By Bruce Upbin, Hyperloop One
The Russians were first to space with Sputnik and could be first again to transonic travel with the Hyperloop. Last week Hyperloop One and Russian holding company the Summa Group struck an agreement with the city of Moscow to explore building Hyperloop One systems in Russia’s capital region. The feasibility study is the next step toward developing a bankable plan and a rights of way that would get the funding to become Russia’s first Hyperloop. The deal was signed at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum by Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin, Summa Group chairman Ziyavudin Magomedov and Hyperloop One chairman and cofounder Shervin Pishevar.
Moscow is a city of 16 million with legendary traffic congestion and rents out of reach for many citizens. Hyperloop One’s on-demand transportation system could give capital region commuters weeks of their lives back by moving them out of cars and into Hyperloop One vehicles gliding at speeds north of 400 mph in low-pressure tubes powered by quiet electric propulsion. People could live affordably outside the city yet still get to work downtown in minutes.
The deal with the city of Moscow marks Hyperloop One’s fourth to date. Project scoping studies are underway in Finland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Engineering work is underway at a smooth clip and we’re still aiming for “Kitty Hawk” later this year: that moment when we demonstrate a complete system with pod, track, tube, non-contact levitation and propulsion in a vacuum (and braking).
Looping The New Silk Road
Summa Chairman Magomedov, a billionaire industrialist with infrastructure holdings across Russia, sees an equal and potentially far bigger opportunity to use freight Hyperloop networks. Summa's portfolio includes ports, telecom, energy and mining. Its Caspian VC investment group has a stake in Hyperloop One. “The implementation of Hyperloop technology provides tremendous benefits to the Russian Federation in terms of the geopolitical development of the intracontinental transit potential and building of an economically attractive alternative to the existing global logistics flows,” says Magomedov. “In the long term Hyperloop could catalyze the development of regional economic integration, including the Eurasian Economic Union and the Chinese initiative "One Belt - One Road” The initiative, often called the New Silk Road, is China’s grand vision of connecting through Central Asia to Europe through dedicated rails, highways and shipping lanes, providing all the infrastructure in between.
Russian transportation minister Maksim Sokolov, also at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, found what he says is a promising first location for Russia’s first Hyperloop: a 70-kilometer run between China’s mineral and manufacturing heavy Jilin province and Zarubino, a port on Russia’s Far Eastern coast. Zarubino still has a bucolic feel to it. Fifteen years from now, with decent global trade growth and a warming climate, Zarubino could grow into a bustling Hyperloop terminal—free of truck pollution--where Jilin carmakers ship containers of finished automobiles at cruising speeds of 700 mph to port-side cranes to be lifted onto ships for export.
Sokolov intends to co-fund the project with the Chinese. “We have a fund to support the Silk Road projects. I believe that this project may count on 100% co-financing from this fund,” he said. Discussions with the federal government are underway for a second feasibility study, with an agreement expected later this year. Russian news site RT.com quoted Sokolov saying that a 70-kilometer cargo Hyperloop in Russia’s Far East would cost $450 million to $607 million, less than half the price per mile of the 770-kilometer high-speed rail link planned between Moscow and Khazan that’s expected to cost $15 billion.
(Photo credit: kishjar? at flickr)