Virgin Hyperloop One proposes Texas routes for high-speed transportation

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Photo Credit: Ella Williams | Daily Texan Staff

Virgin Hyperloop One has identified Texas as a possible location for its high-speed transportation system.

The company hopes to implement a Dallas-Laredo-Houston route by the mid-2020s, said Ryan Kelly, head of marketing and communications for Virgin Hyperloop One. Austin and San Antonio will be on Hyperloop’s Texas route. According to Virgin Hyperloop One’s website, the route would take passengers from Dallas to Austin in about 25 minutes.

Kelly said the $15 billion project would use pod vehicles within low-pressure tubes moved by magnetic levitation to travel up to 670 miles per hour. The route would transport more than 16,000 passengers in an hour, and a single pod would hold about 20 passengers, Kelly said. 

“Connecting major cities with high-speed transportation would be game-changing,” Kelly said. “Traveling from San Antonio to Austin in 12 minutes (with Hyperloop) compared to the hour-long drive will create many opportunities for Texans.”

According to the company’s website, Hyperloop transportation was first introduced by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and combines existing technologies such as electric motors, the maglev train system and vacuum pumps. According to KXAN, there are no commercial Hyperloop systems currently operating, but the company is expecting to open the first system in Dubai in 2020.

 

“We are inherently safer than rails since we’re in enclosed environments with no weather delays and at-grade crossings of cars or other objects,” Kelly said. “We’re also 100% electric, which means no direct emission.”

Construction of Hyperloop systems in Texas for passenger use cannot begin until the transportation is approved by the federal government and a certification facility is built, said Kevin Feldt, program manager at North Central Texas Council of Governments. 

If certified, Feldt said he believes Hyperloop will bring economic opportunities for Texas and research experiences for students. 

“The real benefit is Texas becomes a leader in forward-thinking transportation, and a lot of research dollars and research efforts would be focused on the state of Texas,” Feldt said.

Mechanical engineering junior David Spitler is the head of engineering at Texas Guadaloop, a student organization building and testing Hyperloop technology. Spitler said Virgin Hyperloop One will allow students to travel within Texas faster.

“You could realistically be a commuter student in Dallas or Houston and commute to Austin every day for class,” Spitler said. “I can see how much opportunity and major change (Virgin Hyperloop One) could bring to transportation in Texas.”