The latest contender for the world’s first commercial Hyperloop route is Pune to Mumbai. The Maharashtra state government has approved a bidding process for a contractor to build that Hyperloop, Forbes India claims.
“Maharashtra will create the first Hyperloop transportation system in the world, and a global Hyperloop supply chain starting from Pune,” Devendra Fadnavis brags in a Virgin-Hyperloop One press release. Importantly, Fadnavis is the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Fadnavis’s boast is wrong because Hyperloop One has had a Hyperloop up and running in North Las Vegas, Nevada, for several years. In addition, HyperloopTT and Transpod are building Hyperloop tracks in France.
In fact, HyperloopTT is testing the world’s first Hyperloop Passenger Pod at its track in Toulouse, France. Plus, HyperloopTT claims to have a full-size Hyperloop test track in operation.
Virgin Hyperloop One and its partner port operator DP World will bid on the Pune to Mumbai Hyperloop. Moreover, the two companies plan to invest $500 million in private capital to start the project, a press release claims. DP World hopes to build Hyperloop connections to the freight ports it operates all over the world.
Is Hyperloop Coming to Mumbai?
Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is India’s largest city with a population of 12.692 million people, the World Population Review estimates.
Meanwhile, Pune is India’s ninth largest city with a population with a population of 2.936 million in 2019. Moreover, India’s third-largest city, Bengaluru, with a population of 5.104 million sits between Pune and Mumbai.
Thus, a Pune to Mumbai Hyperloop will be an important test of the system’s ability to move large numbers of people. Virgin Hyperloop One estimates up to 130 million people could ride a Pune to Mumbai Hyperloop by 2026.
Impressively, Virgin Hyperloop One claims its system could cover the 150 kilometers (roughly 93 miles) between Mumbai and Pune in 13 to 35 minutes. In contrast it takes around an hour to make the trip by train and two hours and 48 minutes to drive the route.
How Does Hyperloop Work?
Theoretically, the Hyperloop could move pods at speeds of several hundred kilometers an hour.
They achieve those speeds by pumping most of the air out of the Hyperloop tube and pushing the pods with electromagnetic levitation or maglev. To explain, lack air reduces friction which increases speed.
Consequently, a Hyperloop pod could move as fast as a jet. Jets are fast because they fly at high altitudes where air pressure is low.
In addition to its speed, Hyperloop operates on electricity, so it requires no fossil fuels. However, they could need to burn coal or natural gas to generate that electricity. On the other hand, HyperloopTT claims solar panels will power its system.
Hyperloop is a Partially Proven Technology
Importantly, Hyperloop is a partially proven technology. Engineers have demonstrated several Hyperloop systems. However, as far as I know, no human being has ridden in a Hyperloop pod. Although, HyperloopTT could test a pod with human passengers within a year.
Work on the first 11.8 kilometer stretch of the Pune to Mumbai Hyperloop could begin as early as next year. The Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop is far from a certainty because the Maharashtra state government will needs tens of billions of dollars to pay for its construction.
Investors and futurists need to watch Hyperloop closely because it could be the most disruptive technology in ground transportation since the automobile. If it works, Hyperloop could replace airplanes and the automobile as favored methods of travel on many routes.