Virgin Hyperloop to build certification center in West Virginia
Virgin Hyperloop has settled on a location for a new facility that will serve as a key stepping stone in the development of its next-generation transport system in the US. The Hyperloop Certification Center is to be built in West Virginia and will play host to the company’s testing and certification operations, as it seeks to get a commercial service up and running by the end of the decade.
For the past few years, Virgin Hyperloop has been developing its futurist transport technology at its full-scale test facility in the Nevada desert. It hopes to one day shuttle magnetically-levitating pods through near-vacuum at supersonic speeds, though its testing carried out so far has seen these capsules reach around 387 km/h (240 mph).
So there is a lot of work to do before its hyperloop dream is fully realized, and the newly announced Hyperloop Certification Center in West Virginia will be key to its progress. The facility will feature its own test track and be the center of the company’s work on the regulatory and commercial sides of its business. It is also expected to create thousands of jobs in the area.
“Today is a fantastic day for the state of West Virginia, and I’d like to be the first to officially welcome the folks from Virgin Hyperloop to their new home,” said Governor Jim Justice. “For years, I have been saying that West Virginia is the best kept secret on the East Coast, and it’s true. Just look at this announcement and all it will bring to our state – investment, jobs, and tremendous growth. It’s a true honor and privilege to be selected as the site for the Hyperloop Certification Center and lead the nation in this next step forward for transportation.
While much of its focus is on the US, Virgin Hyperloop is making inroads in many other countries as it tries to win over governments with its vision of high-speed transport networks. It has previously announced plans to build a connection between the Indian cities of Pune and Mumbai, a test track in Saudi Arabia and a $500 million development facility in Spain, to name a few examples.
Its stateside efforts are well advanced, however. The company has previously highlighted routes across the US that could massively reduce transport times through the country’s most heavily-frequented passages, and worked with the Missouri Department of Transportation on a potential 25-minute connection across the state.
The company says it hopes to achieve safety certification for the technology by 2025, and have commercial operations underway in 2030.
“Today is one of the most exciting days in Virgin Hyperloop’s history,” said Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group. “The Hyperloop Certification Center is the start of the hyperloop journey for West Virginia, for the United States, and for the world. We’re one step closer to making hyperloop travel a reality for people everywhere.”