The government of the Indian state of Maharashtra has designated the proposed hyperloop link between Mumbai and Pune as a public infrastructure project, a move its proponents say could make it the first working hyperloop system in the world.
Ports giant DP World, which has invested millions in Virgin Hyperloop One, will spend $500m on Phase One of the project to establish a vacuum-tube transport link between the two cities, which are 118km apart as the crow flies.Â
It would cut the journey to fewer than 35 minutes, which is faster than a plane and a fraction of the 3.5 hours it takes by road.
The race is on to host the first hyperloop transportation system in the world, and today’s announcement puts India firmly in the lead– Jay Walder, Virgin Hyperloop One CEO
This recognition by the Maharashtra government follows the designation of Virgin Hyperloop One-DP World consortium as Original Project Proponent (OPP) by the Maharashtra Infrastructure Development Enabling Authority (MahaIDEA) earlier this year.
Revealing the state’s endorsement, Virgin Hyperloop One called it "a landmark announcement" that would start the public procurement process.
Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis said his state "will create the first hyperloop transportation system in the world and a global hyperloop supply chain starting from Pune".
"Maharashtra and India is at the forefront of hyperloop infrastructure building now and this is a moment of pride for our people," Fadnavis added.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World and Chairman Virgin Hyperloop One, said: "To be named OPP is an incredible vote of confidence in our ability to deliver this advanced technology to the people of India and enhance their lives."
The project’s first phase will certify this new technology for passenger operations.
One of a small number of companies formed to commercialise the hyperloop concept first proposed by Elon Musk, Virgin Hyperloop One has completed hundreds of test runs on its full scale test track in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
Beginning life as Hyperloop One, the company was renamed Virgin Hyperloop One in 2017 following a cash injection from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. DP World backed the company with investment in 2017.Â
Its system involves electromagnetically levitated pods being propelled through tubes in near-vacuum conditions, allowing an estimated top speed of 1080km/h.
"This is history in the making," said Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One. "The race is on to host the first hyperloop transportation system in the world, and today’s announcement puts India firmly in the lead."
Image: A Virgin Hyperloop One pod, with Maharashtra state branding, enters the company’s test track in North Las Vegas (Virgin Hyperloop One)
Further reading: Virgin and DP World team up to plan cargo-carrying Hyperloop