Indian Railways to join hands with IIT Madras for the development of ‘indigenous’ Hyperloop system as well as set up a Centre of Excellence for Hyperloop Technologies at the premier institute. The Hyperloop system works on a technology that utilizes magnetic levitation in low-pressure tubes to transport both, goods and people at airplane-like speeds. According to the Railway Ministry, the low requirement of energy as well as the major role that this technology can play in making India Carbon neutral, makes Hyperloop an attractive proposition for the national transporter. Therefore, the Railway Ministry has been looking for potential partners as well as domain experts for joint collaboration on the development of this emerging and evolving concept for passengers and cargo transportation, a PTI report said.
The Railway Ministry was informed that with an aim is to make India proud by showcasing its technologies to the world, a team consisting of 70 students, named “Avishkar Hyperloop”, formed by IIT Madras in the year 2017, has been applying scalability as well as frugal engineering concepts for the development of Hyperloop-based system for transportation. At the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition-2019, the group had finished in the top-10 global ranking and it was the only Asian team to do so. The “Avishkar Hyperloop” student team, at the European Hyperloop Week – 2021, had also bagged the ‘Most Scalable Design Award’.
In March 2022, IIT Madras approached the Railway Ministry with a proposal for collaborative work on the development of a contactless pod prototype as well as the development of a first-of-its-kind Hyperloop Test Facility at its Thaiyur’s Discovery Campus. The proposed facility, once established, would offer the largest Hyperloop Vacuum Tube in the world that can be utilized as Test Bed for further research on Hyperloop by the national transporter. IIT Madras sought support from Indian Railways for manufacturing assistance, safety regulations’ formulation as well as access to its electrical testing facilities. Besides, the institute has also requested funding support by the Railway Ministry for taking this project ahead. The project’s estimated cost is Rs 8.34 crore as conveyed by IIT Madras.
The project deliverables for the national transporter would include detailed design documentation for Pod, Tube & Track, detailed testing as well as performance data for pod prototype and vacuum tube, provide the national transporter with Hyperloop track as a testing platform for the development of Pod technology in the interim and offer training to Railway Personnel for Hyperloop technologies. Also, the institute has proposed to set up a “Centre of Excellence for Hyperloop Technologies” at IIT Madras through the existing Centre of Railway Research at IIT Madras.
According to the officials, the plan is to build a 500 m tube (Diameter of 2 m) as well as track capable of supporting various propulsion and levitation system configurations to allow rapid development of pod technology. The tube will be at par with USA’s Virgin Hyperloop facility in terms of functionality but will outperform it in terms of cost significantly, the Railway Ministry said.