It’s hard to dispute the nostalgia and romanticism that traveling by train provides. It might not be the quickest way to get from Point A to Point B, but there are precious few methods of transport that encourage slow travel, and a thoughtful, introspective approach to really seeing a country. And for good or for bad, India has really mastered slow travel thanks to its rail network. There’s 71,000 miles of track, 7,172 stations, and 8.4 billion passengers a year – none of whom get anywhere quickly.
But India’s 19th century rail system could be on the cusp of change. Yep, enter ‘Hyperloop’ – a futuristic scheme that, if implemented, could genuinely revolutionize train travel in the country. We’re talking reduced journey times between Delhi and Mumbai from 16 hours to 80 minutes, or journey times between Mumbai and Kolkata dropping from 26 hours to just one hour. No small feat.
As of yet, the scheme remains more possibility than reality. The tentative plans for it have been released by LA-based company Hyperloop One, who aim for trains to be propelled by electromagnetic levitation, a process used in China’s and Japan’s Maglev trains (where speeds are up to 700 miles per hour). The concept itself is thanks to Elon Musk AKA the man who has casual plans to colonize Mars.
Back on Earth though, you’re probably wondering how soon this could become a reality, not least because it’s estimated that the cost of a Hyperloop ticket would be similar to a train or bus ticket (even though journey times would be comparable to flight times). Well, according to Hyperloop CEO Rob Lloyd, interviewed by Business Standard, the first Hyperloop could be in production by 2021. Not too many years to go then, folks.
In terms of the transport improvements it could bring, it’s obvious that journeys would become much more efficient for travelers and locals in the world’s seventh largest and second most populous country. But changes would run deeper than that. According to Intrepid’s General Manager in India, Pravin Tamang, if the high speed train project became a reality it could “really revolutionize the tourism and travel industry in India.” Why? Well, people would be able to cover India, with all its expansive geography, in a matter of days or weeks. As Tamang points out, not only would this benefit corporate travelers and those on short breaks, but anyone wanting to see India’s epic diversity (erm, all of us) would be at an advantage. 2021 can’t come soon enough.
Featured image c/o iStock.