Virgin Hyperloop One on February 18, 2018 announced Maharashtra’s intent to build a hyperloop between Pune and Mumbai, beginning with an operational demonstration track.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and chairman, Virgin Hyperloop One, announced the framework agreement in the presence of prime minister Narendra Modi and Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra, to begin development of the route. The signing of the agreement at the 'Magnetic Maharashtra' event was also attended by Virgin Hyperloop One board members and key investors Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, CEO and group chairman of DP World, and Ziyavudin Magomedov, chairman, Summa Group.
Recognising the Maharashtra government's contribution to the country’s economy, prime minister Narendra Modi said, “51 percent of total investments in India have come to Maharashtra, and the state is attracting global investors. The state’s overall development in the past few years is a shining example of change thinking and improving conditions in the country. The Maharashtra government is ahead of all other Indian states in terms of infrastructure spend and the state is on its way to achieving its bold vision of a trillion dollar economy.”
Sir Richard Branson said: “I believe Virgin Hyperloop One could have the same impact upon India in the 21st century as trains did in the 20th century. The Pune-Mumbai route is an ideal first corridor as part of a national hyperloop network that could dramatically reduce travel times between India’s major cities to as little as two hours. Virgin Hyperloop One can help India become a global transportation pioneer and forge a new world-changing industry.”
The Hyperloop route will link central Pune, Navi Mumbai International Airport, and Mumbai in 25 minutes, connecting 26 million people and create a thriving, competitive mega-region. The high-capacity passenger and cargo hyperloop route eventually will support 150 million passenger trips annually, saving more than 90 million hours of travel time, and providing citizens with greater opportunities and social and economic mobility. The Hyperloop system will also have the potential for the rapid movement of palletised freight and light cargo between the Mumbai port and Pune, creating a robust backbone for on-demand deliveries, supply chains, and next-generation logistics.
The Pune-Mumbai route could result in USD $55 billion (Rs 350,000 crore) in socio-economic benefits (time savings, emissions and accident reduction, operational cost savings among others) over 30 years of operation, according to an initial pre-feasibility study completed by Virgin Hyperloop One. The 100 percent electric, efficient hyperloop system will help ease severe traffic congestion on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 150,000 tonnes annually.
“With Virgin Hyperloop One, we can create a sustainable infrastructure that will enhance the state of Maharashtra's competitiveness and attract new investment and businesses,” said Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra. “The Pune-Mumbai hyperloop route will be an economic catalyst for the region and create tens of thousands of jobs for India’s world-class manufacturing, construction, service, and IT sectors and aligns with Make in India initiatives.”
The Pune-Mumbai hyperloop project will begin with a six-month in-depth feasibility study which will analyse and define the route alignment including environmental impact, the economic and commercial aspects of the route, the regulatory framework, and cost and funding model recommendations.
The feasibility study will build upon the findings of the pre-feasibility study signed in November 2017 between the Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority and Virgin Hyperloop One.
The project will enter a procurement stage upon the successful completion of the feasibility study to determine the public-private partnership structure. The construction of the Pune-Mumbai hyperloop route would commence after procurement and will be completed in two phases, beginning with an operational demonstration track built between two points on the route.
The track will be constructed in two to three years from the signing of the agreement and serve as a platform for testing, certifying, and regulating the system for commercial operations. The second phase will target to complete construction of the full Pune-Mumbai route in five to seven years. Future projects could also extend the route to link central Pune with the New Pune International Airport and Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai with Pune’s industrial economic zones.
“The Pune-Mumbai hyperloop project will ultimately be executed by a public-private partnership which will save taxpayer money while delivering a transport option that will help the State of Maharashtra support economic growth, improve sustainability, and meet the transport demands,” said Kiran Gitte, CEO of the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority.
Rob Lloyd, CEO, Virgin Hyperloop One, said: “We have always believed that India would be a tremendous market for Hyperloop. The Pune-Mumbai route is one of the strongest economic cases we have seen to-date. The state of Maharashtra has made a strong commitment to building the first hyperloop route in India. We are looking forward to partnering with the state as well as our partners to make the Pune-Mumbai route a reality.”