Branson announces plans for a UK hyperloop

A hyperloop would be cheaper and faster than the planned high-speed rail network in the UK, Branson says

The ever-attention-seeking Richard Branson is on a big PR push at the minute. After the weekend’s news that Virgin plan to open a huge hotel in Edinburgh, Branson has now decided Britain needs a hyperloop.

Stating that his company Virgin Hyperloop One could connect Heathrow to Gatwick in six minutes and Stansted in 10, Branson also suggested building a hyperloop would be significantly cheaper and less disruptive than the current plans for a new high-speed rail network.

Leslie Horwitz/Hyperloop One
“The cost of building Virgin Hyperloop would be about a third of building high-speed rail,” Branson said – Leslie Horwitz / Hyperloop One

Virgin Hyperloop One is predicted to be able to reach speeds of 1080 km/h (670 mph) by travelling over an electromagnetic track and through vacuum tubes that reduce wind resistance.

Virgin’s mercurial founder told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours: “Most definitely it could be built in the UK, and it would end up transporting people far quicker, in far greater numbers, with far greater convenience than any other train network in the UK.”

“The cost of building Virgin Hyperloop would be, I think, about a third of building high-speed rail, and much, much quicker.

“It can either be underground, it can be on the ground or it can be above the ground.”

The idea was conceived by the tech billionaire Elon Musk, whose own PR took a battering over the weekend when he suggested he should be a gatekeeper for the press on Twitter.

Soon, he was accused of anti-semitism for asking: “Who do you think owns the press? Hello.”

Virgin Hyperloop One has built a 500-metre test track in Nevada. It is already working on connecting Mumbai to Pune in India.

There have also been plans from its competitors to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco, Washington DC and New York, and Aurora Colorado to Denver airport. One company is examining a loop between Prague, Brno and Bratislava.