Is Richard Branson’s high-speed train in a pneumatic tube pie in the sky?
First airlines, then spaceships. Now the Virgin boss wants to build Hyperloop One – a high-speed, pneumatic maglev railway. But engineering experts doubt that it will ever leave the station
Last week, Richard Branson gave a boost to tech tycoon Elon Musk’s vision of a futuristic transport system. Hyperloop One is the frontrunner among several companies working on plans for magnetically propelled ground shuttles capable of keeping pace with commercial airliners. Branson announced an investment of an undisclosed sum in the company, which took its total funding to £186m.
Musk first outlined his plans, entitled Hyperloop Alpha, in 2013, when he said the system could provide a safer, faster and more convenient mode of long-distance transport than cars and trains, while also being low cost, sustainable, immune to adverse weather and earthquake-resistant.