US-based transportation technology company Virgin Hyperloop One has announced plans to build a long-range hyperloop test track in Saudi Arabia.
The company has entered a partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Economic City Authority (ECA) to conduct a preliminary study to build the hyperloop track.
The study will focus on King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), situated 100km from Jeddah, and will assess the feasibility of building a 35km-long test and certification track.
This move is expected to support the development of specific hyperloop technologies, as well as local expertise and hyperloop supply chains.
Additionally, Virgin Hyperloop One will explore building a research and development centre, as well as a hyperloop manufacturing facility north of Jeddah.
Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Jay Walder said: “A hyperloop system could help enable Saudi Arabia to become a global transportation powerhouse, nurture the nation’s innovation and entrepreneurial culture, and grow an innovative knowledge workforce.
“I look forward to this collaboration with our visionary partners in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to turn this technology into a mass transportation solution.”
Virgin Hyperloop One’s technology involves using depressurised tubes to transport cargo and passengers on specially designed pods at speeds nearly three times faster than existing high-speed rail systems.
The hyperloop technology will enable connectivity between Riyadh and Jeddah in 76 minutes, which currently takes more than ten hours.
It will help to reduce journey times across Saudi Arabia, as well as facilitate connectivity with the member states of the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC).
Last year, Virgin Hyperloop One signed an agreement with Spanish infrastructure agency Administration of Railway Infrastructure (Adif) to open a research and testing facility.
The facility, to be located in the Andalusian region, involves an investment of around $500m.