More than a pipe dream: Europe’s hyperloop ambitions

by | 20. July 2023

Would you like to be propelled that over 700 kilometres per hour through a tube? Hyperloop technology could make that a reality — if Europe can rise to the challenge

Europe’s future could be one of enhanced connectivity, where passengers could get from Paris to Madrid in just 90 minutes, with almost no greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the future hyperloop technology promises: one of seamless, high-speed, climate-friendly mobility.

The concept has garnered significant attention throughout the continent in recent years and sparked debate regarding its potential, challenges and future prospects. While several European companies are already testing this technology, key issues still need to be addressed before hyperloop systems can become operational, such as its dependence on resources like lithium and rare earths that are currently sourced from China.

At its essence, the hyperloop system proposes the use of low-pressure, ‘near vacuum’ tubes to propel pods, carrying passengers or transporting cargo, at speeds of between 700 and 1,000 km/h, rivalling aeroplanes, all while consuming significantly less energy.

The pods would use a linear electric motor, similar to that of an electric car, to operate on magnetic propulsion. Simply put, they would be surfing on a magnetic wave. Further, through a ‘switch’ mechanism, the pods would be able to change lanes or arrive at multiple destinations, eliminating the need for moving components in the infrastructure. By simply pulling itself to the right or left, the vehicle can navigate different routes.

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