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Still nothing concrete for Hyperloop transport

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It’s like the early days of aviationsays Rick Geddes, an expert at Cornell University, near New York. There hasn’t been a new mode of transportation for over 100 years!

Elon Musk originally thought to connect San Francisco to Los Angeles in half an hour. Tired of traffic jams, he obviously did not believe in the Californian high-speed train project.

Taking up an old idea, he proposed circulating capsules (pods, in English) carrying about thirty people at speeds ranging from 1000 to 1200 km/h. They would follow one another in low-pressure tubes perched on pylons.

We have talked about the fifth mode of transport, after planes, trains, road vehicles and boats.

Three people in silhouette observe a Hyperloop vehicle in a showroom.

Zeleros showcased its Hyperloop vehicle at the Spanish Pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on October 1, 2021.

Photo: The Canadian Press/Kamran Jebreili

Beyond the feasibility, uncertainty remains on the costs. And many transport specialists remain frankly perplexed.

Elon Musk did not embark directly on the adventure, contenting himself with encouraging young companies to realize his dream.

He recently returned to the debate, proposing to levitate the capsules in tunnels dug by his company The Boring Company, at the risk of making the concept even more expensive.

Projects still active

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) has been very active, multiplying agreements here and there. The latest dates back to March 21, 2022 and aims to open a line between Venice and Padua, Italy, for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

HyperloopTT is ready to build, then assured its general manager, Andres De Leon. A speech that the young Californian shoot had already given to Agence France-Presse (AFP) five years ago and which contrasts with the more measured words of marketing manager Rob Miller, who now wants be more careful with this type of announcement.

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We are still waiting for the first section which was to open for the World Expo in Dubai in 2020. A project still relevant, according to Mr. Miller.

The company successively mentioned studies in the United States, France, Germany, China, Brazil, India, South Korea, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine. It was also to set up a large test center in Toulouse, France, which would never see the light of day.

Uns capsule of the Virgin Hyperloop company at the DevLoop test site in Las Vegas, outdoors.

A Virgin Hyperloop capsule.

Photo: Reuters

Another flamboyant young company, Virgin Hyperloop (formerly known as Hyperloop One) tested in the desert of Nevada, USA, reaching 387 km/h. In November 2020, it transported people for the first time, at 172 km/h, before announcing in February 2022 that it was reorienting itself towards the transport of goods.

The company has, in passing, laid off half of its staff and hired the Frenchman Pierre Chambion to lead engineering.

A Canadian company

The TransPod company is more discreet. Based in Canada, it is headed by Frenchman Sébastien Gendron, an engineer with a much more measured speech than his competition.

Its first connection is found, between Calgary and Edmonton, distant cities of 300 km. The line, planned to transport people and light goods, would cost, according to him, 18 billion euros (23 billion Canadian dollars).

: \”We will not put public money, but if you are able to finance the project by finding private capital, we will accompany you\””,”text”:”The reaction of the authorities was: \”We do not will not put public money, but if you are able to finance the project by finding private capital, we will accompany you\””}}”>The reaction of the authorities was: “We will not put public money, but if you are able to finance the project by finding private capital, we will accompany you”explained Mr. Gendron to AFP.

The company, which is due to present a prototype in July in Toronto, said in March that it had successfully raised 550 million US dollars (714 million Canadian dollars) from the British fund Broughton Capital Group, with a bank guarantee from China-East Resources. Import & Export Co (Cerieco).

It has a snowball effect and should allow fund tech this summerbelieves the leader of TransPod.

A first section of about 20 km should connect, if all goes well, Edmonton to its airport in 2027, the line to be open to Calgary between 2030 and 2035, according to him. It would then take 45 minutes to connect the two cities, for 60 euros (79 Canadian dollars) one way.

In France, for the moment, the public authorities are not interested, he regrets. A 3 km test track should still be opened in early 2023 in Haute-Vienne, in central-western France.

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