Mexloop and its proposed Mexico City-Guadalajara route. Mexloop and its proposed Mexico City-Guadalajara route. excélsior

CDMX to Guadalajara in just 38 minutes

Mexico proposal one of 10 winners in Hyperloop's global competition

Traveling from Mexico City to Guadalajara in 38 minutes with stops along the way in Querétaro and León may sound like science fiction but after an announcement yesterday, the improbable scenario is perhaps a step closer to becoming reality.

The 532-kilometer route was chosen as one of 10 winners in a global competition held by Hyperloop One, a company that wants to build an ultra-high-speed ground transportation system it describes as the first new major mode of public transportation in 100 years.

That means the route was considered one of the 10 most viable for construction of the futuristic system.

Routes in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and India are among the other winners selected from 2,600 submissions.

Fernando Romero, an architect who co-designed the new Mexico City International Airport and son-in-law of businessman Carlos Slim, headed the consortium that made Mexico’s proposal, known as “Mexloop.” Romero’s architecture and industrial design firm, FR-EE, teamed up with engineering companies Arup and Sener to make the bid. Romero said the proposal also has the backing of all levels of government.

Designed to be capable of reaching speeds in excess of 1,000 kilometers per hour, “Hyperloop One’s unique technology uses magnetic levitation to guide and lift the pod off the track,” according to the company’s explanatory video.

The 8.7-meter-long pod travels inside an energy-efficient tube which can either be above land or underground and where almost all the air has been removed by vacuum pumps, allowing the pod to travel as if it were “quietly flying at 200,000 feet above sea level.”

Successful tests were conducted in May albeit at much lower speeds.

Now that Mexico has been announced as a finalist, Hyperloop One will collaborate with the Romero-led consortium to determine the commercial viability of the route and if deemed feasible, the next step will be to begin the process of applying for the relevant permissions to build the project.

“This is Mexico’s moment,” Romero told a Hyperloop One research analyst who wrote about how the futuristic transportation mode could transform the central region of Mexico, whose population is expected to exceed 60 million by 2050.

According to the submission, a Hyperloop project in Mexico would build stations in strategic locations that take advantage of existing transport infrastructure including airports, freight rail hubs and subway, bus and rail stations. The new Mexico City airport could possibly be one terminus and the Guadalajara International Airport the other.

The project would have significant economic benefits by making the four cities on the proposed route more rapidly interconnected, the proposal argued, and it could also alleviate pressure on the nation’s highways.

The cost and time the project would take to complete is unclear although on its website Hyperloop One says a pre-feasibility study showed a cost of 38 million euros (US $45.4 million) per kilometer on a possible 500-kilometer route between Helsinki, Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden.

While higher than what it thinks other systems would cost, at that price the 532-kilometer Mexico City-Guadalajara route would cost almost US $24.2 billion, about 426.5 billion pesos.

The concept is the brainchild of Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and SpaceX.

Source: Excelsior (sp), Hyperloop One (en)

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