With the flagship Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train of the BJP government being put on the back burner by the newly formed Uddhav Thackeray led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, the Chairman of Virgin Hyperloop, Richard Branson, is set to meet the Chief Minister to discuss the details of the ambitious Mumbai-Pune Hyperloop One, and clear “misunderstandings”.
“It is just a courtesy call and also to ensure that any misunderstandings regarding the project are cleared,” Branson told reporters in Mumbai on Wednesday (December 11).
“When there is a change in administration and you’ve a big project going on, it is important to have a courtesy call. Uddhav Thackeray and the various coalition people that he has around them need to meet people who are doing big projects or those wanting to do big projects in their state,” PTI quoted the British billionaire and founder of the Virgin Group as saying.
Explained: What is Hyperloop?
It is a next-generation travel system that uses pods or capsules travelling at high speeds through low-pressure tubes erected on columns or tunneled underground using magnetic levitation. The system is fully autonomous and sealed, so no driver-related error is anticipated.
In a sealed environment with almost no air resistance, the pods are expected to reach very high speeds. The top speed could reach over 700 mph or 1,125 km/h, more than two and a half times the top speed of the world’s fastest train, the Shanghai Maglev (267 mph or 430 km/h), and some 200 mph faster than the cruising speed of a commercial jetliner (460-575 mph/740-925 km/h)
What was the Branson plan for which he had signed an MoU with the previous Devendra Fadnavis government?
Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One proposed a hyperloop between Mumbai and Pune, which would reduce the travel time between the two cities to just 25 minutes from the existing three hours. It would link central Pune, Navi Mumbai International Airport, and Mumbai. It was pitched as a plan with potential to transport 26 million people and make 159 million passenger trips per year.
The route would be 100 per cent electric, which means a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions up to 86,000 tonnes over 30 years. The project involves construction across a length of 117.5 km; an initial testing track of 11.8 km was to be constructed in the first phase from Pune’s Hinjewadi.
What did the Maharashtra government do to take forward the proposal?
It was categorised as a “public infrastructure project”, and received Cabinet clearance to speed up land acquisition for the testing track. The Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority was assigned the task of overseeing the implementation of the first phase.
The government also decided to use the “Swiss challenge” method for the bidding of the project. That means the first bidder would be challenged by other global bidders, and in order to stay in the game, would have to match those bids. The method is normally used for unsolicited bids for public infrastructure projects.