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Virgin Hyperloop will now deliver cargo, not people, as hundreds laid off

The dramatic business model shift is a response to increased demand for freight shipping amid the COVID-induced global supply-chain crisis.

Virgin Hyperloop will now deliver cargo, not people, as hundreds laid off
[Image: Virgin Atlantic]

The dream of the day when you can board a Hyperloop to travel from one destination to the next just died a little. That’s because Virgin Hyperloop, the only Hyperloop company that has successfully completed a test run with actual human travelers, has now decided to focus on transporting cargo, not people.

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As The Financial Times reports, on Friday Virgin Hyperloop laid off 111 of its employees, or almost half its staff, and embraced an entirely new business model: the transportation of freight, not people. Virgin Hyperloop told the FT that the change in business model was the result of the global supply-chain crisis and COVID-19. The company said a rising interest from customers in a cargo transportation service was the driving factor.

The American company is owned by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Dubai-based logistics firm DP World, among others. DP World said the aim of the new business model was to deliver cargo at “the speed of flight and closer to the cost of trucking” and that a successful freight-based Hyperloop could be ready by 2026. The company also cited lower regulatory hurdles for transporting cargo as one of the benefits of the business model switch.

However, the hope for a passenger-based Hyperloop isn’t completely dead. DP World said that profits from the launch of a successful cargo Hyperloop service could be applied to a passenger service before the decade is out.

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About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, journalist, and former screenwriter. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books. You can read more about him at MichaelGrothaus.com

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