What sounds like a bizarre vision could become reality within the next five to ten years: an ultra-fast Hyperloop vehicle transporting freight containers through airless tubes elevated on pillars all the way between China and Europe. The project pushed forward by Californian firm Hyperloop One was now presented by Co-Founder and Executive Chairman Sherwin Pishevar to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg-held International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
Pishevar’s plan: setting up a high-speed transportation system bridging continents that would revolutionize and simplify cargo flows over long distances. The magnets propelled capsules, powered
by solar or wind energy travel through vacuum pipes at a speed of up to 1,100 kilometers per hour. If operated nonstop, they connect the Chinese and European markets within a single day. However,
intermediate stops at Moscow and probably more places along the road are part of the concept.
Endangering air freight
The entire project is still in its preliminary stage, making speculations about prices for transporting goods over distances of 10,000 to 11,000 kilometers across the vast Eurasian land bridge premature at this point of discussions.
Nevertheless, it’s becoming apparent that the 700 miles per hour train would endanger traditional air carriage on this sector when it comes to combining markets located far apart from one another. On the long run, it might also challenge traditional railway solutions, since cargo trains running between places in China and Europe need 2 weeks minimum between their origin and final destination. Their advantage over challenger Hyperloop: they can carry much higher loads at a presumably much cheaper price in comparison to their future high-speed competitor.
Based on private financing
According to Pishevar, the entire project will be financed through multiple private channels, not needing any state money to put it on track.
Particularly this aspect was music in the ears of Kremlin Chief Putin who promised to support the Hyperloop plans politically and administratively where needed, his speaker Dmitry Peskov told local media.
Russian officials are mesmerized
The Eurasian “New Silk Road” future Hyperloop link is complemented by plans for connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg as well as linking Moscow’s major airports Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo. Plans have also been tabled to drastically cut down Moscow’s commuting times by having Hyperloops running between major suburbs and the city center.
These Moscow plans are heavily supported by the city’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin. A further backer is Ziyayudin Magomedov, founder and major shareholder of the Summa Group, which engages in
telecommunications, logistics, engineering, construction and the oil and gas business.
However, Hyperloop Technologies CEO Rob Lloyd remains skeptical about the Moscow ambitions echoed by Mayor Sobyanin and private investor Magomedov. “Building tracks between places in the Metropolitan area and downtown Moscow is a challenging and probably costly tasks that we cannot estimate yet.” Moreover he said that the vehicles can only carry a limited number of passengers, thus not really easing congestions and they might not be able to run at high speed because of the relatively short distances the’d have to cover.
The ‘New Silk Road’ stands on top of Hyperloop’s agenda
A further suggestion for a Hyperloop train came from Russia’s Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov during the SPIEF trade show in St. Petersburg. The politician favors building a 70 km stretching airless pipe between the Russian port of Zarubino near Vladivostok and the neighboring Chinese Province Jilin, a center of car manufacturing and heavy industry. This way, China-built products could be brought extremely fast to the berths at Zarubino and steamed to Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia or other markets that border the Pacific Rim.
At the end of his meet with Putin, Shervin Pishevar pointed out that his firm’s main goal is to implement the ‘New Silk Road’ project, allowing moving cargo across the Eurasian land bridge at the speed of sound.