181110 Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem
Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem Image Credit: Twitter / Dubai Media Office

Dubai: Virgin Hyperloop One on Friday announced that Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem, group chairman and CEO of DP World, has been elected its new chairman, replacing Sir Richard Branson.

Jay Walder, who was CEO of bike-sharing operator Motivate and the Hong Kong transit company MTR Corporation, has been appointed as its new CEO. Walder will also join the company’s board of directors.

According to Dubai Media Office statement, the selection of a new senior management team will “allow Virgin Hyperloop One to transition its focus from technology start-up to mass transportation company beginning with the implementation of the world’s first hyperloop system running from Pune to Mumbai.” The announcement follows the recent announcement of a new round of funding.

“As we enter uncharted territory in implementing an entirely new kind of mass transportation system, we needed a leader with a deep understanding of public transportation, experience in infrastructure financing, a track record of project delivery, and success working with government and private sector partners,” said Bin Sulayem.

“We could not have found a more ideal candidate than Jay Walder for the next stage of the company’s development and the historic growth of this new industry.”

Walder said he looks forward to joining the company.

“I have focused my career on using technology to advance innovation in transportation, so I could not pass up the opportunity to lead the company that has pioneered hyperloop,” he said.

Walder will replace Rob Lloyd, who served as CEO for more than three years. Branson’s board seat will be taken by Virgin’s Patrick McCall.

Virgin Hyperloop One is focusing on a major current project in India, where the government has recently declared the Pune-Mumbai hyperloop project as a public infrastructure project with international consortium DP World and Virgin Hyperloop One as the original project proponent. If the government ultimately awards it a concession for the project, the company expects to start constructions on the 11km test loop in 2019, according to the statement. When completed, hyperloop can reduce the travel time between Mumbai and Pune from about 4 hours to 25 minutes.