Sir Richard Branson promises to build 'revolutionary' Hyperloop train service


The levitating, pod-based form of transport was suggested by Elon Musk in 2013, and Hyperloop One achieved speeds of 310km/h in a July test.

Hyperloop One just struck a major deal with Richard Branson's Virgin Group.

Virgin Group already has a hand in space travel through its Virgin Galactic spaceflight company, and now the group is investing in high-speed transportation.

"After visiting Hyperloop One's test site in Nevada and meeting its leadership team this past summer, I am convinced this groundbreaking technology will change transportation as we know it and dramatically cut journey times", Virgin Group founder Richard Branson said in a press release.

With Virgin Hyperloop One, passengers and cargo will be loaded into a pod and accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. He described the hyperloop concept as "a cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table". Last month, the company announced it had raised an additional $85 million, bringing its valuation to somewhere around $700 million, the Verge reported.

Early tests of the technology have achieved speeds around 200 miles per hour, including SpaceX's hyperloop pod competition and Hyperloop One's own test runs on a track in the Nevada desert that have hit a top speed of 192 miles per hour.

Multiple startups took up the challenge, including Hyperloop One, cofounded by Musk's friend Shervin Pishevar.

The idea of a Hyperloop has been around for half a decade now. "Virgin is an iconic brand and having Richard as an ally will help strengthen our mission to spread Hyperloop One throughout the world".

But Hyperloop One has not been without controversy. Branson attended and said he saw "firsthand the exciting technology being tested".

Port colossus DP World Group of Dubai past year invested in the concept, joining backers including French national rail company SNCF, US industrial conglomerate General Electric and Russian state fund RDIF. It is building a network for underground tunnels to enable much faster transport between cities.