Elon Musk’s project on superfast transportation – HyperLoop – has been the talk of the town ever since the company showed its interest in India. Even though the ministers did suggest Pune-Mumbai expressway for a pilot, the company sure knows what it wants to do.
HyperLoop One and HyperLoop Transportation Technologies(HTT) have picked up the route between Bengaluru and Chennai, which usually takes about 6 to 7 hours by bus or train, and an hour or so by flight. Hyperloop wants to reduce this travel time to only 30 mins!
Even bullet trains are slower than this technology, and airplanes take as much time as a HyperLoop vehicle, except there is too much time wasted in entry, security checks, exit, taxing, and boarding. Traveling at nearly 1,200 kmph, Hyperloop pods zoom through vacuum in a tunnel designed for such pods.
A report suggests, “HyperLoop One, a brainchild of Elon Musk, has proposed a plan to connect Chennai and Bengaluru using their innovative travel pods, which they say can transport passengers between the two cities in 30 minutes one way. Other routes HyperLoop One is interested in include Chennai-Mumbai, Bengaluru-Thiruvananthapuram, and Mumbai-Delhi.”
Not only does this technology reduce the travel time drastically, it is expected that travel will not prohibitively expensive. The charges may be higher than trains but will be marginally higher or at par to the flight tickets. However, compared to a flight, there will be no hassles of checking in and boarding a plane.
A 30-minute journey between these two large cities will change the way people commute. Despite the costs not being very low, it is possible for residents of one city to travel to the other city for work quite regularly, which was a challenge till now.
Possible challenges for HyperLoop in India
The biggest challenge in India right now is space, and for HyperLoop to connect two large cities, it needs a lot of area around the city to build the pods and the vacuum tubes in a straight line with minimum curves. At the moment, HyperLoop has been building the technology in the US and the UAE where there is plenty of barren land.
The Mumbai Metro and Bengaluru Metro took a lot of time to completion, and such delays could trickle down to HyperLoop as well. The project can cost upwards of $1 billion and take 38 months to build in the best case, or 5-6 years worst case. A developing country like India, that thrives on the services industry, might not have the right resources yet for such a technology.
Since the vehicle pods will take about 30 minutes one-way, the prices of the tickets are expected to be around Rs. 5,000, which are almost twice that of a flight ticket between the two cities. I see mostly individuals working with corporates or businessmen taking this facility on a regular basis.
Moreover, if HyperLoop is not able to make it cheaper for commuters in India, then it will defeat the purpose of fast and inexpensive travel. Even then, I’m very sure there will be a lot of takers for this technology and it will surely be a success in India.
Recently HyperLoop picked Abu Dhabi to Al Ain as the route in the UAE and the first in the world to become operational in 2021. If the company can overcome all the challenges, then it will revolutionize the way people in India will travel in the near future.