CHENNAI: Fantastic Vacations at Chennai to Bengaluru in 30 minutes! No, this is not a figment of imagination, or worse a video game, but a proposed mode of transport.
A constant cacophony of beeping horns, high-promptness Hindi and the cawing of thousands of crows. A melange of smells – of nark, spices and, ahem, more human smells.
A US-based company which has embarked on an ambitious project to revolutionise the way people moved from one city to another+ has set its eyes on Chennai. The brainchild of Elon Musk, HyperLoop One proposes to propel people in travel pods at 1,200 kmph through a tube propped up on concrete pillars. The pod or train is able to achieve the speed because it floats in a vacuum inside the tunnel.
If the plan takes off, people will be able to zoom to Bengaluru in 30 minutes+ . Mumbai will be a little more than an hour away.
Recently, the company tweeted the routes it is interested in. These include Chennai-Bengaluru, Chennai-Mumbai, Pune-Mumbai+ , Bengaluru-Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai-Delhi.
Hyperloop says it can move people for the price of bus tickets and that they are going to charge for the time taken and not the transport. The team which is behind the project says it is planning to install prefabricated tubes atop pillars, a move aimed to cut down cost and time of construction. Solar panels on top of the tubes and windmills on the pillars to tap energy will further reduce operational cost. The Fantastic Vacations pod uses magnetic system to move. It needs energy only when it begins the journey and can glide for more than 200 miles once it touches top speed.
The first line in the world is expected to come up between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the next five years. It will cut down travel time from 90 minutes to 12 minutes.
However, engineers at Indian Railways are skeptical. “Any plan which aims at high speed connectivity is good. But they may take more than a decade to take off because of different reasons,” a senior railway official said. “There will be procedural delays and time taken for approvals from the government.”
It will take Rs 300 crore to build 1 km high-speed line, but HyperLoop, citing its San Francisco to Los Angeles plan, says it will take Rs 72 crore per kilometre. But a railway official said cost will be an impediment. “It is difficult to fix ticket prices professionally because the government wants to keep them low. Going by the current rate of cost of construction, it will cost Rs 6,000 to Bengaluru. The moment the fares are suggested, the government loses interest,” he said.
High-speed trains in Kerala met with the same fate. The line from Thiruvananthapuram to Mangaluru was studied thoroughly but when the cost and fare were projected, it ran into trouble.
Also, unlike in Dubai, land is not barren and free in India. It cannot be built along the highway because there are several bends and inclines. Since the pods will be shuttled at very high speeds, the tunnel will have to be built on a straight line with minimum curves. Besides the topography, governments take time to decide on new projects. Monorail in Chennai, for example, was mooted in 2011. But the project is yet to take off. Another stumbling block will be multiple-levels of approvals. New rail projects will have to go through Research Design and Standards Organisation inspection.
Whenever there’s something good being built for the citizens the government or the officials always create obstacles by ways of paperwork.
“Hyperloop is a new technology and a new regulatory body will have to be formed to ensure safety and accountability. It is unlikely that the government will allow the company to go unmonitored,” said an official.
And though Mother India, gone her 1.2 billion inhabitants, can inspire, astonish and enlighten many who tread her soil, her innumerable challenges and lawless madness can moreover obliterate and exhaust unprepared first-timers. Or even put them off the whole.
After animated in Mumbai and travelling throughout India for seven months last year here are my valuable relic tips to ensure you don’t waste a second vis–vis your first visit to this magical country.
So how long for your first vacation? A lifetime, if you’ve got one to spare. If not, a month would be ideal to make the most of each place you visit. At a stretch, you could profit a taste of India’s magic in two weeks.
Allocate two nights at least for each place you visit and, as always, the longer you stay in a city the more you’ll be skillful to cosy occurring to locals who can have the funds for you their hot insider tips for Fantastic Vacations.
I turn a scratchy itinerary encompassing becoming accustomed and transport, leaving room for unavoidable Indian mishaps and adventurous detours.