Friday, December 1, 2017

Can Hyperloop Aims to Defeat Passenger Transport Problems in India Benefit the Freight Sector?

Three States Study the Feasibility of Travel Faster Than Air or High Speed Rail
Shipping News Feature
INDIA – Despite the early involvement in the project of entrepreneur and Tesla boss Elon Musk the first real work to develop the Hyperloop, the means of sending freight and passengers through a vacuum tube at almost undreamt of speeds, began in a garage in Los Angeles in 2014. Now, having tested the system and interested logistics stakeholders and others from as far afield as Scandinavia, Europe, the US and the UAE, Hyperloop One is targeting India with a potential to revolutionise travel across the subcontinent, with possible side benefits for the carriage of freight.

There are moves in three key Indian states to study the possibilities of the system with Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh all taking a look at the feasibility and the potential effect on the local economies. With such vital urban regions such as Mumbai, Bengaluru and the port city of Visakhapatnam being targeted, anyone with any knowledge or experience of Indian Railways will appreciate the giant leap in technology being envisioned.

Hyperloop One says that a network established in India would mean travel between any two points in the country could be achieved within two hours and cites and quotes times such as Mumbai to Pune, a journey which currently takes well over an hour by train, as just 13 minutes! This of course uses the hypothetical travel speed of 1080 kilometres per hour which the company says is achievable.

Financially such a development would principally rely on passenger transport with all the problems of G force under acceleration and deceleration however, Musk and co are content these will be overcome, pointing out the obvious parallel with air travel, and any side benefits of using the system for freight transport would not be so concerned with such problems anyway. Nick Earle, SVP of Global Field Operations, Hyperloop One, says:

”Imagine the potential impact on people’s lives and commerce if travel between Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, and Amaravati could take place in under two hours. Hyperloop could change the face of India just as trains did during the Industrial Revolution.”

The company says Hyperloop development presents an opportunity for India to leapfrog again, just as it achieved in terms of communication with mobile phone technology which now has 80% market penetration and over a billion users, with Hyperloop addressing fundamental weaknesses in its transportation infrastructure. Achieving speeds 2-3 times faster than high-speed rail, Hyperloop says it could connect far-flung Indian cities as if they were metro stops, and offer energy-efficient, on-demand, and cost-effective transport at aircraft speeds.

The three states believe that Hyperloop could improve global competitiveness, reduce congestion and emissions, and provide citizens with better social and economic mobility. While the studies underway would identify potential routes in each state, there are plenty of opportunities within each state where Hyperloop could make a difference.