Promises and Misconceptions About the Calgary-Edmonton RouteJanuary 13, 2020
People who are in favour of the hyperloop technology in Canada often state that the previous NDP government (The New Democratic Party, a social-democratic federal political party in Canada) had offered up land to host a 10-kilometre test line along the west side of Highway 2 for hyperloop. Unfortunately, their UCP (The United Conservative Party is a conservative political party in the province of Alberta, Canada) successors have been ignoring this fact. Sebastien Gendron’s words seem to support those statements:
The CEO of TransPod said: “We can’t get any traction or interest from the province.”
TransPod is a Canadian company working on the hyperloop technology. It has developed corporate partnerships with REC Architecture, MERMEC, SITAEL, two companies of Angelo Investments and is currently in discussions with several industrial partners as well as Canadian Engineering Research Centres. TransPod is also designing their test track in France. Its construction is scheduled to start in March, 2020. The European Union is also in favour of TransPod’s endavours because it has just approved €19 million in funding to support the company’s research and development in Italy and France.
The whole system placed in Alberta is estimated to cost up to $8 billion and ideally would be finished before 2030 but in order for this to happen, a letter of support from the provincial government is needed. It would unleash even up to $200 million in private investment funds. This way, the province would not have to finance the project from public money.
The landscape between Edmonton and Calgary is very promising when it comes to the fifth mode of transport as it is flat and thinly-populated but at the same time economically feasible because of the ridership it can provide. The planned route has stations in downtown Calgary, the city’s airport, Red Deer and Edmonton International Airport.
It could also be profitable for the inhabitants. Apart from new jobs created to build the infrastructure, a fully operational hyperloop would boost the provincial economy and create 14.500 additional jobs.
There are also a large number of people who have been wondering about the new technology that they are not familiar with. They would rather have a high-speed rail than a hyperloop. Their main concerns are:
- about the pressure, both in the pod and in the tube,
- about the speed and its impact on human body,
- about the acceleration and making turns while the pod is moving with such a high speed.
Those issues are quite universal, they are not only applicable to this particular Canadian route.
In situations like this one, when a big decision about the landscape, involving a lot of money, has to be made, it is easier to turn to the solutions that are already in use – hence a high-speed rail idea. However, a hyperloop is something worth considering and the ambiguities can be resolved.
First of all, we already have the know-how concerning pressurized cabins in planes and we know how to build safe vacuum chambers. There have also been multiple demonstration sites both in the USA and in Europe built to prove that the tubes in question can be constructed and operated in a safe manner.
Secondly, the speed is not a problem because the human body does not feel the speed. What it feels is the acceleration which is the next issue. The feeling of it will not be very different from this of a train or a streetcar.
In order to make turns, which will not be sharp as the routes are planned to mainly be straight with large curves in some places, the pods will tilt. The feeling of tilting can be compared to that in a plane that is turning, about to land.
A spokeswoman for Alberta Transportation said that they have not received a hyperloop proposal from TransPod yet but then she added:
“We look forward to reviewing it if and when we receive it.”
So it seems like there is a chance the government will look into the project so that this Canadian province could get the newest and the fastest mode of transport.