Is a new form of efficient and sustainable travel coming to Chicago?
For some time there were whispers and speculation of a seismic Great Lakes Hyperloop project materializing. It was mooted to be a first-of-its-kind form of futuristic travel that would link cities of the Midwest to one another in a matter of minutes.
In the last couple of years, it has turned from speculation to something very real. First NOACA put pen to paper in an official agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation that supported a hyperloop route in the Great Lakes megaregion. As a critical corridor of commerce, the Great Lakes area represents $15 billion to the transportation market and thus a prime location for potential transportation improvements.
Then towards the end of 2020 Virgin Hyperloop trialed its first-ever journey with passengers, in the desert of Nevada. The futuristic transport concept, involving pods inside vacuum tubes, two passengers the length of a 500m test track in 15 seconds reaching a speed of 107mph.
A feasibility study declared that the project aims to connect Chicago, Cleveland, Ohio, and Pittsburgh with journeys of over 700 mph propelling 30 to 40 passengers from A to B with unprecedented efficiency. The study even looked at the potential of building a hyperloop tunnel beneath Lakes Erie and Michigan.
According to NBC12 at a top speed of 760mph Chicagoans would be able to travel to Cleveland in 28 minutes flat and a journey from Cleveland to the Steel City would then take just 9 minutes.
While thorough information regarding the development of the project is hard to come by, and many sources seem tight-lipped about ongoing progress, bit by bit it is looking like a legitimate hyperloop plan is forming. Tests are reportedly being continuously carried out at a Hyperloop Transportation Technologies’ test track in Toulouse, France with a manned drive planned for this year.
Virgin’s Hyperloop website and Instagram account have also been offering up gradual weekly updates on progress and at the end of November 2021, an auspicious Instagram post read “Hyperloop will be here sooner than you may think.”
Official social media channels have also hinted that this could span the entire country withsome saying “advancements at the Hyperloop Certification Center will pave the way for commercial hyperloop projects connecting coast to coast.”
There may be nothing concrete right now but Chicagoans who find themselves regularly in transit can look forward to traveling more than 10x faster than traditional rail, 3x faster than high-speed rail, and at airplane-like speeds without the risks, waits, and delays.
Is this the future?
More information can be found at virginhyperloop.com.
[Featured image from Instagram / @virginhyperloop]