Virgin Hyperloop One’s project in danger?

Virgin Hyperloop One’s project in danger?

December 12, 2019 0 By Looper

At the beginning of last year, in February, in the presence of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, Sir Richard Branson announced that his company is eager to build a hyperloop route that would connect Mumbai and Pune. This project was set to have two phases. Building an operational demonstration corridor of 11.4 km is the first phase. You can read about it here: India to release Hyperloop test track tender within 3 months.The second one is finishing the whole track which is 117.5 km long.

PMRDA’s public declaration

In theory, this high-speed line would cover the distance of over 100 km in only 25 minutes. The project is aiming to enable 150 million passenger trips annually but would not only be meant for people but also for cargo. Right now, the number of passengers on that route is 75 million each year but this number can easily grow over the next few years. Virgin Hyperloop One also claims that their project will create new high-tech jobs and billions of dollars in socioeconomic benefits for the whole Maharashtra region.

The Indian Government approved a consortium between Virgin Hyperloop One and DP World which is a global port operator willing to invest in the project. There is also a unit called The Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) which is executing the hyperloop project as it has been stated in their public declaration.

However, Pune-Mumbai hyperloop project might be much harder to implement than previously expected. There are more and more people who are not satisfied with putting that much money and effort in a risky project that will take a lot of time to complete.  The biggest charge against it is the scale of expenditure and the uncertainty that comes with this new technology that has not been fully developed yet. Prithviraj Chavan who is a member of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra and a member of the Indian National Congress recently said:

“I had earlier raised doubts about the hyperloop. I am doubtful about its technology, financial impacts and operations. We need to see if this is a priority. We will be asking the government for official information about the project next week and will discuss the project and its feasibility with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar soon.”

It is consistent with his other comments on this topic:

“The government spent crores of rupees on things like bullet train and hyperloop while ignoring the real issues state faces”.

Uddhav Thackeray

There are some political observers that are concerned with Chavan’s views on the hyperloop technology. Sadly, he was not the only one opposing the idea. The NCP leader Ajit Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray were also against it. The latter one is the leader of Shiv Sena, who was sworn in the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on 28 November 2019. His key focus areas are not new technologies but for example farmer’s issues, social justice, tourism, health and education. In his hands lies the fate of the Pune-Mumbai hyperloop project. Nothing is certain yet but Thackeray’s government is likely to put the plan under review.