Watch: Netherlands pioneering future of transportation, unveils hyperloop center

A groundbreaking innovation in transportation is underway in the northern Netherlands, where a 420-meter white steel tube parallels a railway line. This tube serves as the core of the European Hyperloop Center, set to debut this Tuesday. It signifies a pivotal stage for the development of Hyperloop technology, envisioned to revolutionize both passenger and freight transport.

Initially championed by Elon Musk, Hyperloop entails capsules propelled at speeds nearing 700 kph within low-pressure tubes via magnetic levitation. Advocates herald its efficiency surpassing that of short-haul flights, high-speed rail, and freight trucks.

Despite Musk’s ambitious vision of a Los Angeles to San Francisco route in 30 minutes, progress from concept to reality has been gradual. Sascha Lamme, director of the center, forecasts operational Hyperloop routes by 2030, with initial projects potentially in Italy or India.

However, skepticism persists. Robert Noland of Rutgers University critiques Hyperloop as a diversion from fundamental infrastructure needs due to its exorbitant costs.

Lamme counters skeptics, inviting scrutiny of the European Hyperloop Center’s capabilities. He emphasizes cost optimizations yet to be implemented, asserting competitiveness with high-speed rail.

The Veendam test center features a 34-section tube, maintained at low pressure by a vacuum pump, facilitating high-speed capsule travel. It’s funded by private investors, the provincial government, Dutch national government, and the European Commission.

Notably, the Veendam tube boasts a switch, enabling bifurcation into separate tubes—a crucial feature for network connectivity in real-world applications. Marinus van der Meijs of Hardt Hyperloop underscores the significance of lane switching for creating a comprehensive Hyperloop network.

As testing progresses, the challenge lies in securing governmental commitments and funding for route construction and technology development. Lamme stresses the need for both to realize Hyperloop’s transformative potential.