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How Hyperloop Is Set to Revolutionize High-Speed Transit

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Answer by Bruce Upbin, VP of Strategic Communications at Hyperloop One:

There are a few: cost, speed, safety, and flexibility. (Obvious caveat: Hyperloop networks don't exist yet and high-speed rail networks do. Advantage: HSR!)

Cost is a tricky comparison because the capex and opex numbers are entirely dependent on route, terrain, what you're transporting, how fast, and how often. But we think we can offer 2 to 3 times the performance for less money. Hyperloop systems will be able to travel at speeds north of 500 mph. Typical high-speed rail systems are well under half that. An auditor we worked with estimated that a Hyperloop system can be built for 60% of the cost of high-speed rail. We have numbers coming out shortly that are far more route-specific that will reinforce this conclusion. Most of the savings comes from less intrusive civil engineering work and having to add propulsion to only a small fraction of the track compared to high-speed rail, which is usually electrified the whole way. Maintenance is significantly less also due to our contactless track.

Hyperloop is safer because we don't build at-grade. We're either on columns or underground, reducing the risk of collisions with other vehicles or people. We're also autonomous and unaffected by weather. If you take away at-grade crossings, pilot error, and weather, you eliminate roughly 90% of rail accidents.

Speed gets all the headlines but Hyperloop's other huge advantage is flexibility. Our systems are designed to be on-demand, with passenger pods leaving every few minutes or at even shorter intervals. It's packetized travel. Most high-speed rail departures are once or twice an hour. With Hyperloop, you'll be able to leave or arrive when you want and you don't have to kill time getting bad coffee and pretzels at the bahnhof.

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