Virgin Hyperloop tests passenger travel

Two Virgin Hyperloop employees sat in the capsule on the first test drive with people. It should take another ten years before it is properly operated.

Test drive for employees: Technology boss Josh Giegel is sitting with passenger manager Sara Luchian in a capsule from Virgin Hyperloop in Las Vegas.

Dhe Virgin founder and billionaire Richard Branson’s “Hyperloop” transportation system has passed the first passenger test drive. The company announced on Sunday that an important safety test had been concluded that would make it possible to revolutionize the transport of people and goods.

On board the super high-speed capsule, technology director Josh Giegel and Sara Luchian, head of passenger comfort at Virgin Hyperloop, achieved a speed of 172 kilometers per hour, according to the company. “I had the pleasure of seeing history being made right before my eyes,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of Virgin Hyperloop and chairman of DP World.

The company had previously made around 400 unmanned journeys in the ten-kilometer test tube in Las Vegas, Nevada. A vacuum in the tube enables a magnetically driven transport capsule to travel at very high speeds and almost noiselessly due to the lack of air resistance.

A Hyperloop capsule at the Las Vegas proving ground
A Hyperloop capsule at the Las Vegas proving ground: Image: Reuters

The route between New York and Washington will one day take just 30 minutes. That would be twice as fast as a commercial jet flight and four times faster than a bullet train.

Virgin Hyperloop is aiming for certification by 2025 and commercial operation by 2030. The idea for the technology came from Tesla founder Elon Musk, before Branson pushed the development further.