The track is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs. "We are not pricing this as something only for wealthy, this will be available to the masses", he told the media, adding "I believe Virgin Hyperloop One could have the same impact upon India in the 21st century as trains did in the 20th century".
Mumbai: Virgin Hyperloop One, the futuristic transport startup backed by British tycoon Richard Branson, has announced plans for a superfast rail network linking India's financial capital Mumbai to the city of Pune. "Supporting 150 million passenger trips per year, it would help create a thriving, competitive megaregion", he wrote on his blog. If realized, the Hyperloop would connect the city of Pune with the upcoming new airport in Mumbai in just 25 minutes, saving about three hours.
While a high-speed Hyperloop system seems like a distant dream, it does feel one step closer with this recent announcement. However, Virgin cites it will be divided into two phases: the first phase will set a demonstration track to built in two to three years of signing the agreement.
The project would commence after the government gives a green signal to the feasibility report prepared over the next six months.
The total estimated cost of the project has yet to be established but a feasibility study now underway will be used to determine the structure of any subsequent public-private partnership entered into.
The electric loop will be 100 per cent electric and will for a crucial link between central Pune, the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport, and Mumbai.
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Virgin Hyperloop One estimates it will bring 3.5 trillion rupees (£39bn) in socio-economic benefits to the region over three decades of operation, incorporating factors like time-saving, operational costs, emissions and accident reduction into its calculation.
Hyperloop One said the state government could also consider rapid movement of palletized freight and light cargo between the Mumbai port and Pune.
The Virgin Hyperloop is capable of reaching speeds up to 1,000 km/h, however the latest study has been based on an average speed of 350 km/h, while the infrastructure will be able to handle speeds up to 600-1,000 km/h. "The Pune-Mumbai route is one of the strongest economic cases we have seen to-date", said Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd. And if you're wondering about ticket costs, Hyperloop states that it intends to make this form of transport "affordable for everyone".
That's not to say that hyperloop concept doesn't have critics, many of whom cast doubt on its viability.
It's being claimed that the cost of building a hyperloop is much less than building a high-speed railway line for the same distance.
If all goes to plan, and travel time is indeed cut down to less than 30 minutes, Mumbai and Pune could balloon into one megapolis, and what is now an intercity travel could end up being a routine commute.