The first Hyperloop track in Europe and maybe in the whole world may be built in Slovakia, the firm behind the revolutionary transportation system has announced after meeting with the post-communist country’s government.
The central European state with population of only 5.5 million is a surprising contender to become the first place in the world to operate the nearly supersonic transportation system.
But the Slovak government believes the cutting-edge technology could be the right medicine for the country’s insufficient transport infrastructure. Currently, it takes almost five hours to get from the capital, Bratislava, to the second-biggest city, Kosice, some 400km away by car. There is no direct rail connection (a train trip between the two cities could take between 10 and 20 hours and goes either via Poland or the Czech Republic).
The country would be especially interested in connecting Bratislava with the capitals of neighbouring Austria and Hungary - Vienna and Budapest. The 60km distance between Bratislava and Vienna can currently be covered in about two hours by a local train. To reach Budapest from Bratislava (at the distance of 200km) takes five hours by train.
“Hyperloop in Europe would cut distances substantially and network cities in unprecedented ways,” said Vazil Hudak, Minister of Economy of the Slovak Republic. “A transportation system of this kind would redefine the concept of commuting and boost cross-border cooperation in Europe.”
With Hyperloop, which envisions shooting pods with passengers through vacuum-filled tubes at speeds of up to 1,200km/h, it would take only eight minutes to get to Vienna and ten minutes to reach Budapest. The trip to Kosice would be cut to more than bearable 25 minutes.
The Slovak government hopes Hyperloop would boost the country’s economy and lead to the creation of new innovation hubs.
“Slovakia is a technological leader in the automotive, material science, and energy industries, many of the areas that are integral to the Hyperloop system,” said Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. “Having a European Hyperloop presence will incentivise collaboration and innovation within Slovakia and throughout Europe.”
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, founded in 2013 by JumpStarter, claims Hyperloop could be the most profitable, fastest, safest and most environmentally friendly transportation system ever built. The concept, first introduced by SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk in 2012, was originally intended to connect Los Angeles with San Francisco.
Even though the pods with passengers are expected to travel through the tubes at extremely high speeds, the team behind the development maintains that passenger comfort would be ensured as the passengers would be subject to a maximum acceleration of 1g – similar to what is experienced in an ordinary car.
Hyperloop uses a combination of alternative energy and conservation techniques such as photovoltaics, wind, kinetic, regenerative braking, and geothermal power to ensure sustainability and low cost.