Estonian prime minister JÃ¼ri Ratas has signed a letter of intent with Californian company Hyperloop One to develop an ultrafast link between Tallinn and Helsinki. If built, the train would make use of a much discussed plan to build a tunnel under the Baltic Sea between the two capitals.
Ratas, who travelled to Los Angeles for the ceremony, was quoted by the Estonian press as saying: "Although the new transportation technology is still being developed and the main testing still lies ahead, Estonia must display interest and inquire as to how the new technology works and what the [costs] involved are. When these kinds of bold solutions, novel solutions, exist, we analyse them and are on board."
However, he added that at present the interest shown was "rather symbolic", and mainly signified Estonia’s readiness to cooperate. He said further research would have to be done to determine whether a superfast link would be likely to stimulate economic growth.
If a Hyperloop were to be installed in a €13bn, 92km sea tunnel – the longest ever built – it would reduce the time taken for a passenger to move between the two cities to less than 10 minutes, compared with around two hours by ferry.
According to the prime minister, the Finnish government would have to cooperate as well. He said: "The link cannot stop in the middle of the Gulf of Finland. Once both countries express this readiness, the relevant impact assessments and a cost-benefit analysis will have to be completed."
For its part, Finland has begun investigating possible Hyperloop routes, with a link to Stockholm under discussion last year. This year, Danish consulting engineer Ramboll is researching a possible link between Helsinki, Salo and Turku, Finland’s fifth largest city.
In March of this year, Salo announced plans to build a 15km proof-of-concept test track. The project will initially focus on land use and environmental impact studies, followed by a more detailed technical assessment as to the feasibility of building a track.
Image: Hyperloop One chief executive Rob Lloyd and co-founder Josh Giegel with JÃ¼ri Ratas between them