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If the government is serious, India can have a hyperloop in 38 months: Bibop Gresta

The chairman and co-founder of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has met government officials, ministers and potential business partners for his plan for ultra-high speed travel


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“India has an amazing combination of factors that makes it a possible target nation to have the first hyperloop project,” said Bibop Gresta, chairman and co-founder of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), during a visit to Mumbai on Thursday. In an exclusive interview with Forbes India, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur argued that India has a lack of infrastructure, a high population density and the need for a more efficient and faster way to transport people and freight. “This combination of factors creates not only the need but also the perfect environment to build a hyperloop,” he said.

[bq] The ‘hyperloop’ refers to a technology originally outlined by Tesla founder Elon Musk, which envisions transporting people and cargo in pods at ultra-high speeds along specially built tubes[/bq] The ‘hyperloop’ refers to a technology originally outlined by Tesla founder Elon Musk, which envisions transporting people and cargo in pods at ultra-high speeds along specially built tubes. Air is pumped out of the tubes to maintain a low-pressure, near-vacuum environment, making it possible to move, theoretically, at close to the speed of sound.

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Gresta said that he has met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as the chief ministers of several states including those of Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand, to table his proposal for a hyperloop transportation system in India. The response he said has been positive. “The government understands that India needs this technology.” Gresta also said that he had met with the Tatas and Mahindra & Mahindra to discuss his vision for India.

“If the government is serious, India can have a hyperloop in 38 months. We are ready with the technology and we can bring the money. We just need land and a commitment from the government of India,” he said. Given the green flag, Gresta said he would draw on India’s resources and manufacturing industry to build the hyperloop. “Our strategy is to become an Indian company and use as much as we can of the resources. You have regions like Jharkhand where 40 percent of the resources we need, like copper, aluminum, steel and carbon steel, are there.”

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While critics have questioned the cost-effectiveness and safety of a hyperloop, Gresta refutes such concerns. “The hyperloop is based on efficiency. The cost of creating it can sometimes be one-fourth the cost of a high speed rail, and the cost of operations can be one-fifth.” He estimates that it will cost $20 million to $40 million per km on average to build the system and will eventually cost between $20 and $60 per ticket for a passenger. “But these are American costs. In India the cost of labour and the cost of building are cheaper.”

[qt] If the government is serious, India can have a hyperloop in 38 months. We are ready with the technology and we can bring the money. We just need land and a commitment from the government of India[/qt] On the safety front, Gresta said that since the hyperloop is maintained by a self-driving structure rooted in Artificial Intelligence, human error would be eliminated. “70 percent of safety problems are made by humans,” he said.  

HTT is currently carrying out feasibility studies for a hyperloop rail system in Abu Dhabi, which could lead to the company building its first such system between the UAE capital and the city of Al Ain – a distance comparable to that between Mumbai and Pune.