Billionaire Richard Branson unveils Hyperloop plans for India

Billionaire Richard Branson unveils Hyperloop plans for India

With the announcement of the framework agreement to begin the development of the route, the deal was signed by Virgin Group Founder and Virgin Hyperloop One Chairman, Sir Richard Branson in the presence of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, during the "Magnetic Maharashtra" investment summit on Sunday. The full route - linking Mumbai, the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport and Pune - is expected to go live in the next seven years.

"We have signed an agreement with Maharashtra to build a Virgin Hyperloop between Mumbai and Pune, beginning with an operational demonstration track in the region", said Virgin Group chairman Richard Branson.

Post conducting a feasibility study (which will define the final route and cost of the project) Hyperloop One will first build a demonstration test track between two points on the proposed route, completion of which should take around two to three years from the signing of the agreement.

This route could result in a $55 billion (₹3,50,000 crore) socio-economic benefits (time savings, emissions and accident reduction, operational cost savings) over 30 years of operation, according to a pre-feasibility study by Virgin Hyperloop One.

Branson is touting the tube-based transportation system-first theorized in 2013 by billionaire Elon Musk-to help address the infrastructure bottlenecks India is struggling with amid rapid urbanization. There have been global challenges in transportation due to over population over the last few years that attracted many developers and engineers from across the globe to plan newer routes for different cities.

"Virgin Hyperloop One will save thousands of lives by providing connectivity, creating jobs and transforming airports". Now we have another big news and it is for people living in Pune and Mumbai. Apart from India, the company is working on projects in countries like the UAE, the US, Canada, Finland, and the Netherlands. "The Pune-Mumbai route is one of the strongest economic cases we have seen to-date", said Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd. More than 2,600 teams registered globally, and the company narrowed it down to 35 semi-finalists with a potential pipeline worth $26 billion.

Actually, the company hopes to eventually set up a network, creating "the largest connected urban area in the world by linking almost 75 million people across the three metropolitan areas " of the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh". The company has said it was looking to link Bengaluru's city centre, IT hubs and industrial parks, as also improve connections between industrial hubs in the state, including Tumakuru, Hubli-Dharwad and Hosur. Some of the key investors of Hyperloop One, besides Branson, are Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, CEO and Group Chairman, DP World, and Ziyavudin Magomedov, Chairman, Summa Group.

The company is also in talks with Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka governments to introduces hyperloops in those markets.

However, the company also expects the Indian government to source funds for the two projects.