Steven Carden, transport and innovation expert at PA Consulting, discusses how coronavirus could accelerate a European Hyperloop with Greentech Media (GTM).
Following the coronavirus outbreak, and momentum for low-carbon policies and investment, the article discusses with experts if now is the critical time for Europe to push things forward, and align itself to hyperloop projects as an affordable, clean and fast alternative to short-haul air traffic.
Steven Carden told GTM that the two main barriers for hyperloop networks are funding the capital-intensive technology development and creating regulations for such a novel technology.
“The individual who signs off on that and says it's safe for the public to use…well, that's a big ask," Steven said. "That person is going to want a lot of evidence to support it. That inevitably means lots of time and effort.”
Steven thinks the coronavirus pandemic could trigger a distinct and lasting shift in the way people travel. People may seek to avoid being crammed into high-density fixed infrastructure, such as airports and packed trains, instead preferring a more point-to-point, lower-density network like a hyperloop. He says: “If transport moves in that way, the relative business cases between building another high-speed rail system versus trying a hyperloop route might shift."
A rejection of cramped city life by many is not unimaginable, Steven said, offering the potential example of someone living in England’s Lake District National Park and commuting to London by hyperloop when required. Meanwhile, governments may look to promote the knowledge economy as they focus on job development.
Steven goes on to say: “Creating expertise around a forward-facing technology like Hyperloop becomes a very attractive thing."
“I can only see the opportunities for hyperloop increasing because of COVID,” he continued.
“Infrastructure and investment in infrastructure across Europe will be one of the ways of digging ourselves out of a recession. You can see more money sloshing around in the system that could be put into a hyperloop.”