Capable of running a pod every 10 seconds, the Hyperloop is expected to carry 15,000 passengers per hour per direction, almost double the hourly footfall estimated at Expo 2020. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Hyperloop, the ultrfast transport system that runs passenger and cargo pods at speeds of around 1,100 kmph, will serve Expo 2020, a senior engineer working on the mega project has told Gulf News.

Capable of running a pod every 10 seconds, the hyperloop is expected to carry 15,000 passengers per hour per direction, almost double the average hourly footfall estimated at the Expo 2020.

“We would like to see people riding on a hyperloop to Expo 2020. We are ready to deliver well before 2020. The technology is ready and all we need to do is put things together. Though we still haven’t finalised the exact route, we will most certainly serve the Expo,” said Colin Rhys, creative director of Hyperloop One, that is doing a feasibility of study for the superfast transit system in Dubai.

Proposed phase one of hyperloop

Last month, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) signed an agreement with Hyperloop One, the US-based firm that is developing the high-speed technology, to start the feasibility study on the construction and operation of the futuristic transit network.

“We are glad to have partners like RTA who are supporting us with regulations and standards. We are working together on the field to identify the possible route alignments and hopefully we will finalise the corridor by the end of this month. We are studying a route between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but in the first phase we are working on an intra-Dubai route that is likely to run parallel to E311 (Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road),” he added.

The feasibility study is in its fifth week now and apart from looking at route alignment and right-of-way issues, it is also exploring ways to integrate with the existing master plans for 2020 and 2030.

High speed corridor

Colin Rhys

Rhys, who is leading the project in Dubai, said that the initial network will be closer to 40 kilometres, almost double the distance that was reported last month.

“Basically what we are planning to build is a 20-kilometre tube with two lines going out in each direction, and a large facility in the centre, where we will do our regulatory testing and passenger experience trials as well as the safety work and diagnostic testing of the actual architecture of the system.

“The idea is to have a main line running along the Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road all the time at 1,100 kmph, which is eventually going to run down to Abu Dhabi. And then we will have these acceleration and de-acceleration loops that would go into the city and connect with areas like Dubai South, Downtown Dubai and other areas. These loops will run at lesser speeds and connect people to their final destinations or to the connecting metro stations, a tram or a bus,” said Rhys.

He added that the total network including the loops could be around 40 kilometres.

The 20-kilometre long main corridor, running parallel to the Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road with the help of the 20 kilometres of connecting loops, is likely to serve areas like Dubai South, Dubai Investment Park (DIP), Dubai Sports City, Motor City, etc.

Though, the two ends of the corridor are not finalised yet, one of the terminus is likely to be either the Expo 2020 site or Dubai South.

Time travel

It will take only between two to four minutes to travel on the corridor as against 30 to 40 minutes it takes to travel the same distance on the current transport system.

“We want to give time back to people. With all this development and urban lifestyle what we have lost is the time, especially on the road. We want to give this lost time back to people which they can enjoy or utilise in a more productive way,” said Rhys.

He added that the system will integrate with the existing modes of transport, rather than replacing them.

“What we are looking at is to bring all these different modes of transport and link the missing joints and bring them together to form one cohesive system. Hyperloop is not a replacement, we are a connector to these different things. RTA has done an amazing job to have the metro and tram in place and we are looking at connecting all these things together,” said Rhys.

Apart from providing the internal connectivity Hyperloop One plans to connect with Abu Dhabi and then eventually stretch it further to Doha by 2022 Fifa World Cup and onwards into Saudi Arabia and finally into India as well.

“This whole GCC and India relationship is incredibly important to us, we want to tap into this traffic and provide this much safer equally fast alternative to aeroplanes. We are in talks with different entities and we believe we can provide the alternative,” he added.

The GCC railway has been under pipeline for a long time with very small segments of the project built and Rhys believes hyperloop could be a viable alternative.

“We believe that hyperloop is the solution to the GCC rail, it can be built much faster and almost 30 to 40 per cent cheaper than building a high speed rail system,” he said.

Rhys believes the hyperloop can accelerate the UAE’s push to be the global trade and innovation hub and make it happen in the next eight to 10 years.

“If we can connect the GCC as a region, this becomes the single most powerful region in the world, moving trade, innovation and people at incredible speeds.”

A similar study is also underway at Jebel Ali Port, where Hyperloop One is exploring to put in place the high-speed system to transport cargo containers with in the sprawling port.

Hyperloop One will be doing their first full scale system test in Las Vegas in February 2017, giving the world the first glimpse what can be a possibility.