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Virgin Hyperloop One shakes up management team

HE Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem and Jay Walder have been elected chairman and chief executive officer respectively of Virgin Hyperloop One

Virgin Hyperloop One wants to build a high-speed network that spans the entire GCC.
Virgin Hyperloop One wants to build a high-speed network that spans the entire GCC.

HE Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem has been named chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One amid a leadership shake-up sparked by Sir Richard Branson's resignation last month.

Sulayem, group chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of DP World, which is set to become Virgin Hyperloop One's largest investor, has been elected chairman of the company that wants to build an ultra-high-speed transport network across the GCC.

Jay Walder, former chairman and CEO of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has been appointed CEO and replaces Rob Lloyd, who served as CEO for more than three years.

READ: Richard Branson steps down as chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One

On the change at the top, Sulayem said Virgin Hyerloop One needed new leadership to guide the business through “uncharted territory” as it implements an “entirely new kind of mass transportation system”. 

“We could not have found a more ideal candidate than Jay Walder for the next stage of the company’s development and the historic growth of this new industry,” he added.

On his appointment, Walder said: “I have focused my career on using technology to advance innovation in transportation, so I could not pass up the opportunity to lead the company that has pioneered hyperloop.”

READ: Virgin Hyperloop One in Saudi not 'cancelled' 

The shake-up at Virgin Hyperloop One came after former chairman Sir Richard Branson stepped down in October to focus on his philanthropic work.

Walder will not have much time to settle in to his new role, given the company wants to start construction of an 11km test track in India in Q1 2019. When the entire Pune to Mumbai project is finished, the hyperloop network will cut the time it takes to travel between the two Indian cities from approximately four hours to just 25 minutes. Once complete it will be the first commercial hyperloop system in the world.

In the Middle East, the business is making progress too after it completed a feasibility study with Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in 2017. The project looks set to move to the next phase –determining the preferred alignment route in the emirate.

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Construction Week - Issue 741
May 11, 2019