Virgin Hyperloop, the long-anticipated superfast passenger train that promised speeds of up to 1,080 kilometers per hour (670 miles per hour), has made the decision to no longer transport passengers and instead focus solely on cargo. The decision comes after the company laid off 111 employees – almost half of its staff – which it blamed on the pandemic and global supply chain issues.
The announcement was made to the Financial Times, stating that the decision was to cut costs and respond to increasing demand for freight transport.
“It’s allowing the company to respond in a more agile and nimble way and in a more cost-efficient manner,” Virgin Hyperloop told the Financial Times.
“These types of decisions are never taken lightly.”
The Hyperloop was a concept dreamt up by Elon Musk, in which a sealed pod is propelled through a vacuum chamber as it levitates over magnetic tracks. Doing so essentially removes air resistance and friction acting on the pod, allowing it to reach speeds and efficiencies far greater than traditional rail.
Virgin tested their pod design with crew on board in November 2020, which was a resounding success, and suggested their hyperloop would be able to transport people between US cities in a fraction of the time.
According to the Financial Times, Virgin said their cargo Hyperloop should be ready in approximately four years. If profits allow, they may then reinvest in the transport of passengers.