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Branson says hyperloop likely 'quite soon' in Saudi Arabia

Virgin Hyperloop One has potential projects in India, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, Sir Richard Branson revealed at an event in Dubai on 29 April, 2018

Hyperloop technology will come to Saudi Arabia.
Hyperloop technology will come to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince wants to roll out an ultra-fast hyperloop network in the kingdom, according to the British business tycoon, Sir Richard Branson.

HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), and the Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Defense of the kingdom, told Branson he wanted the high-speed hyperloop transportation system rolled out in Saudi Arabia.

“The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia came to our space port [in the US], where we also had Virgin Hyperloop set up,” said Branson, the chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One.

“He [the Crown Prince] said he would love to do it for Saudi Arabia, so I think Saudi Arabia will happen quite soon [for Virgin Hyperloop One].”

READ: Saudi Crown Prince meets Virgin Hyperloop One's Richard Branson

Virgin Hyperloop One has been talks with the Saudi Arabia to launch the rapid-transit system in the country for five months, the company’s chief technology officer, Josh Giegel said.

Branson and Giegel did not disclose what the next steps to developing hyperloop in Saudi Arabia are. If a system does get built, though, it could cut the time it takes to travel from Dubai to Riyadh to around 48 minutes.

Virgin Hyperloop One is backed by the Indian, Saudi Arabian, UAE, and the US governments.

Construction will begin on a 140km route between the Indian cities of Pune and Mumbai in Q1 2019, according to Giegel.

"We want to start construction on the route, which is about 140km long," he explained.

"What we’re starting with is the first 10km to 15km, and that’s part of the development plan, an important part of the certification plan for this. We’re starting construction next year, [carrying out operations for] certification in 2021 and 2022, and then moving to the full 140km route being built around that timeframe too." 

The track will link Pune, Navi Mumbai International Airport, and Mumbai in 25 minutes, connecting 26 million people.

It will carry cargo and passengers, ease congestion, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 78,000 tonnes over 30 years.

Branson and Giegel gave the construction update at an event held on 29 April, 2018, to mark the creation of a global firm by Virgin Hyperloop One and Dubai port operator, DP World.

The new company, DP World Cargospeed, will develop rapid-transit systems using Virgin Hyperloop’s magnetic levitation technology, to deliver goods and link road, rail, and air transport networks.

Hyperloop is a futuristic form of autonomous travel that uses magnetic levitation to propel pod-shaped vehicles through a steel or concrete tube at speeds of up to 300m per second. Most of the air is removed from the tube, allowing the pods to travel with minimal friction.

Virgin Hyperloop One said its technology could revolutionise the transport industry.

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