Hyperloop Could Be Coming To The UK

People walk through a Hyperloop tube in Las Vegas, Nevada. David Becker/Getty Images

Hyperloop, everyone’s favorite futuristic method of transportation first proposed by Elon Musk, may be coming to the UK, according to WIRED. Before you break into festivities, be warned – this hasn’t been confirmed, only proposed. Mind you, the proposal came from Alan James, global vice-president of business development at Hyperloop One, one of two companies working on the vacuum tube-based system.

Before joining his current company, he previously lobbied for UK Ultraspeed, a proposed maglev network similar to the one being pioneered in both China and Japan, which would link major UK cities together. Now, he’s revealed that he would be very keen to bring Hyperloop to the UK after engaging in constructive talks with both government officials and private employees.

An organization named Innovate UK, sponsored by the UK government, is taking the lead on building a Hyperloop on the British Isles. The track would probably run between London and Manchester at first. Travel time between the two cities would be a mere 18 minutes.

“Hyperloop could connect all the great cities of the English north not just to London, but to each other,” James told WIRED. “Making Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, effectively a single city, for instance.”

Instead of using high-rise pylons to power the tunnel, as has been seen during its recent successful test runs in the Nevada desert, the engineering company ARUP suggests that tunnels should be used in the more forested, densely-packed UK landscape.

James goes on to suggest that, just like his earlier maglev project, Hyperloop would be a cost-effective, efficient, and overall cheaper alternative to HS2, a controversial high-speed railway project that has seen numerous delays and budgetary kerfuffles.

“With [HS2], we could reduce the journey time from London to Stoke from one hour 24 minutes to around one hour,” he noted. “With Hyperloop, we can reduce it to around 14 minutes.”

Concept art of the type of Hyperloop that could be appearing in the UK...eventually. Hyperloop One

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), the second Los Angeles-based group attempting to beat Hyperloop One at its own game, has also said it has been talking to the UK government. A spokesperson said that they were told the $67 million would be available to them through Innovate UK if they pushed ahead with their project to demonstrate its viability, but the government did not comment on this.

Hyperloop One’s test back in May of this year showed the world the basics of how the pod would travel. Ultimately, they aim to transport humans through vacuum-sucked tubes across huge distances at speeds of 1,220 kilometers per hour (760 miles per hour), but a lot of work is needed before this is achieved.

Still, this test followed on from some investments from both Slovakia and France, two other nations very interested in this technology. With the UK also on board, a future where Hyperloop becomes a genuine rival to air travel across Europe isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.

In fact, it’s almost certain to happen, but it’s anyone’s guess as to when the very first public Hyperloop will open for business – or where it’ll be initially based. Hyperloop One ambitiously hope for a fully-operational version by 2020.

First proposed by Elon Musk in 2013, he calculated that a journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco would take just 36 minutes. Being busy with Tesla, trying to get to Mars, and raising his five kids, he made his plans public in the hope others would take the baton and run with it. Through scandal, multiple false starts, lawsuits, drama, and very different company ethoses, Hyperloop One and HTT have begun to pave the way for a future that pretty much everyone wants to see become a reality.

Construction is underway in the US. Hyperloop One

[H/T: WIRED]

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