Saudi Ministry, Virgin Hyperloop One to study hyperloop networks
"The system will be up to 10 times more energy efficient than short haul flights and 50% more efficient than high-speed trains"
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Transport (MoT) and Los Angeles-based ultra-high-speed transport technology firm Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO) have signed an agreement to conduct a pre-feasibility study on the use of hyperloop technology for the transport of passengers and cargo.
The agreement is expected to lay the groundwork for the consideration of a network of hyperloop routes across the kingdom.
The study will be the first of its kind on the national level to be carried out anywhere in the world and will examine viable routes, expected demand, anticipated costs, and explore the socio-economic benefits of creating jobs and developing high-tech skills.
It will also serve as a blueprint for future hyperloop projects and build on the developer’s long-standing relationship with the kingdom, which peaked when HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, viewed VHO’s passenger pod during a visit to the US.
Commenting on the announcement, the Minister of Transport, HE Eng Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, said: “As we enter a new decade, we intend to make rapid progress in building the infrastructure required to define mobility for the future, enabling the efficient movement of people and goods. With the transformative hyperloop technology, Saudi Arabia will not only unlock unparalleled benefits for its people and the economy but will continue to lead the region into an era of prosperity.”
Having already attracted major investors from the UAE, including VHO’s main investor, DP World, as well as others such as Abu Dhabi Capital Group, a hyperloop system would see passengers travel at speeds exceeding 1,000km/h, cutting the travel time from the capital to Jeddah to 46 minutes.
In addition, a journey from Riyadh to Qiddiya would take only 5 minutes. Similarly, a trip from Jeddah to NEOM could be completed in 40 minutes, and from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi in only 48 minutes.
Commenting on the transformation potential of the hyperloop technology, the chief executive officer of Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO), Jay Walder, said: “In line with Vision 2030, I am confident we will see the world’s first commercial hyperloop within the decade. The Kingdom is on the forefront of this new era in transportation by being the first in the world to explore a national hyperloop route.
Walder added: “The economic potential is enormous to connect passengers and cargo at unprecedented speeds with zero direct emissions. The system would be up to 10 times more energy efficient than short haul flights and 50% more efficient than high-speed trains. In fact, a hyperloop in the region could be powered entirely by solar panels which cover the tube, making the technology hugely attractive to the sun-abundant kingdom.”
The chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One, HE Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, concluded: “Together with the Ministry of Transport, we are confident that hyperloop technology will transform the movement of people and cargo in Saudi Arabia and help realise the ambitions of Vision 2030. The evolution of hyperloop offers an unparalleled opportunity to shape a connected Saudi Arabia, linking cities and nations in the region via a variety of routes.”