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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

Virgin Hyperloop unveils passenger experience in new video

The cost of the mass transit concept will be closer to driving than flying, company says

If seeing is believing then Virgin Hyperloop moved one step closer to reality this week with a new video showing the passenger experience for the mass transit concept.

The futuristic vision for this hyperloop is automated check-in, spacious seats and limited screens – a contrast to the cramped quarters and loud notifications of typical mass transit systems. As for cost, the company said ticket prices will vary depending on the exact route, but pointed to a recent study in Ohio which found that hyperloop fares would be more akin to the cost of driving than flying.

"It’s simple. If it’s not affordable, people won’t use it," said Jay Walder, chief executive of Virgin Hyperloop.

The ultimate vision for Virgin Hyperloop is to build a network that connects cities.

"Daily high-speed transport is currently not feasible for most people, but we want to change that notion," Mr Walder said.

Josh Giegel, co-founder and chief technology officer, previously told The National that its future commercial systems are being designed to have pods that seat 28 people. Artificial intelligence would manage trip timing and capacity, allowing for tens of thousands of passengers to be carried per hour.

The company aims to achieve safety certification by 2025, with commercial operations – such as those depicted in this video – beginning in 2030.

Groundbreaking design shows end-to-end passenger experience for the 21st century. courtesy: Virgin Hyperloop media.
Groundbreaking design shows end-to-end passenger experience for the 21st century. courtesy: Virgin Hyperloop media.

"Showing the passenger experience of Virgin Hyperloop is a glimpse of the future," Sultan Bin Sulayem, chairman of Virgin Hyperloop and group chairman and chief executive of DP World, said. "We have demonstrated the maturity of our technology. We are getting closer to commercialisation of what will be the first new mass-scale transportation mode in a century."

DP World, the world's biggest ports operator by volume, is the largest shareholder in Virgin Hyperloop, with plans to use the system to transport cargo in the future.

Following its successful passenger testing last November, Virgin Hyperloop is seeking regulation and certification of hyperloop systems in cities and countries around the world.

Last year, Saudi Arabia issued a trade licence for the company following a national pre-feasibility study on using hyperloop technology to transport people and goods. The study found a hyperloop would cut the travel time from Riyadh to Jeddah to only 46 minutes, compared with 9-10 hours by car.

Groundbreaking design shows end-to-end passenger experience for the 21st century. courtesy: Virgin Hyperloop media.
Groundbreaking design shows end-to-end passenger experience for the 21st century. courtesy: Virgin Hyperloop media.

Elon Musk came up with the idea for hyperloop technology in 2013, and challenged engineers to develop a sustainable, high-speed transportation method using low-pressure tube trains.

Two Los Angeles companies, Virgin Hyperloop and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, among several others, are now racing to make this concept a reality.

While Virgin Hyperloop is in talks about possible commercial projects in several US states, it has a longstanding presence in the UAE and the Middle East.

Updated: January 28, 2021 06:33 PM

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