One of India’s busiest transit routes is getting a serious upgrade with the announcement of a $10bn Hyperloop project, expected to be the world’s first, which will ferry passengers 117.5km from Mumbai to Pune in just 23 minutes.
The Maharashtra provincial cabinet approved the Rs 70,000 crore (~US$10bn) project in a meeting Tuesday. At present, some 75 million people travel the route annually.
“This project would mark the beginning of a new era in the country’s transport sector,” the state government said in a statement.
Hyperloop is an ultra-high-speed rail system that launches passenger pods through almost entirely frictionless tubes using magnetic propulsion at speeds of up to 750 miles (1,200 km) per hour.
The Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) will oversee the project which is expected to be funded largely by foreign investment. United Arab Emirates’ DP World and Virgin Hyperloop One have already signed up to be involved but the project will be opened up to additional bidders.
The hyperloop will be executed in two phases. Phase 1 will consist of a 11.8km (7.4 miles) section from Gahunje to Usse, estimated to be completed in 2.5 years at a cost of roughly 5,000 crore ($724 million).
“The stretch for phase I has been selected as a test track because the technical challenges that can be experienced along the expressway can be found on this patch,” an unnamed official told the Times of India.
If this initial phase proves a success, the remaining section between the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai and Wakad in Pune will be completed in an estimated six to eight years.
If all goes well, India could become the world’s pioneering hyperloop nation.