The first-ever successful run of a vacuum-sealed train was announced by Hyperloop One, an American start-up venture with the mission of building a super-fast Hyperloop train that would theoretically be able to reach speeds of 750 mph.
During the first test that was conducted in May 2017, the train reached a speed of 70 mph, less than 10 percent its intended goal of 750 mph. The test was conducted at DevLoop, Hyperloop One’s testing area in northern Las Vegas. They conducted another test on July 29th whereby the Hyperloop vehicle reached a speed of 192 mph. According to Hyperloop One, their next goal was to get their pods to reach the speed of 250 mph and they plan to build their first functioning Hyperloop system by 2021.
Hyperloop is a transportation system which allows pods or containers to move at high speed through a pressurized, vacuum-sealed tube called a Hypertube. Due to the fact that there would be so little friction in the tunnel, the pod or container could in theory move at speeds three times as fast as the most advanced commercial trains operating in the world today. The pods would either float using magnetic levitation technology or float using air caster “skis”, similar to how pucks travel across an air hockey table.
Initially, the pod would launch using an electric motor before levitation takes place. Hyperloop tunnels would be built either above or below ground and would need far less ground space to construct their tunnels and far less energy to transport the pods than conventional trains.
Pods could, according to current designs, potentially be launched on demand as frequently as every 20 seconds and others have suggested more eco-friendly designs using clean energy such as solar.
A Hyperloop would be able to travel from New York City to Los Angeles in less than four hours in efficient crash-proof weather resistant environment. The expectation is that this would be available for the price of a conventional bus ticket.
The idea for the Hyperloop came from Elon Musk, whose company Space X intends to provide the input into researching and funding the development of this project. Since then, several companies have taken it upon themselves to make the Hyperloop concept become a reality, the main players being Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Hyperloop One.
Musk’s initial idea was to create a route between Los Angeles and San Francisco. However it is anticipated that the first Hyperloop will be introduced in other countries. The Netherlands, Norway, France and Finland have expressed an interest in the technology and so have Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Besides the US, other nations that have experimented with Hyperloop technology include South Korea, Canada, China, Great Britain and Australia.
Hyperloop One has already revealed a list of potential Hyperloop routes in Europe:
- Corsica to Sardinia
- Estonia to Finland
- A loop around Germany
- An unspecified Polish loop
- A loop around the Netherlands
- Spain to Morocco
- A North — South UK connector from London to Edinburgh
- A UK Northern Arc from Liverpool to Glasgow through Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh
- Scotland to Wales
Russia and Hyperloop’s integration into the One Belt One Road
Whilst all these proposals and developments were underway, it should come as no surprise that Russian scientists have been working on high-speed transportation technologies similar to the Hyperloop.
The Russian Transport Minister stated in 2016, that he was shown a prototype in 2014 and that whilst the track travelled by a railway container carried by magnetic levitation is only of a short duration, such technological concepts have already been tried and tested by Russian specialists. The minister also added that Russia clearly understands the value and potential of such transportation technologies.
In another development it was subsequently announced by Hyperloop One that it is planning to build a high-speed cargo railway across Russia to deliver goods from China to Europe within the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. This railway would reduce the transportation time between China and Europe via Russia to just a single day. Unsurprisingly, Russian president Vladimir Putin has already pledged his support to the idea. It was also announced that The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) had significantly increased its investment in the Hyperloop high-speed transport system project.
It should come as no surprise that Russia is almost certainly not going to be the only country that will introduce the Hyperloop technology within the framework of the OBOR initiative. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has reportedly been in discussion with a number of Chinese provinces already regarding the implementation of the Hyperloop technology.
As ever both Russia and China work diligently, efficiently and beyond the radar on numerous projects and technologies which will support the OBOR initiative. It therefore comes as no surprise that they have been working on Hyperloop technologies for years before they announced it to the world. This is very much the tip of the iceberg and we can expect to see China and Russia announce major technological advancements in the future which will support their own internal economics but in a broader context the OBOR initiative and the likes of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).