Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Of All the Mooted New Transport Modes to Shift Freight in the Future This One May Actually Work

Forget the Niche Markets of Airships and Drones the Hyperloop Has Real Potential for Wider Use
Shipping News Feature
INDIA – US – WORLDWIDE – There are always those random modes of transport which every now and again are suggested as a panacea for shifting goods to almost anywhere, and just as supporters can be most vocal, so detractors can denigrate with equal force. We have airships and drones for example, both excellent for certain limited functions when it comes to carrying freight, heavy loads to remote comparatively windless areas for one, small urgent supplies like medical essentials to a ship at sea for the other. One idea however persists and still shows much potential for both cargo and passenger links - the Hyperloop.

As we follow the progress of this latest transport mode we are still at the earliest stage of development, however the potential, once again particularly in certain scenarios, is obvious. The leading project is now headed up with Richard Branson’s famous brand, one is to hope it makes faster progress that his ambitions for space flight, but Virgin Hyperloop One is now being taken seriously in several locations.

In Ohio the technology is to be included in a federally-required Environmental Impact Study, marking the first time Hyperloop will be considered as a transportation mode in such a process. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) announced that this step will be taken as part of its Rapid-Speed Transportation Initiative (RSTI), which will include both a feasibility and environmental impact studies. The Environmental Impact Study (EIS) will include researching passenger rail and identifying investment needs to improve freight flows and freight rail congestion between Chicago, Columbus, and Pittsburgh.

The reality is of course that, whilst the US may one day prove to be a rich market for a mode of transport which ‘combines the speed of an airplane, the capacity of rail, the convenience of a car, and the comfort of an elevator’, there are likely to be faster developing markets where geography may prove ideal as a real life test bed for the technology (it is no coincidence that two of the most senior executives of DP World sit on the Virgin Hyperloop board).

As we have detailed previously there is a serious intention to construct a useable Hyperloop system in India and at a recent event the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri. Devendra Fadnavis, and representatives from the State Government including the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) paid a visit to the DevLoop test site to witness a full-scale Hyperloop in action.

The intention is for the Hyperloop route to link central Pune, Navi Mumbai International Airport, and Mumbai, a journey of some 25-minutes, with the ability to connect 26 million people living in the region. The Hyperloop ambition is to eventually support 150 million passenger trips annually, saving more than 90 million hours of travel time, and providing citizens with greater opportunities and social and economic mobility. The prize for a successful completion is indeed a rich one.