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India is set to become home to the world’s first hyperloop system

India is set to become home to the world’s first hyperloop system
[Photo: courtesy of Virgin Hyperloop One]

Officially pulling the hyperloop out of science-fiction territory and into the real world, the government of Maharashtra in west India has officially declared that it will pursue construction of the high-speed transit technology between Mumbai and Pune.

Virgin Hyperloop One and the shipping company DP World are teaming up to bring the project to life in India. While it will serve the public, it will be entirely funded with private investment, according to a press release from Hyperloop One. DP World, a Dubai-based port operator, will spend $500 million up front to complete the first phase of the project, and the rest of the funds needed to complete the project—which will total in the billions of dollars—will come from other investors.

In designating the hyperloop as a “public infrastructure project,” Maharashtra will formally solicit bids from companies to build it out. Virgin Hyperloop One will still have to participate in the bidding to secure the contract, but it’s fairly confident that it will be the winner, according to the release. Virgin Hyperloop One signed a contract with Maharashtra in 2017 to study the impact of bringing hyperloop technology to the region.

Hyperloop technology uses electric propulsion and magnetic levitation to move pods at incredibly fast speeds through transit tunnels. Testing of the Virgin Hyperloop One in Las Vegas has seen the pods move up to 240 miles per hour, but it estimates that with a longer track, it could reach up to 700 miles per hour. However, Virgin Hyperloop One has not yet tested the technology with human passengers. Should doing so prove successful, though, it estimates that people in India will be able to make the 3.5-hour trip between Mumbai and Pune in just around 30 minutes.

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