The Mumbai-Pune Hyperloop system is very much on the agenda of the Virgin Hyperloop One although the project has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The company’s Managing Director for the Middle East and India, Harj Dhaliwal in an interview to BusinessLine said that it is currently providing further information to the government prior to the launch of the competitive bidding process under the MahaIDEA Act & Rules. Excerpts:
What is the status of the proposed Mumbai-Pune hyperloop system?
We remain committed to India and committed to continuing to work with the Government of Maharashtra but given the Covid situation we understand that things are moving a bit slower than usual. We are talking to stakeholders about what this opportunity could provide for the State in terms of jobs and economic growth especially in these uncertain times. This private investment would be one of the largest in Maharashtra’s history and we look forward to bringing Hyperloop to the people of Mumbai and Pune.
We are currently providing further information to the government, at its request, prior to the launch of the competitive bidding process under the MahaIDEA Act & Rules. The project will create 1.8 million jobs over its lifetime and $36 billion in socio-economic benefits by creating a new, exportable industry in Maharashtra, and connecting millions with a transport network that will make Mumbai and Pune one economic mega-region.
What is the status of project finance, including Phase 1 Demonstration Track?
Our investment commitment to India is holistic and long-term, but also dependent on the projects’ progress and business potential. For example, the proposed Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop Project would be the largest privately-funded transport infrastructure project in India. As part of our proposal, we will build a 11-km section (Phase 1) to demonstrate full safety certification before proceeding to build the remaining route.
This is an unprecedented opportunity for Maharashtra, as this will attract an investment of $500 million into a high-tech facility that would create jobs and opportunities for local manufacturing. The commencement of Phase 2, will entail a further $10 billion of private investment in the State.
Since the Hyperloop system is new and never commercially tested in the world, therefore what will be the nature of regulatory compliance, it will have to adhere in India?
As a new mode which transcends the plane, train, and car categories, Hyperloop doesn’t fit cleanly into the regulatory guidelines of any existing modes. We have to demonstrate our safety case to regulators and are committed to working with them to develop a new regulatory framework.
In the US, the announcement of the Hyperloop Certification Center builds off significant regulatory progress around the globe.
In India, the Government of Maharashtra has deemed hyperloop a public infrastructure project and approved the Virgin Hyperloop-DP World Consortium as the Original Project Proponent.
Will the Hyperloop be commercially successful in India?
It’s simple – if it’s not affordable, people won’t use it. We are looking to build something that will expand opportunities for the masses, so they can live in one city and work in another.
The exact ticket price will vary for each route, but a recent study showed that riding a Hyperloop in Missouri could cost less than the gas needed to drive the route. Each route in a different part of the world is uniquely designed and has its own constraints. This is exactly why we conduct feasibility studies, detailed project reports, and similar analyses for each route under review.