ABU DHABI // The plan to build a hyperloop link between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain received further backing on Sunday.
Sheikh Falah bin Zayed signed an agreement with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies to support the project.
The California company is a third of the way through a six-month feasibility study to explore locations for stations and tracks after signing an agreement with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport in November.
Sheikh Falah’s sponsorship has allowed the hyperloop company to surpass US$100 million (Dh367m) in investments, said chairman Bibop Gresta.
He believed that once government approval was granted the first project could begin in a litle over three years.
HTT has signed agreements with more than 20 governments to conduct feasibility studies into the concept.
“In this region there is a vision and once Abu Dhabi sets its mind on doing something, it does it,” Mr Gresta said.
He did not provide the potential cost of the project, but said it would cost about $40m per kilometre to build. Since Abu Dhabi and Al Ain are 145km apart, that would suggest a cost of nearly $6 billion.
HTT is a rival to Hyperloop One, another US company that is conducting a feasibility study with the Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai into building a hyperloop link between the city and Abu Dhabi.
Moustafa Samir, an adviser to Sheikh Falah, said the partnership illustrated his desire to support projects that strengthened Abu Dhabi on a regional and international level.
He said the project “promises to support and develop the emirate’s infrastructure, and contribute to driving economic and social activity in Abu Dhabi, and in Al Ain in particular”.
The hyperloop concept, in which a magnetically levitated pod is propelled through a near-vacuum tube at speeds of up to 1,200 kilometres an hour, was proposed in 2013 by Elon Musk, the American engineer and entrepreneur.
But it has yet to be fully tested, and many scientists have suggested it faces engineering and financial challenges that may make it impracticable.