Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Hyperloop may not be coming to California anytime soon but that doesn’t mean other global municipalities aren’t investigating the super-fast, vacuum tube transportation system. This week, Hyperloop-One announced that it was in talks with Moscow-based Summa Group, a Russian port, telecom and oil business headed by mysterious billionaire Ziyavudin Magomedov, to explore building the transportation system that is expected to eventually surpass the speed of sound.
Last week Hyperloop One and Russian holding company the Summa Group struck an agreement with the city of Moscow to explore building Hyperloop One systems in Russia’s capital region. The feasibility study is the next step toward developing a bankable plan and a rights of way that would get the funding to become Russia’s first Hyperloop. The deal was signed at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum by Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin, Summa Group chairman Ziyavudin Magomedov and Hyperloop One chairman and cofounder Shervin Pishevar.
It should be noted that these talks are extremely preliminary but it seems to me that there’s at least as much opportunity outside the US as inside for Hyperloop. To that end, investors are already looking at bringing the west coast of Russia Hyperloop for cargo carrying applications.
Russian transportation minister Maksim Sokolov, also at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, found what he says is a promising first location for Russia’s first Hyperloop: a 70-kilometer run between China’s mineral and manufacturing heavy Jilin province and Zarubino, a port on Russia’s Far Eastern coast. Zarubino still has a bucolic feel to it. Fifteen years from now, with decent global trade growth and a warming climate, Zarubino could grow into a bustling Hyperloop terminal—free of truck pollution–where Jilin carmakers ship containers of finished automobiles at cruising speeds of 700 mph to port-side cranes to be lifted onto ships for export.
Sokolov intends to co-fund the project with the Chinese. “We have a fund to support the Silk Road projects. I believe that this project may count on 100% co-financing from this fund,” he said. Discussions with the federal government are underway for a second feasibility study, with an agreement expected later this year. Russian news site RT.com quoted Sokolov saying that a 70-kilometer cargo Hyperloop in Russia’s Far East would cost $450 million to $607 million, less than half the price per mile of the 770-kilometer high-speed rail link planned between Moscow and Khazan that’s expected to cost $15 billion.
Hyperloop One has said it plans to demonstrate publicly a full prototype of the technology by the end of 2016.