The government of Russia has announced a desire to build a 70km Hyperloop line on its Pacific Coast to link the port of Zarubino with China’s Jilin province, but wants China to help fund it.
The link would be part of Russia’s plan to develop a series of transport corridors between its Primorye region and northeast China.
The Hyperloop concept, proposed by the high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, envisages passengers in pods being whisked along a vacuum tube at near the speed of sound.
Two companies in the US – not Musk’s – are racing to test and commercialise the technology.
Maksim Sokolov, the transport minister, told Russian journalists about the plan on the sidelines of the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
He said: "I have already held talks with Hyperloop company. We have suggested the investors consider the construction project of the zone within the international transport corridor Primorye-2."
Sokolov did not say which company he had talked to.
The port of Zarubino would be one terminus of the ‘loop (Wikimedia Commons)
According to Sokolov, building the system will be cheaper than laying a conventional high-speed rail line. The project’s cost has been estimated at about $500m.
He added that the ministry would try to interest China in co-financing the link as part of its Silk Road grand strategy.
Beijing has already shown interest in providing a $5.2bn loan for the $15bn Moscow-Kazan high-speed rail line.
However, in March this year Yury Trutnev, a deputy prime minister and presidential envoy for the Far East, told journalists that Chinese investors were not ready to invest in projects to develop the Primorye-1 and Primorye-2 corridors "due to the lack of economic appeal".
"Our Chinese, Japanese and Korean colleagues can be approached with proposals when we have made the project appealing to our Russian investors. But going to the Chinese and saying ‘Invest!’ doesn’t work if it is not appealing to anyone in Russia," he said, according to Interfax.
Russian news agency TASS reported today that Sokolov would discuss the idea with the Chinese in August.
Primorye-1 will link the Chinese border city of Suifenhe, the Grodekovo railway station, the border region of Primorye and the ports in the east of the region.
The competition: an Irkutsk diesel in action (Wikimedia Commons)
Previously, Russia has indicated an interest in using the open-source Hyperloop system to transport freight, and to connect Moscow and St Petersburg.
Primorye-2 will link the ports of Posiet, Zarubino and Slavyanka to China’s northeastern territories. Summa Group, a privately owned Russian industrial conglomerate, is taking the lead in implementing this project.
It has been estimated that the implementation of the corridors will require investment of more than $3bn.
Trade between Russia and China reached $6 billion last month, according to Russian media, up 10% on the previous year, with both sides’ imports and exports around the $3bn level.
Top image: Segments of a Hyperloop test track await assembly in Nevada in May this year – a project of Hyperloop One, one of two firms racing to commercialise the concept (Hyperloop One)