Virgin Hyperloop One announced today that it is officially adding India to the list of nations that have expressed interest in near-supersonic, tube-based travel.
The company, which recently changed its name after Virgin Group’s Richard Branson came on as an investor, signed agreements with the governments of Maharashtra and Karnataka to begun studying the impact of a hyperloop in the region. The feasibility studies have implications for India’s giant cities like Mumbai and Bangalore, as well as fast-growing urban centers like Pune and Nagpur.
The agreements are signs that despite its lack of a commercial product or human-ready testing, Virgin Hyperloop One has shown a tenacity for securing agreements with willing government partners. The company recently announced 10 winning submissions in a long-running contest to find what it believes to be the best places to build the first hyperloop routes in the world. Ten teams across five countries (Mexico, India, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada) were picked from the original 2,600 submissions, and the routes range in size from about 200 to nearly 700 miles, depending on the location.
Virgin Hyperloop One hasn’t specified the length of the routes it would build in India — to be sure, it remains possible that none of these proposed routes get built — but it did tease some of the possibilities in terms of reduction in travel time. For example, it would take just 14 minutes to travel between Mumbai and the fast-growing city of Pune, a journey that currently takes up to three hours by car. Also, it could look at connecting Nagpur, which is in the easternmost part of Maharashtra, with Mumbai and Pune to vastly improve passenger and freight transportation.
India is just the latest nation to express interest in the hyperloop. Finland and Dubai are both considering their own hyperloop routes. Meanwhile, Elon Musk is suddenly interested again in the idea he helped popularize back in 2013.