The fifth mode of transportation: How a global hyperloop network is coming about
From the first routes in 2029 to a core global network by 2050: an ambitious plan requires united action by stakeholders from all over the world.
Today, transport is responsible for nearly 30% of current CO₂ output–in Europe, this number hovers around 27%. The OECD’s most recent predictions suggest that demand for transportation — from population growth and economic development — is set to grow 2.5 times by 2050. That represents a 16% increase in global emissions, and the need for more than €51 trillion in global investment to try and meet the demand in a sustainable way.
An integrated hyperloop network at a global scale could save up to at least €3 trillion of that global transportation investment toward 2050 when compared to traditional modes of transport, which are already at their technical and regulatory limits.
Acknowledgement that a global hyperloop network is needed if we are to sustainably manage not just our passenger transport but cargo — which is growing even faster — has now arrived.
Europe has already incorporated hyperloop into its Sustainable & Smart Mobility Strategy as part of its Fit for 55 plans to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2033 (compared to 1990 levels).
On the other side of the Atlantic, the U.S. government has included hyperloop in its $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill with bipartisan support. In addition to that, the World Economic Forum has recognized hyperloop as one of the 20 new markets that will help drive economic transformation.
Mapping out the network
Imagine: it’s 2050, and the networked effects of one interoperable hyperloop system, which now spans Europe and joins seamlessly to an intercontinental hyperloop network, are finally a tangible reality. Some 100,000 km of hyperloop are in active use, with a further 82,000 km under construction. From energy efficient urban hubs, integrated into the current infrastructure, goods and passengers are arriving in European destinations and moving on through intercontinental ones, in one seamless flow. All of this working toward increasing mobility, economic gains, and the chances of hitting our climate targets immeasurably.
So, how far along the path to this destination are we today?
As Germany and France move to shift transport away from aviation toward ground-based systems through the taxation or ban of short-haul flights; Wales has halted building of any new roadways; and progress on anything like electric flightinches forward — the roadmap for the European hyperloop network is taking on concrete form right now.
Building out from a first pilot cargo route, hyperloop will join regions across the Netherlands and reach across borders to connect with other European hubs. Recent Hardt research shows that within the first fully operational year the corridor will enable the removal of over 1,000 trucks daily from the A4 expressway between Rotterdam and Amsterdam and adjacent roads. The expansion of the network will see the corridor increase even more in importance as an alternative to road transport, and will be expected to capture an equivalent of 2,517 trucks per day by 2050. As new routes are added and linked, the emergent hyperloop network will be able to move passengers and goods 100 km in just 10 minutes, with each route offering the capacity of a six-lane highway whilst using a fraction of the space.
Hyperloop as a fifth mode of transport will integrate with and relieve existing modes while potentially removing the need for short-haul flights altogether, contributing significantly toward achieving global Sustainable Development Goals for both individuals and organizations.