Transport of the future? Europe’s longest hyperloop centre opens


‘BARF RIDE’

SpaceX and Tesla tycoon Elon Musk brought hyperloop into popular culture with a 2013 paper proposing a “fifth mode of transport” linking San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Mr Musk said a hyperloop tube could link the two cities in around 30 minutes, compared to up to six hours by road or one hour by plane.

Since then, several cities around the world have toyed with the idea, research projects have gobbled up millions of dollars, but hyperloop has still yet to get off the ground.

British businessman Richard Branson sent two passengers 500m in the Nevada desert in 2020, but his Virgin Hyperloop firm, which later became Hyperloop One, folded late last year.

But testing and research remains intense — China has a longer facility allowing them to reach speeds of nearly 700kmh, said Mr Lamme.

Supporters say the hyperloop produces no pollution, no noise, and blends into the background both in urban and countryside environments.

“The energy consumption of the hyperloop as a transportation mode is much lower (than others),” said Mr Marinus Van der Meijs, technology and engineering director at Hardt Hyperloop.

“It also requires less space to operate because we have these tubes that can easily be placed underground or elevated. So we have a lower infrastructure footprint” the 33-year-old told AFP.

Critics say the technology is pie in the sky and questions remain about the passenger experience of being fired through a narrow tunnel at close to the speed of sound.

Transport blogger Alon Levy famously described Mr Musk’s initial proposal as a “barf ride”.

But Mr Van der Meijs said the acceleration should not feel very different to a high-speed train.

“The passengers will be going faster, but it’s all about the forces. It’s similar to an aircraft. When it’s up in the air and travelling at a constant speed, you don’t feel it.”

“We will make it a very comfortable ride,” said Mr Lamme.

“You could imagine a capsule with a nice ceiling which might display stars or a nice sunny day. Especially, when you get in, you’ll get to your destination in a very short time.” AFP



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