LONDON: Phase one of the world’s first commercial hyperloop system will be ready next year, says the boss of the company building the new transport system in the UAE.
Bibop Gresta, chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, said the first 10 km out of a 150 km stretch linking Abu Dhabi to Dubai and Al Ain will be completed in 2020 at a cost of $20 million to $40 million per kilometer.
The total cost of the 150 km system between Abu Dhabi and Dubai — the first of its kind in the world — is estimated to be between $3 billion and $6 billion but Gresta said it would recoup its costs within eight to 15 years.
He revealed the Abu Dhabi hyperloop capsule has already left Spain, where it was built, and is due to start tests in Toulouse, France on a prototype track.
Under an agreement signed last April with Aldar Properties of Abu Dhabi, Hyperloop will operate the rail system and construct a commercial center, research and development center, a visitor center and “innovation hub” on the Seih Al-Sdeirah landbank on the border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai emirates, close to both Al-Maktoum International Airport and the Expo 2020 site.
“It was a far-fetched dream but we are all excited now that it’s a dream coming true in the UAE in 2020,” Gresta told WAM, the official news agency of the UAE. “Basically, the Abu Dhabi Hyperloop system is right now past the feasibility study.”
The hyperloop consists of a pod propelled by electro-magnetic levitation at speeds of up to 1,123 km per hour, potentially reducing the traveling time between the two emirates to mere minutes.
Gresta insisted the system would become profitable quickly as it is simpler and lighter in design and uses less energy than conventional types of mass transport.
“It presents the ability to build a mass transit system that would not require government subsidies,” he said. “In regions where road and railway infrastructure is scarce, hyperloop can be a leap over 20th century technology directly into the 21st century. In regions with developed infrastructure, hyperloop can easily integrate and complement current and future road and rail networks.”
There are three hyperloop test tracks in the world — two in the US and one in Europe.
However a transport expert cast doubt on the timescale and warned the hyperloop could be sent into operation too soon.
“It’s the UAE, where they had the first drone police bike, the first drone taxi and every hyper car that exists,” said Stanford Ellis, publisher and editor of the website Transport Monthly.
“The hyperloop is quite viable as long as it’s done properly, but the UAE might push it along.”