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16th May 2017

So, we are coming to the afternoon session and first to the stage is Dr Alan James. As he walks to the centre of the room he announces that he has the best job in the world – a bold statement!

He works for a company based in Los Angeles called Hyperloop One, which has approximately 250 members of staff made up of some of the best engineers in the world.

First and foremost, Alan explains that Hyperloop is not a train, it is a pod. It can carry freight or passengers from 24 seats to 50 or even 90 depending on the leg room you require. Similar to first class and economy, there are several different options.

For the first time, you don’t have to wait for a number of people to turn up to make the journey economically viable. The pod is worked through a tube, which means that the engineers create a controlled environment. As a result, these specialists then reduce the air pressure in the tubes to eliminate almost all resistance. Ultimately, Hyperloop brings low pressure down to earth.

The linear electric motor is then used to accelerate the pods, which are then levitated rather than having wheels, to eliminate friction.

No friction, no aerodynamic drag and a levitated pod means it can cruise for 60 km/h using no traction power. Pretty impressive to say the least. Not only does this make it fast, it also makes it a very cost effective transport option.

Alan explains that some of the fundamental design principles of High-Speed rail go back to Brunel, who said that if you want to go fast you need to keep a system straight and level. As such, you can build the ‘track’ elevated.

An introduction to Hyperloop One
Hyperloop One is the company that is building a Hyperloop, the first entirely new mode of transport since 1903. Not only are there videos and schematics to show how it could work, the team are actually making it. It is a real invention and innovation.

The company’s head office is in downtown Los Angeles. Alan explains that when you open the door to the technical centre it is like walking into NASA, it is that impressive! It is the most innovative and technologically advanced transport system in the world.

There is a research and development centre in the middle of the Nevada Desert. Hyperloop One is the only company in the world actually building all of the technology required to deliver a fully functional Hyperloop transport system.

The company will launch its first public demonstration named Kitty Hawk.

The figures also make for impressive reading: – 300 metres per second – 1,080 km/h – 671 mph

Transformational transport
What Hyperloop One is doing is referred to as intelligent networking, which provides transformational economics.

Comparatively to other modes of transport, Hyperloop One can travel 300km in 18 minutes, High-Speed rail 1 hour 10 minutes and standard rail will take 2 hours 20mins. You don’t have to be a mathematician to work out where the benefits are, both in terms of time and economics.

What makes this transport system so exciting is that Hyperloop links everywhere with everywhere else. All journeys are non-stop. Hyperloop offers an integrated journey experience. A single tap on your smartphone guides you through existing local transport to your nearest Hyperloop station and your phone is also your ticket, giving you directions to the correct pod. Once on board, the next time the doors open you will be at your destination.

Be anywhere, move everything, connect everyone
Leeds to Manchester will take 6 minutes and Manchester to Liverpool will take 5 minutes, meaning that Liverpool to Leeds will take just 8 minutes because Hyperloop pods do not stop at intermediate stations. This, in turn, creates a viable and accessible area to connect and do business. Not only does this break barriers down between counties and wider geographies but it also opens up talent pools and makes it more viable for people to live in one city and work in another.

Imagine the opportunities that this will offer. Innovative, digital, imaginative and impressive. We can’t wait to see a real pod in action. We can certainly see how this would disrupt transport, and also for those who embrace change, it will shift regional business forever too.

Most interestingly, Alan made it clear that Hyperloop One does not want to compete with HS2 because of the significant funding that has already been contributed to the project, but that this is considered as the next phase in public transport, something that will make a real and lasting difference for the UK and beyond.

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