Virgin Hyperloop picks West Virginia to test high-speed transport system

Oct 08, 2020

SEATTLE/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Virgin Hyperloop has picked the U.S. state of West Virginia to host a $500 million certification center and test track for billionaire Richard Branson’s super high-speed travel system, the company told Reuters.

The center will be the first U.S. regulatory proving ground for a hyperloop system designed to whisk floating pods packed with passengers and cargo through vacuum tubes at 600 miles (966 kmph) an hour or faster.

Later, Branson announced the decision in a press conference on Thursday, joined virtually by U.S. Transportation Department Secretary Elaine Chao, the state’s Republican governor Jim Justice, and U.S. Senators from West Virginia Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat.

In a hyperloop system, which uses magnetic levitation to allow near-silent travel, a trip between New York and Washington would take just 30 minutes. That would be twice as fast as a commercial jet flight and four times faster than a high-speed train.

Construction is slated to begin in 2022 on the site of a former coal mine in Tucker and Grant Counties, West Virginia, with safety certification by 2025 and commercial operations by 2030, the company said.

Federal regulators will use the center, and accompanying six-mile test track, to establish regulatory and safety standards, while Virgin will test its product and infrastructure.

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