theoretically, the lack of air pressure allows vehicle to travel through the tube at hundreds of mile an hour.

Swisspod, HyperloopTT, and Virgin Hyperloop plan to use magnetic levitation (maglev) to move the pods through the Hyperloop. Promoters, such as Elon Musk, think Hyperloop is the ground transportation system of the future.

I think Hyperloop could be the perfect transportation system for the age of climate change. First it could offer speeds comparable to passengers without leaving the ground or burning fossil fuels. For instance, HyperloopTT claims its system could move pods at 760 miles per hour.

Is Hyperloop a better form of Transport?

Unlike jets, which burn kerosene, Hyperloop runs on electricity. You can produce electricity with or without fossil fuels. For example, solar panels on the tube could help power the Hyperloop.

Hyperloop could eliminate the need for a lot of air travel. It could also eliminate the need for long-haul trucks.

Moreover, Hyperloop could be less vulnerable to the weather because it operates in a tube. Extreme weather is disrupting our transportation system. For instance, floods and mudslides keep closing Colorado’s main east-west highway; Interstate 70 (I-70), through Glenwood Canyon.

However, I think widespread adoption of Hyperloop is decades. Yet I think Hyperloop is inevitable because of its benefits. Thus, building a Hyperloop test track in Pueblo is a smart move.