Virgin Hyperloop One confirms first major facility in West Virginia

Image credit: reuters

Virgin Hyperloop One, the proposed service allowing long range, high-speed transport using a system of magnets and vacuum tubes, has confirmed the construction of a Certification Centre in West Virginia that will help make the project a reality.

After years of testing and developing hyperloop technology at their full-scale test site, the firm said the Centre would help hyperloop progress on the regulatory and commercial fronts, as well as create thousands of new jobs across construction, manufacturing, operations, and high-tech sectors.

Virgin Hyperloop aims to achieve safety certification by 2025, with commercial operations beginning in 2030 in addition to eventual services outside of the US.

“Today is one of the most exciting days in Virgin Hyperloop’s history,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. “The Hyperloop Certification Center is the start of the hyperloop journey for West Virginia, for the United States, and for the world. We’re one step closer to making hyperloop travel a reality for people everywhere.”

This hyperloop idea was first conceived in August 2013 by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, after which he extended the idea into a white paper and invited other innovators to attempt to make it a reality.

Numerous start-ups appeared in the years that followed, with Branson’s Virgin snapping up one such firm, Hyperloop One.

Musk has his own version running alongside Virgin’s efforts with his Boring Company. That firm’s plan is to begin digging underground tunnels through the US in which hyperloops could be installed.

Virgin wants to build a route that would link Chicago and Pittsburgh in under an hour and says its Certification Centre will employ up to 200 full-time workers when complete.

“Today is a fantastic day for the state of West Virginia, and I’d like to be the first to officially welcome the folks from Virgin Hyperloop to their new home,” said Governor Jim Justice.

“For years, I have been saying that West Virginia is the best kept secret on the East Coast, and it’s true. Just look at this announcement and all it will bring to our state – investment, jobs, and tremendous growth.”

The HCC is intended to provide an opportunity for regulators, governments, companies, and universities from around the world to forge global, partnerships surrounding all elements of hyperloop transportation technology.

“The Hyperloop Certification Center will be a global hub for hyperloop,” said Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop. “Our goal is to bring together authorities from around the world to set global safety and industry standards for this new mode of ultra-fast, zero-emissions mode of transport.”

In its publicity material, the company says that by "combining an ultra-efficient electric motor, magnetic levitation, and a low-drag environment, hyperloop systems can carry more people than a subway, at airline speeds, and with zero direct emissions."

In a sign of the firm's global ambitions, the statement continues: "With the goal to be safety certified by 2025 and begin commercial operations by 2030, the 100 per cent electric Virgin Hyperloop system could play a key role in helping achieve the European Green Deal’s climate-neutrality objective."

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