Why India needs the Hyperloop
The population of India represents 18 percent of the world’s total population which arguably means that one person in every 5 people on the planet is a resident of India. As per current growth trends, India will surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2022, six years earlier than was previously forecast. China’s population will peak at 1.4 billion in 2028; India’s four decades later at 1.75 billion.
For a country with a population of 1.25 billion, almost one-fifth of the world’s population, any drastic surge in the existing transport systems cannot be enough. India has the largest traffic in the world and most number of people commute everyday by conventional means i.e. cars, trains and planes.
While India is one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world, it is also a large under-served market. The Indian economy has, over the past decade, witnessed a sharp upturn represented by a 7.5% to 9.6% growth of GDP and 20% plus growth of exports. This, in turn, has given rise to an accelerated demand for land transport services of the order of nearly 12% per annum, which the land transportation systems in the country are currently not equipped to handle.
The Hyperloop is a new way to move people or things anywhere in the world quickly, safely, efficiently, on-demand and with minimal impact to the environment. The system accelerates a passenger or cargo vehicle through a steel tube in a near-vacuum using that linear electric motor. The autonomous vehicles glide comfortably at faster-than-airline speeds over long distances due to the extremely low aerodynamic drag and non-contact levitation. There are no direct emissions, noise, delay, weather concerns nor pilot error. By eliminating the three fundamental things that prevent modern transportation from reaching its full potential – air resistance, friction and energy dependency on the grid/fossil fuels – the Hyperloop seeks to change the way humans think about transportation.
Development of Hyperloop is one of the ways to leapfrog Indian transportation. By providing a faster, non-disruptive, pollution-free option to commute, while using levitation-based technologies to operate and move both passengers and cargo, the Hyperloop fits in well with the Mission 350 Plus Initiative declared by the Ministry of Railways in August 2016.
Where in India
Although we would like to see the entire country live the Hyperloop Dream, we have to understand that we need to proceed step-wise. As part of our initial step, we will take inspiration from the government of India’s live project: The government’s “Make in India” initiative is a growth strategy based upon development of economic corridors whereby policy initiatives to spur manufacturing and overall growth are coordinated with transport corridors linking both developed and backward regions. The vision is to create a globally competitive manufacturing sector supported by world class infrastructure, logistics facilities, and a liberal policy regime. This scheme can serve as the much needed gateway that Hyperloop needs to enter India.
One of the key requirements for thinking about transport strategy while developing the Indian Hyperloop Corridor is that it must be system based. Keeping this in mind and building upon further, our study of the potential Hyperloop route in India cuts across modes of transport administrative geographies, and integrates capital investment with regulatory and policy development.
Hyperloop Corridor in India- Mission Objectives:
The following rationale and philosophies were followed to arrive at the best corridor strategy to set-up the Hyperloop in India.
- Existing Corridor Integration: It should integrate well with existing/sanctioned industrial/dedicated freight corridors, and should not disrupt sanctioned Government transport plans.
- Passenger & Cargo Mobility: It should maximize the opportunities for both Passenger and Cargo transport between Origin and Destination pairs.
- Favorable Trends in Economic Geography: It should link high-potential markets found in fast-growing urban agglomerations
- Minimal Seismic Activity : It should be in areas with low seismic activity – zone factor of less than 0.16 according to IS Code.
- Incremental Phase-wise Strategy : It should be introduced in phases with relevant opportunities for socio-economic impact/benefits in all phases.
- High-Impact Demonstration Projects: Initial phases should maximize opportunities for low-infrastructure, high-impact setup which triggers a nationwide demonstration effect
Keeping the above in mind, the Mumbai-Bangalore-Chennai corridor with future plans to include Delhi, Hyderabad and Pune is the most ideal choice.
Five industrial corridor projects have been identified, planned and launched by the Government of India in the Union Budget of 2014-2015, to provide an impetus to industrialisation and planned urbanisation. In each of these corridors, manufacturing will be a key economic driver and these projects are seen as critical in raising the share of manufacturing in India’s Gross Domestic Product from the current levels of 15% to 16% to 25% by 2022. These corridors are : Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC); Bengaluru- Mumbai Economic Corridor (BMEC); Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC); Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC) and Amritsar-Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC). Perspective Planning is complete for BMEC, VCIC and AKIC are in the initial stages of implementation whereas master planning for all the three nodes in CBIC and all nodes except for ‘Dadri Noida Ghaziabad’ investment region under DMIC have been completed.
Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) have been envisaged to augment rail freight transportation capacity particularly on the Eastern and Western Corridors. The existing
trunk routes of Howrah-Delhi on the Eastern Corridor and Mumbai-Delhi on the Western Corridor are currently saturated with line capacity utilization varying between 115 per cent and 150 per cent. DMIC will cover the development of the 1540 km long Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) with 24 nodes (Investment Regions and Industrial Areas), and is expected to complete this by December 2019.
The DMIC promises to be the world’s largest infrastructure project upon completion estimated to cost around $100 billion and having two power plants, 24 smart cities, 23 industrial hubs, six airports, two ports and a six-lane expressway stretching 1,500 kilometres. However, it has already been planned, sanctioned and is being developed by the Government of India and will hence be inflexible to the development of the Hyperloop in the near future. The next two promising corridors are the BMEC and CBIC, linking the fast-growing economies and populations of Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, and plans of developing which can be strategically complemented by the Hyperloop.
Of India’s population, the largest urban population is consolidated in a few urban agglomerations. Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai together account for around 28 million of India’s population, and also house the top 3 of India’s busiest airports handling around 136 million passengers in just the first 6 months of 2016(“Top 10 Busiest Airports in India in H1-2016”. India Aviation Forum.) Hence Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai are poised to be the most promising urban cities in the world to link via the Hyperloop in the future, in terms of impact and of reaping economic benefits due to steadily growing raw passenger demand in these three cities.
What separates this corridor from the other corridors in India and the world is the unique way Mumbai and Chennai lie on the West and East coasts respectively, and flank both sides of the Indian peninsular plateau – this has lead to them becoming two of the busiest ports of the countries handling more than 36 percent (200 million tonnes out of total of 580 Million tonnes in 2014-15) of India’s freight traffic.
The plan is to connect the three major metropolitan cities, Mumbai-Bangalore-Chennai by Hyperloop network. With the introduction of the Hyperloop between these cities, we are connecting the two largest Ports in the country, JNPT in Mumbai and Chennai Port Trust as well as the large urban agglomerations of Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. The Hyperloop Stations in the above cities are chosen in such a way that they are well connected to all the major bus stops, airport and seaports. All the stations lie in an area where there is ongoing development and have less population density.
What Intermediary Stations between Mumbai-Bangalore-Chennai can the Hyperloop route include?
- The next station in our route after Mumbai is Pune, primarily because it’s the second largest city in Maharashtra and a major hub of manufacturing and automobile industries, as well as for research institutes of information technology (IT).
- Followed by Kolhapur, which is a major hub for textile industry . It attracts almost 3 million visitors per year.. Also the primary centre for Marathi film industry.
- Then comes Hubli -Dharwad – Government of Karnataka has identified ‘Dharwad’ as the first industrial node in Karnataka under the BMEC. Hubli is the second largest city in karnataka and lies at the focal point for four major Indian cities Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad.
- Tumakuru an industrial city located in the state of Karnataka, it’s also one of the cities in south India to be developed as a “Industrial Smart” city. Also the city has been selected as one among the 100 in the country shortlisted for the Smart City project. It will be the station just before Bangalore.
- Hosur an industrial city in the state of Tamilnadu and houses several automobile and manufacturing industries. It also has an advantage of being only 21 kms from the Electronic city.. our station in Bangalore is proposed to be in Yelahanka which is very far from most of the industries in Bangalore..
- Vellore district is the top exporter of finished leather goods in the country and a prominent destination for medical and technological education in India.
- Sriperumbudur – Very close to Chennai port, strategic location on the Chennai-Bangalore highway, heavy infrastructure development, establishment of Software Technology Parks and its proximity to Mahindra research valley and other research centres.
The advantages of decongesting and eventually connecting the ports of JNPT in Mumbai and Chennai are manifold as compared to implementing the Hyperloop in Jebel Ali port in Dubai, which is currently being planned by Hyperloop One. While a Jebel Ali port will deal only with transferring cargo to an inland container depot, a Hyperloop route linking Mumbai and Chennai region via Bangalore, will not only link the East and West coast of India in terms of trade and open up opportunities in domestic and foreign trade, due to India’s unique peninsular region, but will also enable the building of a passenger route on the same acquired land – thus leading to less infrastructure costs, less land acquisition costs and huge economic benefits by enabling massive amounts of both cargo and passenger flow along the same corridor.
That’s all we can reveal till now – Stay tuned till after Oct 28th for more!