The Boring Company, the tunnelling company founded and led by Elon Musk, has received a written permit to begin excavating space for a Hyperloop tunnel beneath Washington, DC.

The agreement signals the beginning of a multi-state underground Hyperloop system of the US east coast, and comes following verbal approval from the state of Maryland to tunnel for 10.1 miles beneath the state-owned parts of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. The company will be able to conduct preparatory and excavation work at a fenced-off car park at 53 New York Avenue, with the aim of building an underground loop to connect the cities of Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York.

“We’re just beginning, in the mayor’s office, our conversation to get an understanding of what the general vision is for Hyperloop,” said John Falcicchio, chief of staff to Washington mayor Muriel Bowser.

“We’re open to the concept of moving people around the region more efficiently.”

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The Boring Company claims that a completed Hyperloop in the region would cut journey times from Washington to New York from three hours via train to just 29 minutes.

The Hyperloop service involves autonomous electric pods moving at upwards of 600mph through an underground tube. Vacuums are drawn in the tubes to eliminate air friction, and allow between eight and 16 passengers to travel in each pod at high speeds. The Boring Company also offers a service known as Loop, which operates across smaller distances, and involves the transportation of vehicles on stabilised electric skates that can reach up to 150mph.

The Boring Company is adamant that its developments will not disrupt Washington financially or geographically.

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“Once a TBM [Tunnel Boring Machine] is below a certain depth (approximately two tunnel diameters – or 28 feet in this case), the tunnelling process is almost impossible to detect, especially in soft soil,” reads its website.

“The Boring Company is privately funded and our individual projects will be privately funded as well.”