Moscow is considering building a Hyperloop transportation system to ease the extreme traffic jams that complicate the lives of the city’s inhabitants.
Representatives of Russia’s capital have this week signed a memorandum of understanding with Hyperloop One, one of the two companies developing the supersonic transportation technology proposed by SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.
"Hyperloop can improve life dramatically for the 16 million people in the greater Moscow area, cutting their commute to a fraction of what it is today," said Shervin Pishevar, co-founder of Hyperloop One.
The city is infamous not only for the overwhelming traffic jams that take hours of commuters’ lives on a daily basis, but also for the excessively expensive rents and property prices that are out of reach for many people.
Hyperloop One envisions the system in Moscow would run at speeds of about 640km/h, well below the peak supersonic level envisioned for long-haul Hyperloop transportation. However, it would still be fast enough to allow people to live cheaply outside Moscow and comfortably commute to the city for work.
Hyperloop One is working with Russian logistics and engineering company Summa Group to carry out a feasibility study that would assess the profitability of the project and the obstacles to access the land it would need to build tunnels.
The deal, signed at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum is already the fourth for Hyperloop One. The company is already carrying out similar studies in the USA, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK and Dubai.
Summa Technologies also has plans to build a Hyperloop link in the far east of Russia in order to carry goods from China to Russian ports.
“The implementation of Hyperloop technology provides tremendous benefits to the Russian Federation in terms of the geopolitical development of the intracontinental transit potential and building of an economically attractive alternative to the existing global logistics flows,” said Summa Group chairman Ziyavudin Magomedov.
“In the long term Hyperloop could catalyse the development of regional economic integration, including the Eurasian Economic Union.”
According to Russia’s transportation minister Maksim Sokolov, who also attended the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, the first Hyperloop track in Russia could cover a 70km run between China’s Jilin province and the Russian port of Zarubino. Its proponents claim the track would replace the polluting trucks currently used to transport minerals and goods from Jilin to Zarubino.
Hyperloop One, backed by venture capital and railway investors, aims to demonstrate a complete system with a pod, track, tube, non-contact levitation and propulsion in a vacuum by the end of this year.
The company conducted the first trial of its air-cushion technology on 11 May 2016. It’s rival system - the crowd-funded Hyperloop Transportation Technologies - explores the concept of passive magnetic levitation to achieve the same result.
Hyperloop One says it will build the first system capable of transporting cargo by 2019 and the first for transporting passengers by 2021.
Last month, the company invited the public to submit ideas for areas of the world where a Hyperloop could meet a region's transportation needs. Since the competition was announced last month, the company has received more than 225 registrants from 45 countries.