Although we're yet to see a Hyperloop system hit its promised subsonic speeds, it is full steam ahead when it comes to route-planning and feasibility studies. Together with the local government, Richard Branson's Virgin Hyperloop One has today announced plans to build a 25-minute Hyperloop connection between the Indian cities of Pune and Mumbai, which is currently a two-hour trip by car.

A fully developed Hyperloop would see passenger and cargo pods travel through near-vacuum tubes at around 700 mph (1,126 km/h). Virgin Hyperloop One has its competitors, but it is the only Hyperloop company so far to build a full-scale test track, pod and shuttle it along at anything close to this velocity, with a 387 km/h (240 mph) effort in December its fastest run so far.

But the lack of a proven system doesn't appear to be a problem for the growing number of governments around the world forming agreements with the company. The city of Dubai, the state of Missouri and Russia are just a few examples of authorities getting onboard the Hyperloop One train, with feasibility studies already underway in those locations and India also having formed an agreement with rival Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

That deal seeks to develop a Hyperloop in the south-eastern state of Andhra Pradesh, connecting the cities of Amaravati and Vijayawada by way of a six-minute transport link rather than the hour it currently takes by car. The Pune to Mumbai link in India's western state of Maharashtra is seen as particularly important given the region's growth.

"Fifty-one percent of total investments in India have come to Maharashtra, and the state is attracting global investors," says Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "The state's overall development in the past few years is a shining example of change thinking and improving conditions in the country. Maharashtra government was ahead of all other Indian states in terms of infrastructure spend and the state is on its way to achieving its bold vision of a trillion dollar economy."

According to Virgin Hyperloop One, the 25-minute link between central Pune, Navi Mumbai International Airport and Mumbai would connect 26 million people and come to provide 150 million passenger trips a year. It says this could bring US$55 billion worth of socio-economic benefits over 30 years of operation and cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 150,000 tons a year.

These figures come from the company's pre-feasibility study. It will now move onto a deeper six-month feasibility study, and then onto a procurement phase to flesh out the public-private makeup of the project. A demonstration track will then be built over two or three years between two points along the route, and then eventually, a complete route between Pune and Mumbai will be built over the following five to seven years.

"I believe Virgin Hyperloop One could have the same impact upon India in the 21st century as trains did in the 20th century," says Virgin Hyperloop One Chairman Richard Branson. "The Pune-Mumbai route is an ideal first corridor as part of a national hyperloop network that could dramatically reduce travel times between India's major cities to as little as two hours. Virgin Hyperloop One can help India become a global transportation pioneer and forge a new world-changing industry."

Source: Virgin Hyperloop One

View gallery - 8 images