Hyper­loop startup eyes test fa­cil­ity in Al­berta

Site near Cal­gary could see 10-kilo­me­tre piece of track op­er­a­tional by 2020

Edmonton Journal - - CITY + REGION -

A Toronto startup that aims to have an op­er­at­ing hyper­loop sys­tem in Canada as early as 2025 wants to build a test track in Al­berta, and is in­ter­ested in one day build­ing an Edmonton-Cal­gary link.

The tech­nol­ogy would al­low pas­sen­gers to travel in a bul­let-shaped craft through a tube at speeds of around 1,000 kilo­me­tres per hour, four times faster than high-speed rail.

Tran­sPod is bid­ding for pro­vin­cial and city sup­port for a four- to 10-kilo­me­tre-long test track on pub­lic land near Cal­gary.

If granted and suf­fi­cient funds are raised, Tran­sPod CEO Se­bastien Gen­dron said the track could be op­er­a­tional by 2020, the tech­nol­ogy could be fi­nal­ized by 2022 and the first com­mer­cial sys­tem could be in place be­tween 2025 and 2030.

Hyper­loop is a tech­nol­ogy pro­moted by Tesla founder Elon Musk which would place pas­sen­gers and cargo in a cylin­dri­cal ve­hi­cle that ac­cel­er­ates via elec­tric propul­sion through a low-air-pres­sure tube, sus­pended above the track us­ing mag­netic lev­i­ta­tion. The ve­hi­cles are ex­pected to glide at air­line speeds for long dis­tances due to ul­tra-low aero­dy­namic drag.

Gen­dron is con­fi­dent the pub­lic will em­brace the tech­nol­ogy.

“We al­ready travel at that speed with an air­craft and the main dif­fer­ence with our sys­tem is we are on the ground,” he said. “And it’s safer to be on the ground than in the air.”

He added Tran­sPod is talk­ing with the fed­eral trans­porta­tion depart­ment to en­sure safety reg­u­la­tions are in place for when the tech­nol­ogy is ready to be im­ple­mented.

A Toronto-Mon­treal route was the only Cana­dian win­ner among 10 en­tries cho­sen from hundreds in an in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion spon­sored by Los An­ge­les-based Hyper­loop One, which has a work­ing hyper­loop test sys­tem in the Ne­vada desert.

It could cut travel time be­tween the cities from five hours to just 39 min­utes.

Hyper­loop One’s nine other win­ning en­tries in­cluded four in the United States, two in each of the United King­dom and In­dia, and one in Mex­ico. All are now be­ing stud­ied to de­ter­mine com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity.

Gen­dron said he agrees the Toronto-Mon­treal cor­ri­dor is suit­able for a sys­tem be­cause traf­fic is heavy and there is no ex­ist­ing high­speed ground travel al­ter­na­tive for trav­ellers.

But he said Tran­sPod is also in­ter­ested in the Cal­gary-Edmonton cor­ri­dor.

A hyper­loop ticket from Edmonton to Cal­gary would cost $60 to $80, one way.

He es­ti­mates it would cost $25 mil­lion to $29 mil­lion to build a kilo­me­tre of Tran­sPod track, about half of the cost of a high­speed rail line.

The win­ning Hyper­loop One con­test route as pro­posed by the Cana­dian arm of U.S. engi­neer­ing firm AECOM would in­clude a stop in Ottawa.

The pro­posal sug­gests a trip from Toronto to Ottawa would take 27 min­utes and the Ottawa-Mon­treal leg would take an­other 12 min­utes.

It says the next log­i­cal step would be to ex­tend the hyper­loop sys­tem into the U.S., west to Detroit from Wind­sor, Ont., and east from Que­bec to Niagara Falls and Buf­falo and on to­ward Chicago, New York and Bos­ton.

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