Plans are being considered by a Dutch province to connect Amsterdam to other European cities using a 600 mph magnetic hovertrain.
A study carried out by a Dutch technology startup, Hardt Hyperloop, in collaboration with North Holland province, suggests that the high-speed hyperloop, comprising a magnetic hovertrain in an air-free tube, could slash commuting times from Amsterdam to Paris, Brussels, Düsseldorf or Frankfurt from “hours to minutes”.
Touting the new form of ground transport, which is able to travel at remarkable speeds due to the lack of friction and drag and is currently in development by a number of companies, the research insists that once put in place, “borders would, quite literally, become blurred”.
Commuting by Hyperloop airpod would enable passengers from Amsterdam to reach Brussels in less than 30 minutes, or Paris in 90 minutes. The time spent on travel between the cities would dramatically decrease from the current three and half hours, the study suggests.
Jeroen Olthof, Deputy Mobility of the Province Noord Holland, said in a Hardt press release:
“We know that people are willing to travel for a maximum of one hour to their work. With a high-speed hyperloop, you would be able to cover much greater distances in that time. This sounds very promising. That is why we will engage in discussions with other authorities to progress this research.”
Economic modelling has suggested time-saving on commuting would bring €275bn (£241bn) in GDP to the province, equal to 121 percent growth, writes HLN.
While Amsterdam would enjoy a larger workforce, less short-haul flights from Schiphol Airport could result in a reduction of 20,000 to 24,000 flights by 2040, according to the research.
Hardt Hyperloop was founded after winning the international hyperloop competition launched by Tesla CEO Musk in 2017.
Partnering with companies such as Tata Steel to implement the ambitious project, Hardt is building the first high-speed test facility in the Dutch province of Groningen, which will have a three-kilometre test track.
Value for Money Question
Besides the obvious difficulty of making any forecasts regarding a transnational project amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with its lockdowns and closed borders, the “value for money” issue is raising flags.
With a deep economic recession being predicted as a result of the pandemic, critics believe alterations that could enhance the existing reliable modes of transport would do better than a still-questionable fifth mode.
The practicality of the hyperloop has been questioned ever since entrepreneur Elon Musk suggested the aerodynamic pods as the potential future of high-speed travel, given its relatively low energy use, back in 2013.
Nevertheless, the Hardt company is now exploring the possibilities of further research into potential benefits of the Hyperloop, also touching upon aspects such as safety, public adoption, integration, and socio-economic impact.
What is Hyperloop?
The Hyperloop is similar in design to traditional rail transport, but the pods carrying passengers travel through tubes or tunnels from which most of the air has been removed to reduce friction, allowing speeds of up to 750 miles per hour.
Rather than using wheels, the pods are designed to float on air skis, resorting to magnetic levitation to reduce friction.
Advocates argue that Hyperloop could be cheaper, faster and less polluting than air travel.
A number of different companies are currently working to make the idea a reality.
However, it was entrepreneur Elon Musk who reignited interest in the concept, which had been around for some time, with his 'Hyperloop Alpha' paper in August 2013.
A one-kilometre hyperloop is being built by the Boring Company, one of Elon Musk's enterprises, along with Tesla Inc and SpaceX. On 28 December the tech mogul tweeted that the first commercial tunnel was to be completed in the city of Las Vegas in 2020.