Punjab is set to become the second state after Maharashtra to get Hyperloop and routes have been proposed — Chandigarh-Amritsar and Chandigarh-Delhi — for developing high-speed lines to reduce travel time between the cities to mere minutes.
An agreement for the Rs 56,000 crore project is set to be signed with Virgin Hyperloop One next month. Vini Mahajan, additional chief secretary (investment promotion), “The draft of the agreement has been finalised by the two sides. Now it has been cleared by the transport and finance departments and finally got a nod from the chief minister.”
Maharashtra had in 2018 approved Virgin Hyperloop One-led consortium’s plan to develop a high-speed line between Pune and Mumbai. Not clear yet if Punjab will acquire land for Hyperloop.
Virgin Hyperloop One and DP World, UAE’s state-owned port operator, have a partnership to implement projects in India. “If it works, the hyperloop will completely revolutionise the way we travel. The journey between the proposed corridor from Amritsar to Chandigarh will be completed in a little over 30 minutes. The two routes are Chandigarh to Amritsar and Chandigarh to Delhi. The latter will also involve Haryana. We have assured that we will facilitate this,” said Mahajan.
Asked if a feasibility study will be done to check the financial viability of the project like Chandigarh Metro (which was found to be unviable), Mahajan said the consortium plans to undertake the project on its own and the state does not have to worry about the financial model. “DP World proposes to put its own money and is not looking at any financial assistance from the state government,” she said.
“The Punjab project will take the Maharashtra model as the template. It will be an ambitious scheme that will put an end to the traffic woes and also offer faster travel,” said Mahajan.
In August this year, the Maharashtra government deemed the Hyperloop a public infrastructure project, recognizing hyperloop technology and setting up the Mumbai-Pune line as the first operational Hyperloop project in the world.
The draft agreement between Punjab and the consortium, according to sources, went back and forth several times before it was finalised. Issues such as whether the state government will play a role in acquiring land for the project are yet to be worked out between the two sides.
Virgin Hyperloop One has built a full-scale hyperloop test track and has completed hundreds of test runs using a full-scale hyperloop vehicle with electric propulsion and electromagnetic levitation under near-vacuum conditions. This new form of transportation is expected to be faster, safer, cheaper, and more sustainable than existing modes once functional.
Apart from the hyperloop, the UAE-based company has also decided to set up a logistics park in Pathankot. “We have shown them the site and they are presently in touch with the Indian Railways to sort out some issues,” said Mahajan.