New Feasibility Study ReleasedDecember 27, 2019
On December 16, 2019, at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio there was an event organized by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT), Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) and transportation planning firm Transportation Economics and Management Systems, Inc. (TEMS). The aim of it was to release and discuss the final draft of the Great Lakes Hyperloop Feasibility Study which is said to be the most comprehensive study done on hyperloop to date.
You can find more information about the hyperloop project in the Great Lakes region of North America here.
The study consists of eleven chapters and combines the assessment of the technical, financial, and regulatory review, site reconnaissance and preliminary route analysis, technical and financial feasibility study along with the project development cost.
There are three alternative routes that have been proposed:
- The Straight Line Route would connect Cleveland Airport to Chicago and its course would be close to a straight line.
- The Toll Road Route would run parallel to Ohio and Indiana Turnpikes crossing the existing highways in numerous locations but would not be as curvy as they are.
- The Hybrid Route is supposed to maximize the use of some straight segments of rails and highways.
Each one of them was individually analysed and considered as a probable option. For example, Toll Road Route option would result in creating an operating ratio (the ratio of operating expenses to net sales) of 4.15 over the course of 25 years. This outcome means that the operating profit of this project would be as high as $30 billion over the 25-year period. The study also mentions an underground construction that would be similar to pipelines and could be used for the routes that are meant to be built alongside highways, railroads or electric utility rights-of-way.
As for the technological part, the average hyperloop speed would go up to 500-600 miles (around 805-966 kilometres) per hour. This would not only shorten the time needed to get from one city to another, but also would help to reduce the pressure on intercity interstate highway system. The estimated travel times are:
- 40 minutes from Cleveland to Chicago,
- 30 minutes from Cleveland to Pittsburgh,
- 20 minutes from Cleveland to Toledo, Cleveland to Youngstown and South Bend to Chicago.
Another vital point of this project is the fact that it can be entirely powered by renewable energy sources.
The travel market was investigated as well and the findings suggest that it can grow from 40 million trips to 50 million trips by 2050. The estimated employment growth in the studied district would be over 931.000 person years from 2025 to 2050 with close to 40.000 additional job positions created. Since the hyperloop would make it easy to travel between Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and some other cities, the whole region can become more and more attractive for potential inhabitants and for business owners. The total income growth might even reach more than $47.6 billion from 2025 to 2050. And the numbers in added property value are calculated to be $74.8 billion.
The project proposed by HyperloopTT would allow three types of traffic to be carried, namely Air Cargo, Less-than-Truckload freight and Express Parcel. It is also worth mentioning that there is no need for hiring a crew working with freight as the capsules can operate unattended. It was projected that freight costs would be highly competitive with trucking costs, which in turn can contribute to the hyperloop attracting substantial volumes of freight from the highways.
The results of this study are very promising. The next step for the Great Lakes Hyperloop is to undertake an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) which is used to show that the development in question will have no negative impacts on the lands surrounding the subject. This type of study is supposed to provide enough information to design the development in such a way that it can avoid negative impacts at the outset as well as identify appropriate compensation for unavoidable impacts.
The full feasibility study can be found here.
The results of this study sound very promising but there are some questions raised when it comes to the numbers that are being promised. The most serious concern of people who were analyzing the report is the lack of details that would support the conclusions. Some experts call the methodology vague and unclear which makes the whole study less believable.
However, the process of designing the first hyperloop still goes on. The next step for the Great Lakes Hyperloop is to undertake an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) which is used to show that the development in question will have no negative impacts on the lands surrounding the subject. This type of study is supposed to provide enough information to design the development in such a way that it can avoid negative impacts at the outset as well as identify appropriate compensation for unavoidable impacts.