Three Indian states think it’s time to include some bold thinking in transport planning: hyperloop. Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, home to several of India’s largest economic centers including Mumbai and Bengaluru, are conducting studies with Hyperloop One to understand hyperloop’s feasibility and economic impact in the regions.
If hyperloop networks were established and linked among all three states, India could create a nationwide network that would enable travel within major cities in India in under two hours. This network could create the largest connected urban area in the world by linking nearly 75+ million people across the three states.
“Imagine the potential impact on people’s lives and commerce if travel between Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, and Amaravati could take place in under two hours. Hyperloop could change the face of India just as trains did during the Industrial Revolution,” said Nick Earle, SVP of Global Field Operations, Hyperloop One.
India has had a successful track-record of leapfrogging into new technologies. When mobile services were launched in the mid-1990s, the country moved directly to second generation (2G) technologies and rapidly rolled-out wireless, particularly in unconnected, rural communities. They continued this progression by embracing 4G over 3G. Now India now counts itself amongst the largest telecom markets in the world with more than billion subscribers and 80% mobile penetration. Wireless adoption has been a boon economically with the country realizing a 3.3 percent increase in GDP for every ten percent increase in mobile usage.
Hyperloop presents an opportunity for India to leapfrog again and address weaknesses in its transportation infrastructure. With speeds 2-3 times faster than high-speed rail, hyperloop can connect far-flung Indian cities as if they were metro stops, and offer energy-efficient, on-demand, and cost-effective transport at aircraft speeds.
The three states believe that hyperloop could improve global competitiveness, reduce congestion and emissions, and provide citizens with better social and economic mobility. While the studies underway would identify potential routes in each state, there are plenty of opportunities within each state where hyperloop could make a difference.
Andhra Pradesh: Connecting A New Capital Amaravati
Andhra Pradesh is a state rich in resources, skilled professionals, and has a strategic location bordering five states and the Bay of Bengal. In 2014, the north-west portion of Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated to form a new state of Telangana. The long-time state capital, Hyderabad, was transferred to Telangana and Amaravati was named the new capital of Andhra Pradesh. The state government is heavily focused on growing its new capital city which is isolated from existing infrastructure, including airports and seaports, and other cities in the region. Hyperloop is uniquely suited to help address the city’s isolation.
Today, the closest airport to Amaravati is in Vijayawada, a 90-minute to two-hour drive on small, congested roads. Hyperloop could help connect Amaravati’s city center to the airport in about five minutes, a critical connection to drive business, tourism, and trade for the new capital. Additionally, Hyperloop could connect the capital with major economic hubs such as Vizag and eventually Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bengaluru. An ultra-fast connection could enable journeys between Amaravati and Visakhapatnam in 27 minutes, and Bengaluru in 45 minutes. These connections would enable daily commutes from regional metros and other states without the need for talent to move to the emerging capital initially.
Maharashtra: Bolstering Infrastructure Innovation By Linking Mumbai to Pune & Beyond
Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital Mumbai, has a strong tradition of innovative infrastructure investments. Mumbai has the busiest commuter rail system in the world and transports 7.6 million people every day, equivalent to the entire population of Sierra Leone. The state also introduced the first six-lane highway in the country and is the process of adding a second airport in Mumbai. Hyperloop could help address several critical needs in the state.
Today, more than 90,000 cars travel daily between Pune and Mumbai on the Mumbai Pune Expressway, a 140-kilometer journey that can take upwards of two to three hours. Hyperloop could reduce this lengthy commute to about 14 minutes. An eventual extension to Nagpur would vastly improve economic connections and freight transport between interior and coast.
Hyperloop could also help to streamline air travel within Maharashtra. Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport is experiencing passenger demand growth at 20% and will be at capacity by next year. Mumbai is building Navi Mumbai International airport over 40-kilometers east of the city. It is expected to open by 2020 away from the city’s worst congestion, but rising delays everywhere will hamper access. With a hyperloop connection, travelers could be at whichever airport is closest and quickly transfer to the other. Connecting the airports via hyperloop would create a mega-airport capable of eventually serving over 100 million passengers. Additionally, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje International Airport is set to be built 40-kilometers outside of Pune’s city center. Hyperloop could connect this airport to the city center in minutes and integrate the airport with the city’s public transportation.
Karnataka: Supporting Technology & Innovation Sectors in Bengaluru
As India’s hub for technology and innovation, Karnataka is looking to improve infrastructure and support its growing manufacturing, technology, and scientific research industries. Urban sprawl has had a tremendous impact on the state, particularly in Bengaluru (often known as Bangalore). The city’s 10 million citizens lose 600 million hours due to road congestion where the average vehicle speed creaks along at 11 kilometers per hour. Hyperloop holds the potential to link Bengaluru’s city center, IT hubs on the city’s periphery, and improving connections between fast-growing industrial hubs within the state such as Tumakuru, Hubli-Dharwad, and Hosur. These connections could enable citizens to commute ten times farther in the same amount of time.
Hyperloop can speed passenger and cargo transport in the region including, particularly between Bengaluru and Chennai. Passenger demand between the two cities is expected to grow from 8 million trips per year to 135 million by 2035. Seven out of ten of those trips are for business. Cargo demand between the two cities is set to increase from 10.5 million tons per year to 65 million tons in the same time frame, 90 percent moved via roads. Hyperloop could connect the two cities as well as cities in between creating an economic megaregion. Freight can speed from the port in Chennai to inland terminals, enabling on-demand shipments in minutes vs. hours or even days.
Constructing hyperloops would have a direct impact on the local economy. While Hyperloop One builds the core technology at the heart of the hyperloop, the company would rely on a broader Indian-based ecosystem of partners to build, operate, and maintain the systems.
“Investments in Hyperloop One systems will create local jobs in construction, manufacturing, research and development, and services and can have a profound secondary impact on wider industries in India. It is is a win-win,” continued Earle. “As the only company in the world that has built and tested a full-scale, full-system hyperloop we believe we are an ideal partner for India.”