RIYADH: A groundbreaking study will be conducted to build the world’s longest hyperloop track, the Ministry of Transport announced on Thursday.
It said an agreement with Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO), the world’s leading hyperloop company, would see a groundbreaking pre-feasibility study conducted on the use of hyperloop technology, laying the groundwork for a network of routes across Saudi Arabia.
The study is the first to be carried out anywhere in the world and will examine viable routes, expected demand, anticipated costs and explore the socioeconomic impact, such as the creation of jobs and environmental effects.
Speaking to Arab News, Harj Dhaliwal, VHO’s managing director for the Middle East, who signed the agreement with Khaled Al-Romaih, deputy minister for planning and information at the Ministry of Transport, said: “This is the first step, we want to create a solid foundation. The agreement with the ministry brings us one step closer to the realization of our vision for a connected Saudi Arabia and a connected Gulf.
“We have a vision for the Kingdom, and that vision is of connecting it and the Gulf with the ability to travel from Riyadh to Jeddah in 46 minutes, to Neom from Jeddah in 40 minutes, from Riyadh to Dammam and Jubail in 28 minutes, and to go beyond the Kingdom, from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi, in 48 minutes.
“It’s not just about providing a future transportation system, it’s the ecosystem behind it. What we want to do is to be able to bring technology to the Kingdom to be able to share and develop that knowledge. We signed an agreement with King Abdullah Economic City in October last year specifically to look at manufacturing, how we can actually bring technology, and that is expected to create about 124,000 jobs.”
Saudi Minister of Transport Saleh Al-Jasser said: “Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has outlined the role of transport in shaping the future of the Kingdom’s economy within Vision 2030. As we enter a new decade, we intend to make rapid progress in building the infrastructure required to define mobility for the future, enabling the efficient movement of people and goods. With the transformative hyperloop technology, Saudi Arabia will not only unlock unparalleled benefits for its people and the economy but will continue to lead the region into an era of prosperity.”
Technology would play a pivotal role in the progress and transformation of the Saudi economy, added VHO Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem.
Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One, said: “The economic potential is enormous to connect passengers and cargo at unprecedented speeds with zero direct emissions. The system would be up to 10 times more energy efficient than short haul flights and 50 percent more efficient than high-speed trains. In fact, a hyperloop in the region could be powered entirely by solar panels which cover the tube, making the technology hugely attractive to the sun-abundant Kingdom.”