Promising to develop the “world’s most revolutionary train service,” Sir Richard Branson has invested in Hyperloop, the futuristic transportation technology.
Sir Richard initiated a $85m (£65m) investment in the California-based company, Hyperloop One, that is the first to test the high-speed magnetic levitation technology successfully. As part of the deal, the company will be renamed as Virgin Hyperloop One and enter the Virgin Group umbrella of Sir Richard.
Hyperloop is the brainchild of the chief executive of Tesla, Elon Musk. It involves pods that are being propelled through a near-vacuum at speeds of a maximum of 700mph. Musk has introduced the system as a new form of high-speed travel that could shorten the time between cities from hours to minutes.
Last month, Sir Richard joined Hyperloop One’s funding round which valued the company at more than $700m.
Virgin Hyperloop One will join the sprawling business empire of Sir Richard, which includes high-speed rail investments in Virgin Rail and Virgin Galactic, his space flight venture.
Hyperloop One, during its latest phase of testing, reached 192mph over a route of under 450 metres. It has proposed routes across the United States and a route that will transport passengers from London to Edinburgh in just 50 minutes.
“Earlier this summer I was fortunate to visit the site and see first-hand the exciting technology being tested,” said Sir Richard. “I was very impressed and now look forward to helping turn this cutting-edge engineering into a global passenger service.”
Sir Richard informed reporters that people could see a Hyperloop that is developed in the next two to four years. While its price has been lauded as being cheaper than developing high-speed rail, questions remain over the technology, with reports from 2016 that proposals for a Hyperloop in the Los Angeles Bay Area would cost around $84m and $121m per mile, significantly more than what was originally predicted.