Hyperloop One pod makes local stop

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Marysville residents gathered around the Virgin Hyperloop XP-1 test pod at Partners Park Tuesday morning. The pod is part of a traveling roadshow going across the nation to show the test vehicle that could some day carry passengers across the Midwest in minutes. Plans are to build a high-speed rail system that would connect Columbus to Chicago and Pittsburgh with a stop in the City of Marysville.

(Journal-Tribune photo by Michael Williamson)

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Hyperloop One has made its first stop in the City of Marysville and according to city officials, that won’t be the last.

The Virgin Hyperloop XP-1 (XP for “experimental pod”) made a stop at Partners Park Tuesday morning as part of a travelling roadshow displaying the pod that could eventually carry passengers to cities throughout the Midwest—one of those stops being the City of Marysville.

Residents were able to get a first-hand look at the actual vehicle used in the first tests for the Hyperloop system, which aims to connect Columbus to Chicago in 30 minutes and Columbus to Pittsburgh in just over 20 minutes.

Marysville Mayor J.R. Rausch said news of the city being included in the future Hyperloop route is exciting.

“What this does is it continues to keep us on the cutting edge of new transportation,” Rausch said, adding the Hyperloop and the U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor projects are quickly making Marysville one of “the most connected small cities in the world.”

“With Hyperloop and high-speed rails, we, again, are right in the middle of the innovation,” he said.

The Chicago to Columbus route, known as Midwest Connect, was one of more than 2,600 proposals selected from more than 100 countries around the world.

Ryan Kelly, the head of marketing and communications for Virgin Hyperloop One, said the project is important because of what possibilities it brings to transportation.

“We haven’t had a new form of transportation in more than a hundred years,” Kelly said. “It’s exciting to think this is happening now and in a community like this.”

He said the company would use local labor for the construction of the rail system, employing engineers, welders and construction workers for building infrastructure.

Although tests have been done, the high-speed rail system is still years out but the company hopes to have safety certifications by 2024 and first projects open to the world by 2029.

Plans have the rail system as an electric and magnetic system of pressurized pods running through tubes at 670 mph, Kelly said, making the experience similar to both traditional rail travel and air travel. The pods would essentially float over the bottom rail system, which would eliminate the turbulence factor.

“It is more cost effective to have the system run above ground although it looks like we could have some below ground travel as well,” Kelly said. “In the Midwest, there is a lot of land and there are a lot of freight lines that are potentially under utilized so our right-of-way could sit in the right-of-way for existing freight lines.”

He added that the company could potentially partner with existing freight companies so that some of the rail lines could be reused and revitalized.

Currently, the pods would carry 28 passengers at a time, going both directions, but could carry up to 16,000 passengers per hour, Kelly said. The vehicles would not only be used for passenger transport but also for cargo, which he said, would work well with utilizing those existing freight companies.

Kelly said the system is designed to “move the masses” so the cost to use the Hyperloop would need to affordable to everyone. Officials conducted a travel study to determine an estimated cost for a trip.

They measured a trip from Kansas City to St. Louis, a distance of about three hours.

“We could make it in about a half an hour and it would be about the cost of a tank of gas,” Kelly said. “Equity is what we’re aiming for. This is something that would have to be accessible to everyone and that is the ultimate goal.”



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