The world's first commercial hyperloop system, which is set to open in Abu Dhabi in 2020, will cost "between US$20 million to US$40 million per kilometre," Bibop Gresta, Chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, has revealed.
In an exclusive interview with the Emirates News Agency, WAM, Gresta announced that Abu Dhabi's Hyperloop capsule has left the assembly facility in Spain to Toulouse, France, where it will be tested and optimised, adding that this first-of-its kind project in the world "can recoup the investment in 8 to 15 years".
The first phase of the project involves construction of 10km out of a 150km system between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and is set to be ready next year.
In April 2018, HyperloopTT signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Abu Dhabi's Aldar Properties, which, when executed, will allow for the creation of a new Hyperloop TT centre including, a full scale commercial Hyperloop system, an Hyperloop R&D Advanced Mobility Centre, a Demonstration & Visitor Centre, and an Innovation Hub.
The proposed HTT site within Aldar’s Seih Al Sderieh landbank is also conveniently located on the border of the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, close to the Expo 2020 site and Al Maktoum International Airport.
"It was a far-fetched dream, but we are all excited now that it’s a dream coming true in the UAE in 2020," Gresta said.
"Basically, the Abu Dhabi Hyperloop system is right now past the feasibility study. We have already completed the study after we partnered with Aldar Properties last year. It will be the first commercial Hyperloop line in the world."
"Today we’re announcing that the capsule has already left the assembly facility in Spain, and is on its way to Toulouse, France, where we have a prototype track. As soon as it arrives in Toulouse, it will be put in a tube and then they will test the system with the first passenger."
"The capsule will be assembled and optimised in Toulouse, prior to use in the Emirates with the goal of eventually connecting Abu Dhabi to Al Ain and Dubai at unprecedented speeds, safely, efficiently, and sustainably," he added.
The cutting-edge technology uses electro-magnetic levitation engineering to carry pods at 1,123 km/h. In other words, it is expected to reduce travel times between the emirates from hours to minutes.
"Hyperloop can quickly become profitable. It presents the ability to build a mass transit system that would not require government subsidies," Gresta added.
"An average cost generically comes between US$20 million (AED73 million) to US $40 million (AED147 million) per kilometre," Gresta said. "When you build it in the desert, it is different from building it in Switzerland. However, the second question we need to ask is how long does it take to recoup the investment? This is a topical question because no one transportation system on the ground recoups its investments. They always need subsidy."
"But in Hyprloop, we can recoup the investment in 8 to 15 years; it will be paying for itself and then it will be generating profits for the country. So it is not only fast but also very efficient."
"The Hyperloop system would have a low cost of implementation, as compared to other high speed transportation methods. It is a simpler, lighter weight, and less energy-intensive system," he added.
"In regions where road and railway infrastructure is scarce, Hyperloop can be a leap over 20th century technology directly into the 21st century. In regions with developed infrastructure, Hyperloop can easily integrate and complement current and future road and rail networks," the chairman of the California-based company stressed.
Asked about the issue of safety, Gresta noted, "Hyperloop is primarily built on pylons, using best practices from civil engineering, including seismic design and ability to withstand thermal expansion. Also, it is completely automated with advanced technologies that only require monitoring from humans. The system is electrically powered, with no need for fuel on board, and is protected from the environment."
"We have developed tiered emergency plans and redundant escape procedures and systems in the event of any incident. The HyperloopTT’s system was deemed 'feasible and insurable' by the world’s largest reinsurance company Munich RE," Gresta concluded.