Sir Richard Branson beat Elon Musk to the punch on the hyperloop. Virgin made history today with the first completed Hyperloop passenger test. Company Co-Founder and CTO, Josh Giegel, and Director of Passenger Experience, Sara Luchian, were the first people to ride the Experimental Pod-2 (XP-2).
The Virgin Hyperloop train goes as fast as 47 meters per second through the Nevada desert. It’s from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, which is a 500-meter long journey. “For the past few years, the Virgin Hyperloop team has been working on turning its ground breaking technology into reality,” said Sir Richard Branson. “With today’s successful test, we have shown that this spirit of innovation will in fact change the way people everywhere live, work, and travel in the years to come.” The hyperloop was tested 400 times before, but never with passengers. Branson and the minds at Virgin Hyperloop are on their way to revolutionizing train travel.
Branson launched the company in 2014. Throughout the years, the company has gone by the name of Hyperloop Technologies, Hyperloop One, and Virgin Hyperloop One. “When we started in a garage over 6 years ago, the goal was simple – to transform the way people move,” added Josh Giegel. “Today, we took one giant leap toward that ultimate dream, not only for me, but for all of us who are looking towards a moonshot right here on Earth.”
Only 28 passengers can ride the train, which goes as fast as 670 mph. In the future, the hyperloop train ride will bring passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco — a 382-mile journey — in only 45 minutes. A plane takes an hour and a half. “Hyperloop is about so much more than the technology. It’s about what it enables,” said Sara Luchian. “To me, the passenger experience ties it all together. And what better way to design the future than to actually experience it first-hand?”
Independent Safety Assessor oversaw the tests. There’s a system that can detect off-nominal states and rapidly trigger appropriate emergency responses on the train. It is safe. “I can’t tell you how often I get asked ‘is hyperloop safe?,’” said Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop. “With today’s passenger testing, we have successfully answered this question, demonstrating that not only can Virgin Hyperloop safely put a person in a pod in a vacuum environment but that the company has a thoughtful approach to safety which has been validated by an independent third party.”
Hyperloop has been expanding recently. Last month, Virgin Hyperloop opened its Hyperloop Certification Center in West Virginia. The company is eligible for federal funding, too, so we could see the hyperloop train expand through the United States and the rest of the world. “I had the true pleasure of seeing history made before my very eyes – to witness the first new mode of mass transportation in over 100 years come to life,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, who’s the Chairman of Virgin. “I have always had tremendous faith in the team at Virgin Hyperloop to transform this technology into a safe system, and today we have done that. We are one step closer to ushering in a new era of ultra-fast, sustainable movement of people and goods.”
Virgin Hyperloop prides itself as “faster, safer, cheaper, and more sustainable than existing modes.” Branson and his associates are looking forward to the hyperloop’s future. Virgin Hyperloop wants more hyperloop trains in the country within years, not decades. The company is working with governments, partners, and investors across the globe to make that a reality.