By Matthew Green
LONDON (Reuters) – Passenger-packed pods speeding through vacuum tubes linking Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to European cities could prove a viable low-carbon alternative to short-haul flights, according to a study published on Wednesday.
Although hyperloop technology, which uses magnetic levitation to allow near-silent travel at airline speeds, has not yet proven feasible in large-scale operations, the airport said it was seriously exploring it as a potential form of sustainable transport.
“We are genuinely interested in where hyperloop could go,” said Hassan Charaf, head of innovation at Royal Schiphol Group, which owns and operates the airport, one of Europe’s busiest.
The airport conducted the study in partnership with Dutch company Hardt Hyperloop and it assessed how the system could potentially ease air travel congestion in the coming decades.
Although hurdles remain to realising the company’s vision of a Europe-wide hyperloop network powered by renewable energy, the founders hope climate commitments in the European Union’s Green Deal will spur greater investment.
“Hyperloop really has the potential to be the sustainable alternative to aviation,” Tim Houter, Hardt’s chief executive and a co-founder, told Reuters.
Hardt said it has also signed an agreement with a major European railway manager, which it declined to name, to jointly explore potential routes.
Founded in early 2017, and backed by investors including the Dutch national railway and Koolen Industries, a Dutch clean energy conglomerate, Hardt Hyperloop says it has since established Europe’s first full-scale hyperloop test facility.
Popularized by Tesla founder Elon Musk, hyperloop technology is also drawing growing interest in parts of China, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
(Reporting by Matthew Green; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)