Like social network Twitter, which he wanted to buy for $44 billion, Hyperloop will become part of the capricious billionaire’s debit line. It is obvious that this train of the future, in comparison with which the TGV will look like a tortilla, will never see the light of day. This was not without consequences for the greater Southwest.
Elon Musk announced his Hyperloop project ten years ago, in July 2012. The originality of this train is that it does not run on rails. It comes in the form of capsules that can carry passengers or goods, which move in a vacuum in an elevated double tube thanks to electromagnetic propulsion. Hence the ability to develop an unrealistic speed of 1500 kilometers per hour.
As crazy as it sounds, the Hyperloop project has attracted many industrialists, especially in California, Nevada, and Canada, as well as local elected officials, especially in Haute-Vienne and Toulouse. In 2018, Toronto-based startup TransPod selected the village of Droux near Limoges to lay a 3-kilometer test track on an abandoned section of a rail line. His car should reach speeds of about 1000 kilometers per hour. A building permit was filed in August 2018, but two years later, nothing has changed and Covid cannot be held solely responsible for it, despite forward-looking denials from TransPod leaders who received two million euros in regional aid.
72 seconds in Marseille
In September 2021, TransPod CEO Sébastien Gendron was still confirming that Hyperloop was not dead and that work had to begin. English investors were even ready to contribute 500 million euros to the project.
Another company, this time American, has implemented a project in Toulouse, the capital of the region, away from the TGV. In February 2018, he opened a research center at the Toulouse-Francasal airfield, which employs about thirty engineers and doctoral students. The planned speed of the train is more modest: from 400 to 500 km / h, but Toulouse and Montpellier were supposed to connect in 20 minutes. The first 320-meter test track has been laid, prompting skepticism from rival TransPod boss, for whom a track of less than one kilometer is too short. Another 1.2 km track is planned, but in December 2021, the American company says it is throwing in the towel.