Infrastructure shift provides opportunity for Virgin Hyperloop One in West Virginia
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill has been enacted and is expected to provide funding opportunities for the proposed Virgin Hyperloop One project in West Virginia.
WVU’s executive director of Vantage Ventures, Sarah Biller, said they would compete for infrastructure money with traditional rail services as “emerging technology.”
Hyperloop technology would transport people or goods in pods at over 600 miles per hour.
It was proposed to build a $ 500 million hyperloop certification center on 800 acres in Grant and Tucker counties in October 2020. The online announcement was made by Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and John Chambers, a native of West Virginia and former president of Cisco Systems and US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
“Whether through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement Program (CRISI), $ 5 billion has been allocated to it,” said Biller. “Or the Federal Rail Administration where we see $ 56 billion in funding.”
Biller said work is underway to prepare the first of many grant applications.
“Starting this Friday, we will be submitting a grant that will provide core funding and anchor our private partners to us,” Biller said. “To begin to see West Virginia as a place where advanced surface transport has a home.”
The technology was successfully tested with passengers in a 500-meter vacuum tube outside of Las Vegas in November 2020. Company officials said the technology would reduce travel time between New York City and Washington DC. about 30 minutes.
Biller said his first grant application would show the important role hyperloop technology could play in the supply chain.
“Using a hyperloop system to more efficiently move perishables and, more importantly, food,” Biller said. “We are doing this because we see West Virginia has a role to play in reducing food insecurity in the country. “
West Virginia was initially selected from 17 other possible locations. At the time, the CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One noted the partnerships created to develop the presentation that ultimately brought the center to West Virginia.
“We think we are ahead of the game because of how the state – our public partners, our private sector and our academia have come together around the hyperloop, but we still have to be competitive,” Biller said.
The certification center includes a five-mile test track that sets standards for speed, turns and elevation changes. The site will also include an operations, maintenance and safety training center. The project and certification center is expected to create thousands of jobs and generate an annual economic impact of $ 48 million when completed.
“A new form of efficiency in a way that also reduces the carbon footprint of transport,” Biller said. “And also, helps us advance other innovations in the adjacent industry.”
The project will also present advanced learning opportunities for students at WVU and Marshall University.