Back in the day, you'd end up spending five hours driving 150 kilometres from Mumbai to Pune. That dropped to three hours once the Mumbai-Pune expressway went live. Now, in a move that could cut travel time between the two cities to a mere 25 minutes, the Maharashtra government announced on Sunday that it has entered into a framework agreement with Virgin Hyperloop One to construct a hyperloop route connecting Mumbai and Pune by 2025.
Post conducting a feasibility study (which will define the final route and cost of the project) Hyperloop One will first build a demonstration test track between two points on the proposed route, completion of which should take around two to three years from the signing of the agreement. The full route - linking Mumbai, the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport and Pune - is expected to go live in the next seven years. In the future, there could be another channel for light cargo movement, linking central Pune with the New Pune International Airport, and the Jawaharlal Nehru Port, in Mumbai, with Pune’s industrial economic zones.
As per its pre-feasibility study, Hyperloop One claims the new route could result in socio-economic benefits of over Rs 3,50,000 crore (accounting for time savings, emissions and accident reduction, operational cost savings, etc) over 30 years of operation. Additionally, the company expects the hyperloop route to ease expressway congestion and cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 150,000 tonnes on a yearly basis.
If you're curious about how this works, Hyperloop One proposes to transport passengers and cargo by loading them into a fully autonomous pod, which accelerates gradually using electric propulsion in a low-pressure tube. Magnetic levitation lifts the pod, which will then glide at speeds of over 1,000kph, benefiting from ultra-low aerodynamic drag and cutting travel times considerably. And if you're wondering about ticket costs, Hyperloop states that it intends to make this form of transport "affordable for everyone".