For ultra high speed travel in India, a high-level panel has been formed by Niti Aayog to explore the technological as well as commercial viability of the Virgin Hyperloop technology. This step has been taken by the government think-tank, weeks after its first test was completed with humans on board. The test run of the Virgin Hyperloop was conducted on a 500-meter long track in Las Vegas with a pod travelling with passengers, including an Indian passenger, inside an enclosed tube at more than a speed of 100 mph or 161 kmph, according to a PTI report. Niti Aayog in its document had stated that in view of the emerging transport technology as well as for gaining the first-mover advantage, it is important to look into Virgin Hyperloop’s technological and commercial viability.
In order to procure new technology, it is important to explore commercial, technological, financial (viability) as well as (assess) safety standards along with regulations. The Niti Aayog document said it has decided to form an Expert Committee. The committee comprises of Niti Aayog member VK Saraswat as its Chairman as well as Adviser (Infrastructure Connectivity, Niti Aayog), Sudhendu Jyoti Sinha as its convener. The committee’s other members are Chairman and CEO of Railway Board VK Yadav, the secretaries of the ministries of Road Transport and Highways, Housing and Urban Affairs and the Maharashtra state government’s Transport Secretary. Besides, the MD of Delhi Metro, the Director of IIT-Delhi, the Chairman of Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Chairman (Technology Information) of the forecasting and assessment council are also the committee’s members.
The Niti Aayog document, about the mandate of the committee, says that within six months’ time of its first meeting, the committee has to study Virgin hyperloop technology and its commercial viability, (and) safety, regulation as well as finalize the document. Also, domain experts, as well as representatives from various organizations, are likely to be invited by the committee into its meetings as it may deem fit.
The state of Maharashtra has deemed hyperloop a public infra exercise. Also, for the Mumbai-Pune hyperloop project, Maharashtra has approved the Virgin Hyperloop-DP World Consortium as the original project proponent. Last month, a partnership was announced by Virgin Hyperloop with Bangalore International Airport to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed hyperloop corridor from the Bengaluru airport. With the involvement of Niti Aayog, the committee’s report could now act as a roadmap for charting the way forward for hyperloop in India, the report added.