The Czech Republic’s second city, Brno, has signed a memorandum with the company behind a revolutionary transport concept, the hyperloop.
The hyperloop is a pressurized tube in which a capsule containing travellers could move at speeds of up to 1220 kilometres an hour. The system is a bit like a much bigger version of the pneumatic tube system that is still used in the Czech Republic for sending post, packages, and small items around big institutions such as hospitals.
The businessmen behind the idea is Elon Musk, of electric car fame, with the first hyperloop project proposed between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The significant implications for other types of transport, such as rail and air, or even living and working are fairly clear.
To put the concept in context, use of the Hyperloop would cut the current road and rail travel time between Prague and Brno from just over two hours to around 10 minutes. Plans for a fast rail link between Prague and Brno have been kicking around for decades without much progress on the ground and nothing much expected before 2040.
The Brno memorandum is fairly open ended, essentially opening the door for Brno companies and research centres to cooperate in the development of a technology which is still evolving and best tested. But Brno city leaders have expressed interest in the idea that the loop could link Prague, Brno, and Vienna.
In neighbouring Slovakia, the hyperloop has been given greater government backing with an eye to its fast introduction between Bratislava and Vienna with its possible extension to Budapest. Another version would see the loop linking all the Visegrad Four capitals by adding Warsaw to the trio. A memorandum was signed with the Slovak government in March last year with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, which also earmarked Bratislava as a possible innovation and development hub with up to 1,000 people employed there in the long term.
The Czech government reaction has been, according to the daily Mladá Fronta Dnes, much more cautious. The paper said a report by the Ministry of Transport warned that the technology for the hyperloop is still not advanced enough for it to become reality and that a watching brief should be kept on developments.
Other governments have shown a lot of interest in the concept with Dubai one of the frontrunners to have a hyperloop up and running and talks reportedly taking place with Russia, India, and Turkey. The hyperloop company would like the first system to be up and running within three years.
The construction costs of the hyperloop are put at around 300 million crowns (around 1.1 million euros) per kilometer.
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