Elon Musk gave no detail when he announced plans in January to build a hyperloop test track, likely in Texas. Since then, another entrepreneur has secured agreements to break ground early next year on a five-mile stretch in California.
This stretch, near the new town of Quay Valley along Interstate-5 midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, is estimated to cost $100 million and could start carrying passengers in 2018 after extensive safety testing.
“We look at it as a metro system,” says Dirk Ahlborn, head of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies or HTT, which is building the California project. “We envision a network” in the United States and elsewhere, he says, calling trains a “dinosaur industry” and high-speed rail too expensive.
Here was the 58 page document that Elon Musk kicked off the technical proposal of hyperloop
Another company, Los Angeles-based Hyperloop Technologies, is vying to make fast tubular travel a reality. It’s led by Silicon Valley and Washington heavyweights including Brogan BamBrogan, a key former SpaceX engineer; Jim Messina, the manager of President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign; David Sacks, who worked under Musk at PayPal, and Shervin Pishevar, investor in ridesharing company Uber who prodded Musk to go public with his Hyperloop vision.
Ahlborn says traveling in a Hyperloop will be similar to riding the subway or flying in an airplane. He plans to finish the five-mile California stretch in early 2017 and spend at least a year optimizing the system before taking on passengers.
To build a long stretch quickly, he sees more potential obstacles in the United States than in other countries.
“We have a lot of inquiries from overseas. There’s just less politics,” he says, citing Singapore and the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai. “We’d like to see it first in the U.S., but the politics, the lawsuits, the right of way issues make it more difficult.”