Transportation time between Beijing and Shanghai could shorten significantly, if tech magnate Elon Musk’s wild idea about next-generation travel, or transporting passengers in capsules, becomes a reality.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc, a United States-based company that specializes in supersonic transportation systems, is considering a hyperloop project between Beijing and Shanghai.
“We are speaking with certain parties in China,” said Bibop G. Gresta, deputy chairman of HTT, on Tuesday. “In terms of the distance and the density of travelers, the trip from Beijing to Shanghai is one of the most ideal routes to build a hyperloop project.”
The concept of the hyperloop project is to let passengers travel in a low-pressure tube at the speed of sound. Once applied, the project in theory can reduce the 1,500-km, two-hour Beijing-Shanghai flight trip time by half.
“Each tube can transport 24 million people a year and we plan to have seven tubes. Basically, we can transport seven times more people from Beijing to Shanghai than flights,” said Gresta on the sidelines of the 2015 Global Innovator Conference in Beijing.
He declined to offer more details, but said he will visit Shanghai later this week to meet potential partners. “We have started discussions, but we can’t disclose with whom,” said Gresta.
But it remains unclear if the government would support the project. China has been enthusiastic in building self-developed high-speed railways and exporting the technology to other markets.
Wang Mengshu, a tunnel and railway expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told China Daily that the hyperloop is still in the realm of dreams.
Wang’s major concern is about the safety of the capsules. “Some airplanes are capable of traveling at more than 1,000 km per hour. They don’t do so, because it is dangerous. I don’t think the hyperloop is technologically and economically feasible,” Wang said.
China operates the world’s longest high-speed railway network. The total operating mileage will be about 20,000 km by the end of this year. A typical high-speed train travels at around 300 km per hour.
Comments from the Ministry of Railways were not available on Wednesday.
The route from Beijing to Shanghai－each hosts at least 20 million residents－is one of the busiest in the world. Currently, every six minutes, a high-speed train sets out to connect the two cities but this still fails to catch up with the growing traffic demand.
According to Gresta, the company is also speaking with potential partners in India and Indonesia for possible cooperation. “In Indonesia, we are in advanced rounds of discussions,” he said.
In February, the company announced a full-scale passenger version of the hyperloop in Quay Valley, California, with construction slated to begin in mid-2016. The company hopes the line will open for passengers in the third quarter of 2018. The average running speed on this line will be lower than 1,200 km per hour.
Author: Wang Fan