Construction on a test version of Elon Musk’s transportation brainchild known as the Hyperloop is expected to begin in the next few weeks in Kings County, California. The two year project is a precursor to the planned 400 mile loop linking LA and San Francisco, but the first long distance route will more likely be seen overseas due to the difficulty of obtaining permits to build from existing property owners.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), the firm responsible for the California project, has stated that beginning next year it will be pursuing other projects overseas, including within the Middle East.
CEO of HTT, Dick Ahlborn, commented on the disparity between the California project and elsewhere, “It’s obviously easier to do these things in countries that are emerging, that are just coming up than in a city like L.A. Rideaway is obviously always a big issue. Even though the Hyperloop has the advantage that it can go along existing rideaway, it’s less invasive, but you still have to convince people to let you on their property.”
The Kings County facility is expected to cost $150 million and once completed will begin manned test runs at 160 mph, which is sluggish compared to the design’s 780 mph projected top speed. Higher speed runs will only be done using empty cars. Even during the lower speed tests, passengers will experience significant g-forces, which are expected to be comparable to those felt by Formula 1 drivers.
The planned LA-San Francisco hyperloop has a cost estimate of $6 billion and would drastically undercut the cost of Phase 1 to California’s High Speed Rail project, which is already expected to exceed its original budget of $68 billion, despite having just begun construction this year.
Musk has criticized the high speed rail project for its comparatively slow top speed of 220 mph, as well as its high cost per mile of track.
Ahlborn expressed optimism for the new technology, while lamenting the fact that the transportation industry has not changed in over half a century, “The last invention in personal transport was in the 1950s with the commercial airlines came out and since then it has been more or less the same.”