With Elements Of Both Rail And Plane, Maharashtra’s Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop Faces A Possible Regulatory Hurdle

The lack of regulatory framework to oversee construction and safety standards for emerging transport technologies may delay the ambitious Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop project as it races to become the world’s first operational hyperloop project ahead of many other cities which are also working to set up their own lines, Livemint reported.

According to the Mint report, the regulatory challenge stems from the fact that the project as envisaged currently falls in the domain of both train and air travel. While the passengers will travel on rails like in a conventional train, it also involves creation of high speed near-vacuum environment also making it akin to an aerospace travel.

Mint quoted Naushad Oomer, Director, Operations, India, Virgin Hyperloop One as saying that “There is a committee formed at the level of the Principal Scientific Advisor’s office where they are looking at the technology, doing the due diligence and deciding whether there should be cross-functional group of regulators or whether it should be from a single ministry. Our view is that it should be regulated by a body that has the skill set and background to look at all these areas”

The Virgin Hyperloop will transport passengers or cargo in pods, which will pass through a sealed vacuum tube designed to nullify air resistance. It also seeks to reduce friction by doing away with conventional tracks and instead use a form of magnetic levitation (Maglev) to run the pod.

Virgin’s Maglev technology involves pod-side permanent magnets which repel a passive track, powered by an input energy of the pod speed. It seeks to control conductivity to reduce harmful eddy currents so that the pod magnets are repelled with low drag.

In July this year, the Devendra Fadnavis led Maharashtra cabinet on Tuesday (31 July) approved the Pune-Mumbai hyperloop project which promises to reduces travel time between the two cities from over three hours to just 23 minutes.

Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One is the tipped to be favourite to bag the project which needs a total investment of Rs 70,000 crore. other firms will have an option of bring their proposals on board and would bag the contract in case they offer a 10 per cent betterment than Virgin.

In 2018, the Maharashtra government had declared hyperloop as a public infra project. The government has already inked a memorandum of understanding with Virgin Hyperloop to develop this test track in Pimpri-Chinchwad’s Wakad.

Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (PMRDA) was chosen as the nodal agency to execute the project which needs a total investment of Rs 70,000 crore.

The project promises to deliver speeds up to 1,100 kmph, faster than any public transport system currently available. Modern jets like Airbus A380 and A320 have a cruising speed of around 900 kmph.

The proposed hyperloop train is estimated to run at a speed of 496 kmph and cover the distance between the two cities in just 23 minutes. It will run from BKC in Mumbai to Wakad in Pune, covering a distance of 117.5 km.

In the first phase, the project will be run on a pilot basis for 11.8 km in the Pune Metropolitan region at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore. Virgin Hyperloop One will be developing this.

Also Read – As Maharashtra Cabinet Approves Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop, All You Need To Know About The Project And Tech Involved