Hyperloop One pod in Nevada testing facility

UK Hyperloop at least 20 years off

Image credit: Hyperloop One

The UK is unlikely to build a Hyperloop transport system for at least two decades according to government advisers.

The futuristic high-speed transport concept involves propelling passengers and freight in pods through low-pressure tubes at high speed.

The technology was first proposed in 2013 by Tesla boss Elon Musk, who reaffirmed his commitment to building it at a US site in the summer. However, it is not yet clear whether he has secured any form of government permission. 

A new report has found that the UK’s “dense population and intensive land use” could make construction more difficult than in other locations.

The need to build the network either partially or fully underground in the UK would have a “significant impact” on capital costs, maintenance and emergency evacuations, the Department for Transport’s Science Advisory Council (SAC) said.

Sir Richard Branson, who invested in a Hyperloop firm last month, claimed it could enable people to travel between London and Scotland in 45 minutes. 

That company, now named Virgin Hyperloop One, is aiming to achieve speeds of up to 670mph and have “operational systems” ready by 2021.

The SAC accepted that such technology could have a “transformational impact” on travel, enabling commuters to live “anywhere in the country”.

But it concluded: “Because of the scale of the technical challenges involved, an operational Hyperloop system is likely to be at least a couple of decades away.”

Virgin Hyperloop One is in the early stages of making the technology commercially viable after completing a full-scale test in Las Vegas.

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