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Ohio officials announce results of Midwest hyperloop feasibility study

15 June 2020

A hyperloop route connecting Columbus, Chicago, and Pittsburgh would create $300 billion in economic benefits for the region and reduce CO2 emission by 2.4 million tonnes.

Image courtesy of Virgin Hyperloop One

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) has released the results of their Midwest Connect study, exploring a hyperloop connection between Columbus, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. 

“Hyperloop is fundamentally about more than just getting from A to B quickly,” said Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One. “It’s about the enormous benefits – the economic uplift, the job creation, the emission reductions, and the opportunity to fundamentally change the way people live and work. We’re proud to be working with MORPC to continue advancing a hyperloop route in the Midwest.”

The study was conducted by AECOM as part of MORPC’s Rapid Speed Transportation Initiative (RSTI) that focuses on better, faster connections from Columbus to Chicago and Pittsburgh, spurring economic growth, generating opportunities for development, and creating new opportunities for people and businesses in the Midwest megaregion.

“We have continued to advance the work along this corridor ever since winning the Virgin Hyperloop One Global Challenge in 2017 and conducting this feasibility study was one of our first, major action steps. The main takeaway is that hyperloop technology is, indeed, feasible along this route,” said Thea Ewing, Transportation & Infrastructure Development Director at MORPC.

Image courtesy of Virgin Hyperloop One

The technical and commercial feasibility of hyperloop was confirmed by analysing route alignments, comparative costs, engineering complexity, public right of ways, environmental constraints, ridership volumes, and travel behaviour.

Through rigorous third-party analysis, the study found that hyperloop would connect Chicago and Columbus in under 45 minutes with an estimated ticket cost of $60 – compared to nearly 6 hours driving or a plane ticket costing about $100 – and Columbus to Pittsburgh in under 30 minutes with an estimated ticket cost of $33 – compared to nearly 3 hours driving or a plane ticket costing about $150.

To further the realisation of the Midwest Connect hyperloop project, MORPC plans to create a travel and economic demand advisory panel to improve and further refine the high-level analyses developed. To continue advancing the regulatory framework for hyperloop technology MORPC and their partners have submitted a proposal to host the Hyperloop Certification Centre (HCC), which would allow hyperloop to achieve key technological milestones, like faster speeds and turning, and political ones, like creating a national framework for safety certification.

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