Hyperloop would reduce travelling time from Riyadh to Jeddah to 76 minutes - currently over 10 hours
Saudi Arabia could host the longest test and certification hyperloop track in the world after a partnership deal was struck between Virgin Hyperloop One, the futuristic rapid transit system backed by Dubai-based ports operator DP World, and the kingdom’s Economic City Authority (ECA).
Under the partnership agreement, a study will be conducted focusing on King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), 100km north of Jeddah, with a view to building a 35km test and certification track.
The track will create opportunities to develop specific hyperloop technologies as well as local expertise in Saudi Arabia, which will be commercialised and scaled.
“As we continue to help deliver the strategic pillars of Vision 2030, technology transfer and high-tech job creation opportunities that this relationship will bring are fundamental to our progress as a nation and our efforts to create opportunities for our bright young people,” said secretary general Mohanud A. Helal. “Having hyperloop at King Abdullah Economic City is going to act as a catalyst for a Saudi Silicon Valley effect and galvanize our software development, high technology research, and manufacturing industries.”
In parallel to the study, Prince Mohammad bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship will collaborate on the creation and publication of an academic paper outlining the economic impact of a Hyperloop Centre of Excellence in KAEC.
Additionally, experts from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) will visit the Virgin Hyperloop One testing facility in Nevada to conduct a technical review, followed by the publication of an academic paper.
“A hyperloop system could help enable Saudi Arabia to become a global transportation powerhouse, nurture the nation’s innovation and entrepreneurial culture, and grow an innovative knowledge workforce,” said Jay Walder, CEO, Virgin Hyperloop One.
Virgin Hyperloop One’s technology features depressurized tubes that carry on-demand passenger or cargo “pods” at speeds up to 1,080 kilometres per hour.
With speeds three times faster than high-speed rail and an on-demand, direct to destination experience, hyperloop technology can reduce journey times across Saudi Arabia, exponentially increasing connectivity across not only across the country but throughout the GCC.
Traveling from Riyadh to Jeddah on a hyperloop would take 76 minutes (currently over 10 hours) and can be used for both passenger and freight movement. While from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi would take just 48 minutes (currently over 8.5 hours).
Virgin Hyperloop One is working on a number of potential projects around the world, including Missouri, Texas, Colorado, the Midwest, India, and the United Arab Emirates.
In August last year, the company announced its intention to open an office in the UAE – the first outside the US – as it develops plans to transport people from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes.