On Thursday morning, Hyperloop One detailed 11 U.S. routes it is considering for its high-speed, tube-based transport project. The presentation, made at the Newseum in Washington D.C., was heavy on Texas, which plays a prominent role in two of the proposed hyperloop lines.
According to Hyperloop One officials, their passengers would feel a lot like airline passengers, they'd just be in a pod traveling through a low-pressure tube system via electric propulsion. The pod, the company says, would be capable of gliding long distances at air-travel speed thanks to the low amount of drag created by the aerodynamic design.
One, called the Texas Triangle, would connect Dallas to Austin and San Antonio. When completed, it could compress what is currently a three-hour drive under ideal circumstances between DFW and state capitol into a 20 minute trip in a pod. Another semi-finalist would connect Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Houston.
The Texas Triangle route
While the technology behind the proposed Texas hyperloop sounds like something that could end up being vaporware, Hyperloop One, in addition to detailing the 11 semi-finalist projects, also announced concrete progress Thursday. Tubing for the company's 1,640-foot full-scale testing site in Nevada is complete.
The Hyperloop One test track in Nevada.
"Hyperloop One is the only company in the world building an operational commercial Hyperloop system," Rob Lloyd, chief executive officer of Hyperloop One, said. "It will transform transportation as we know it and create a more connected world."
The plan for the Texas Triangle hyperloop is being developed by AECOM, an engineering firm with offices in Dallas and Houston. Steven Duong, the team leader on the project, told the Houston Chronicle
is an ideal environment for Hyperloop One's first commercial project because of its multiple population centers and regulatory environment.
“From a planning perspective and from a regulatory perspective Texas is a good first step for Hyperloop,” Duong said. “Population is a big part of it, but not just population, but population growth. So is the climate in Texas for development.”
As planned, the Texas Triangle project would not connect Dallas and Houston directly. Instead, that route would be left to the proposed high-speed rail line between the cities, which has faced an uphill regulatory battle as rural communities have fought back against the line going through their towns.
According to Duong, even in a low-regulation environment like Texas, building any project of the proposed hyperloop's scale is difficult, as exemplified by the opposition encountered by the high-speed rail line.
“What that shows is you are going to run into that issue no matter where you do a project like that in the United States,” he said.
The 11 U.S. semifinalists join 24 international competitors still competing in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. Twelve winning projects will work with Hyperloop One team on project development and securing financing, but, as with Texas' long-awaited high-speed rail line, there is no guarantee any of the projects will ever get built.