Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche


SpaceX Hyperloop Tunnel, Abu Dhabi Hyperloop, Missouri Hyperloop Planned

A lot of big news is breaking in the world of Hyperloop. Notably, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) plans to break ground on a “commercial line” in Abu Dhabi next summer.

Not to be outdone, Elon Musk claims his underground Hyperloop test track will open on 10 December 2018. Markedly, a Bloomberg story did not say how long the tunnel is.

The tunnel is 40-feet below the streets of a Los Angeles suburb and connects Space Headquarters and Hawthorne Municipal Airport, The Los Angeles Times reports. Notably, the tunnel features such as James Bondish features as an elevator hidden in a garage next to a house.

They will use the tunnel to test Musk’s Hyperloop technology. However, SpaceX provided no date for testing with human beings.

HyperloopTT will break ground in Abu Dhabi

Despite the media’s obsession with Musk’s star power, HyperloopTT is much farther along.

The crowd-sourced company hopes to break ground of the first section of a line in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in summer 2019. Once again, few details of the project are available.

The line will reportedly connect the site of Expo 2020 and Al Maktoum International Airport, The National reveals. The exact route is unknown but it could run close to a new housing project and the commuter town of Al Ghadeer.

Beyond that, long-range plans call for the Hyperloop to connect Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Importantly, HyperloopTT is building a large test track in France and a full-sized Hyperloop passenger capsule called Quintero One in Spain.

Design firm Dar Al Handasah, Dar Group, architects Perkins+Will, engineering firms TY Lin International and GPO Group, and cost management outfit Currie & Brown will participate in the UAE project. They have named no contractors for the project.

Missouri Hyperloop Feasibility Study Complete

They have completed a feasibility study for a Hyperloop line in Missouri. The line will run along the I-70 Corridor and connect Kansas City and St. Louis.

If they build the line, it will take 31 minutes to travel the 248 miles between Kansas City and St. Louis, Virgin Hyperloop One claims. Conversely, the same journey takes three hours by auto – if there are no traffic delays.

The study claims the route will generate $410 million a year, The Verge reports. In particular, the I-70 corridor in Missouri is one of the longest and straightest routes in the United States, Ryan Kelly notes.

Missouri Hyperloop Could be basis of a National Hyperloop

Moreover, they could easily extend the Missouri Hyperloop west to Denver, Northeast to Chicago, and Southeast to Texas and Oklahoma. Additionally, the operator could extend the I-70 line  east all the way to Baltimore. Uniquely such a route will run through; or near, Indianapolis, Dayton, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Hagerstown, Frederick, Washington DC, and Baltimore.

Therefore, the Kansas City to St. Louis Hyperloop could be the beginning of a national system. On the other hand, that Hyperloop will need to carry freight to be profitable.

Notably, the study provided no cost for the construction or operation of the Missouri Hyperloop. Thus, the “feasibility study” for the project is far from complete.

Richard Branson is Out at Virgin Hyperloop One

Sir Richard Branson is out at Virgin Hyperloop One. To explain, Branson stepped down as the company’s chairman after a feud with Saudi Arabia.

Branson left after Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund or sovereign wealth fund suspended a $1 billion investment in Virgin Group’s space program. Branson upset the Saudis by criticizing the alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Business Insider reports.

Branson’s withdrawal is not a big deal because he merely a figurehead at Virgin Hyperloop One. To clarify, CEO Rob Lloyd runs the company. Hence, Branson’s departure is not the calamity that the celebrity-obsessed media portrays it as.

Branson’s Departure is good for Virgin Hyperloop One

Branson’s exit is good for Hyperloop One because it removes an egotistical celebrity who will only distract from the company’s work. Hopefully, they will remove the terrible name Virgin from the company.

Moreover, Virgin’s track record in rail is terrible. For instance, The Guardian reports that Her Majesty’s government renationalized Virgin Trains’ London-to-Edinburgh to Inverness passenger service.

The government seized the trains because Virgin and a company called Stagecoach were not making payments. In other words, the government repossessed Virgin’s trains for nonpayment.

Instead of Virgin, another company called Arup will run the trains under government supervision. Moreover, this is the second time the British government has nationalized Virgin’s trains.

The government nationalized the same service in 2009 and “reprivatized” in 2015. Notably, passenger numbers on the trains on the UK’s East Main Line have been falling for some time.

Under these circumstances, Virgin is a terrible choice for building and operating a Hyperloop system. Hopefully, a company with a good track record in transportation and infrastructure will take its place.

Will Warren Buffett and Bill Gates invest in Hyperloop?

I hope Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.B); which owns the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad and pipelines, or Bill Gates will take Virgin’s place. Importantly, Gates owns a large piece of the Canadian National Railroad (NYSE: CNI).

In addition, Gates’ hedge fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) is making investments in radical energy technologies such as hot fusion. Hopefully, Gates will invest in Hyperloop.

The BEV should invest in Hyperloop because it could move vast amounts of freight and passengers without burning fossil fuels. To clarify, the BEV’s mission is to replace fossil fuels with new technologies. Thus, the Hyperloop is a perfect fit for BEV investments.

Furthermore, Branson is an investor in BEV so a Gates Hyperloop investment is not far-fetched. Hyperloop needs some boring celebrities like Gates that can get stuff done without a media circus.