- Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) has started construction in France on what the firm said will be the first full-scale hyperloop system in the world, according to a company statement. This will be the third hyperloop test track built anywhere and the first in Europe, The Verge reported.
- The first tubes arrived last week on site at HyperloopTT's Toulouse, France research and development facility, and the first passenger capsule will be completed this summer and delivered ready to be integrated into the hyperloop system. The tubes are approximately 4 meters in diameter (13 feet) and will be able to accommodate both shipping containers and passenger capsules.
- The first phase, set to be finished this year, will see the construction of a 320-meter (350 yards) closed system, followed by a 1-kilometer, full-scale hyperloop built on top of almost 6-meter-tall (19-foot-tall) pylons in 2019.
If HyperloopTT can build a fully functioning hyperloop system, it will have managed to leapfrog over Elon Musk's SpaceX test track in Hawthorne, California, and those of Virgin Hyperloop One, The Verge reported. Both firms have conducted tests on the various mechanics of a hyperloop system, and Virgin Hyperloop One has embarked on feasibility studies as part of development agreements with state agencies in the U.S. and with foreign governments. But neither has started construction on a full-fledged system – the one that promises to revolutionize transportation.
However, while Musk and SpaceX have focused on the research side of the hyperloop and invited teams from across the world to present their hyperloop ideas in open contests – the next will be a pod competition this summer – Musk has been in negotiations for possible hyperloop projects of his own.
Last year, Musk said that he had received verbal approval from the federal government for his new venture, The Boring Company, to start digging a hyperloop tunnel from Washington, D.C. to New York City, with stops in Baltimore and Philadelphia. He projected that a one-way trip along that route would take 29 minutes. The White House said it had been in talks with Musk and appeared to be supportive of the Tesla founder's efforts.
Then in October, the Maryland Department of Transportation gave The Boring Company conditional approval to dig a hyperloop tunnel from Fort Meade, Maryland, to Washington, D.C., reportedly under a utility permit. Since then, members of Congress have requested that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan answer questions about the project, including why a tunnel for something categorized as a mode of transportation would be allowed to proceed under a utility permit and whether environmental reviews were conducted prior to issuance of the permit.
Federal lawmakers have requested that Hogan provide answers to their questions by April 20, likely indicating to Musk, Hogan and everyone else hoping for a functional hyperloop system sooner rather than later that there are still many bureaucratic hurdles and miles of red tape to overcome before that can happen.