Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru

Mangaluru, Mar 7: Imagine travelling at a whizzing speed of over 1,000 km an hour from Mangaluru, such that you reach Mumbai in a matter of less than 50 minutes. Sounds impossible? Not if the latest proposal to upgrade the country's transportation system takes wings, in Mangaluru's favour.

The country is abuzz with talks of Hyperloop One, an American company, proposing to set up a transport network in at least one of the four routes connecting major cities and economic hubs of the country, as part of the union government's Make in India initiative. And it is no ordinary transport project. The company proposes to introduce the high-speed, tube-based rail system, where 'pods' designed to transport both freight and passengers, levitate magnetically instead of using wheels, in a controlled environment. Bottomline, with Hyperloop tubes, you can travel at the speed faster than an airplane, but at a much cheaper price.

Even as the country awaits bullet trains, the Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One has offered India what the world is yet to even experience. India was apparently selected through a global challenge, where there were 35 semi-finalists including five from India. "India led the way with highest registrations and had the most vocal supporters of Hyperloop One on social media," Hyperloop One said in a media release.

The company has proposed five routes to be set up, but only one of them will be built, at least initially. Which of those five would be constructed will depend on various factors, including an open poll for the public. The decision is likely to be taken by the end of this year, after conducting market feasibility study.

The proposed routes are: Delhi-Jaipur-Indore-Mumbai; Mumbai-Pune-Kolhapur-Hubballi-Tumakuru-Bengaluru-Hosur-Vellore-Sriperumbudur-Chennai; Mumbai-Mangaluru-Chennai-Hyderabad-Kolkata; and Bengaluru-Coimbatore-Kochi-Thiruvananthpuram.

According to Hyperloop India website, the Mumbai-Bengaluru-Chennai corridor is the most ideal choice for the project, as it would best serve the objectives of integrating existing industrial/freight corridors, maximizing opportunities for passenger and cargo transport, linking high-potential markets in fast-growing urban agglomerations, etc, and situated in areas with low seismic activity.

Nevertheless, Mangaluru, being an important port city with air and rail connectivity, could well find a place in the network, as basically, the project aims not only at providing faster travel to passengers, but facilitate quick movement of freight.

"Although we would like to see the entire country live the Hyperloop Dream, we have to understand that we need to proceed step-wise. As part of our initial step, we will take inspiration from the government of India’s live project: The government’s “Make in India” initiative is a growth strategy based upon development of economic corridors whereby policy initiatives to spur manufacturing and overall growth are coordinated with transport corridors linking both developed and backward regions. The vision is to create a globally competitive manufacturing sector supported by world class infrastructure, logistics facilities, and a liberal policy regime. This scheme can serve as the much needed gateway that Hyperloop needs to enter India," the company website states.

Explaining how the technology would work, Hyperloop One says, "The Hyperloop is a new way to move people or things anywhere in the world quickly, safely, efficiently, on-demand and with minimal impact to the environment. The system accelerates a passenger or cargo vehicle through a steel tube in a near-vacuum using that linear electric motor. The autonomous vehicles glide comfortably at faster-than-airline speeds over long distances due to the extremely low aerodynamic drag and non-contact levitation. There are no direct emissions, noise, delay, weather concerns nor pilot error. By eliminating the three fundamental things that prevent modern transportation from reaching its full potential – air resistance, friction and energy dependency on the grid/fossil fuels – the Hyperloop seeks to change the way humans think about transportation."

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has already expressed interest in the idea, and according to reports, his ministry is already exploring the project. "India would be keenly watching the project. We all are living in exciting times. India is thinking of ways to revamp its railway network by various means like increasing the average speeds as well as developing specific high-speed corridors," Prabhu said.

The company is expected to run the world's first full-system test later this year in Nevada, USA. The UAE too is in line to get Hyperloop network, that would minimise the travel time, for instance, between Abu Dhabi and Dubai to a mere 12 minutes.

Vote now

In its Facebook page, Hyperloop has opened a poll for the public to vote for their most preferred corridor, out of the five listed earlier, on which it would execute the project. Readers can vote by logging on to https://www.facebook.com/HyperloopOne/