Remember how travelling to Bangalore airport sometimes takes more time than the flight duration itself? Well, to the relief of the citizens, it seems that this might not be how the future is going to look like. Bangalore’s Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), signed an MoU with California-based futuristic transportation company, Virgin Hyperloop, to study whether a hyperloop transportation system can be established within the city.
We are thrilled to announce a trailblazing #partnership with @virginhyperloop which will delve into the feasibility of a mode of mass transit to enable #travel from #BLRairport to the city centre in 10 minutes. Know more: https://t.co/YoP0qKnGGP #WeAreHereForYou pic.twitter.com/WYCl73Ua5V
— BLR Airport (@BLRAirport) September 27, 2020
What is Hyperloop? How is it Different From High-Speed Rail?
Hyperloop is an emerging ground transportation system that can convey people and goods at very high speeds. It consists of one or more low-pressure sealed tube which incorporates a floating pod that can travel in the range of 1080 to 1500 kilometres in an hour – faster than traditional trains and comparable with aeroplanes.
The floating pods that carry the passengers and cargo do not have wheels like high-speed rails. Instead, they float on air bearings to reduce friction, much like an air hockey table.
Although the concept was introduced long ago, Hyperloop technology is still in its infancy stage in terms of development. However, people believe that this technology has great potential as it is significantly better than other transportation systems including high-speed rail. Hyperloop is said to be cheaper than a high-speed rail system in terms of construction and about three times faster than the same. Even when it comes to energy consumption, hyperloop is said to be way more beneficial as compared to high-speed rails.
What Will Happen if Hyperloop Becomes a Reality in Bangalore?
If hyperloop turns out to be feasible in the city, we might be able to tackle the traffic problem up to a great extent. The preliminary study shows that hyperloop will be able to convey thousands of people from the City Business District (CBD) that lies at the heart of the city to the airport which is about 40 kilometres away – in just about 10 minutes. Chief Secretary of the Government of Karnataka, TM Vijay Bhaskar, stated:
Passengers will be able to reduce the total travel time with seamless security checks for both the hyperloop and air travel in the hyperloop terminals itself.
Additionally, the revolutionary transportation system is expected to improve supply chain efficiency considerably. Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman, Virgin Hyperloop, stated:
Other Ongoing Hyperloop Projects in India
Introduction of world-class transportation networks is of utmost importance, especially when it comes to countries like India which has a vast population and one of the busiest road and highway networks in the world.
India is one of the many countries working on the development of the Hyperloop infrastructure to connect different cities in the country. Earlier projections on five feasible routes for hyperloop showed 55 minutes commute time for Delhi-Jaipur-Indore-Mumbai (1,317km), 50 minutes for Mumbai-Bangalore-Chennai (1,102km), 41 minutes for Bangalore-Thiruvananthapuram (736km) and 20 minutes for Bangalore to Chennai (334km).
In 2019, there was a lot of buzz around Virgin Hyperloop One’s Mumbai-Pune project to link Mumbai Airport to Pune – reducing the commute time from three hours to 25 minutes. However, in January 2020, the state government put the project aside stating that it “did not have the capacity to experiment with the [Mumbai-Pune] hyperloop.” But in March 2020, Eknath Shinde, Urban Development Minister, Maharashtra, stated that the Mumbai-Pune hyperloop was still on the cards and would be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs. 70,000 crore.
Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is also working on a project to connect Vijayawada and Amaravati. However, there is no update on the project as yet. Guess, we will have to see which project really takes off and bags the title of the first operational hyperloop in the country, if at all.
What Will the Pricing Model Look Like?
Hyperloop technology sounds great. However, the question is that even when a network like this becomes operational, will the tickets be cheap or expensive for a middle-class person? While sources tell that one-way passenger tickets between Los Angeles and San Francisco (about 615 km) should cost only $20 (roughly Rs. 1,500), setting low prices in India will wreak havoc on other transportation systems such as trains and buses. As for the company, the project requires more private funding, so it will only make sense to maintain a balance in the price modelling – to attract the common people for mass transit while not compromising too much on the revenue. Harj Dhaliwal, managing director for the Middle East and India at Virgin Hyperloop One, previously stated:
Read more: WireX – September Edition