Virgin Hyperloop heads to West Virginia to build $500 million test track

The future of high-speed travel?

Virgin Hyperloop

Ah, the Hyperloop. What started as a weird dream of Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in the past few years became something numerous companies started to pursue in a realistic fashion. Musk even gave others the green light to carry out their own plans as he pivoted to work on Boring Company projects. While it’s true a handful of companies are working to bring the super high-speed subway of sorts to life, Virgin Hyperloop is one of the most credible companies out there. And West Virginia will be home to the company’s next step.

The company said on Thursday it selected the state as the upcoming home of a $500 million certification center and test track. The facility will work to regulatory and safety standards alongside the US government and perfect the floating-pod transport network before it’s available for wide-scale use. Using magnetic levitation technology in vacuum tubes, pod vehicles could travel at speeds up to 600 mph. Virgin previously estimated a trip between New York and Washington, DC, could take just 30 minutes.

Virgin said construction of the new facility in West Virginia will begin in 2022 and hopes to receive safety certifications for the transportation method in 2025. “We’re one step closer to making hyperloop travel a reality for people everywhere,” Virgin founder Richard Branson said following the selection.

“Particularly as we look to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, it’s clear that we need a 21st century solution that will propel us forward, allowing us to not just rebuild, but actually evolve,” Virgin Hyperloop CEO Jay Welder added in the announcement. The company imagines connecting the entire US coast-to-coast with a hyperloop system to let people move more freely than before.

Based on Virgin’s timeline, and if all goes according to the company’s plan, the first hyperloop could open for business and welcome public passengers in 2030.

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