Virgin Hyperloop One Proposes ‘National Network’ for India

The network would link three states in the subcontinent.

Virgin Hyperloop One, which recently changed its name to reflect the involvement of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, thinks India might be the perfect place to build its futuristic transportation system.

Three Indian states—Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh—are conducting studies with Hyperloop One about the feasibility of a network connecting them, according to a company blog post. This “national network” would enable travel between many of India’s major cities in less than two hours, and serve up to 75 million people living in the three states, Hyperloop One claims.

India makes sense as a Hyperloop location because it has a large population, a growing economy, and overtaxed transportation infrastructure. India’s major cities are spread far apart, and the roads and rail lines that serve individual cities are often overcrowded. The closest airport to Amaravati, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, is a 90-minute to two-hour drive from the city center, Hyperloop says. The company claims it could get people to the airport in as little as five minutes.

In addition to the utility of the finished product, Hyperloop One claims construction of the network itself will stimulate India’s economy. The company will build the “core technology,” but it will rely on Indian contractors to “build, operate, and maintain the systems,” the Hyperloop One post said.

With its crowded cities and massive size, India may be one of the few places with a transportation problem big enough that a radical rethink such as a Hyperloop is required. But actually building a Hyperloop will require lots of cash and further development of the technology. Hyperloop One has conducted some tests, but it hasn’t built and operated a full-scale system yet.

Despite its unproven nature, Hyperloop transportation has captured the imagination of businesspeople and engineers. Multiple companies are working to develop their own Hyperloops, with Arrivo recently inking a deal to launch a smaller-scale system in Denver by 2021.