Ukraine and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies: Does the Deal Have a Future?

When on the 22 nd of February, 2018, the Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure announced the participation of Ukraine in the Hyperloop project, the public took this as a joke. Indeed, it sounded like Ukraine wants to skip tens of steps in the development of infrastructure. With time, jokes became out-of-date, and pure calculations and predictions started to appear on the web.

They say that people are never ready to innovations and take them with humor. Elon Musk made a lot of things that sounded impossible, and he continues doing this. World development is in the hands of the dreamers, and looks like Volodymyr Omelian is one of such dreamers. First, people think that the news about Hyperloop is a bubble, then the memorandum is considered as a weak one, later the test platform is not taken seriously, and finally, a trip by Hyperloop becomes a common routine thing.

What Is Hyperloop: Brief Background

Hyperloop is an innovative transport system offered by Elon Musk. It is a tube in a form of a loop, in which a hermetic capsule can move at a speed of 1000 km per hour. The tube is fixed on the pylons situated 30 meters far one from another and on the height of 6-30 meters from the ground (depending on the landscape). Inside the pipe, there is rarefied air. The capsule starts moving on 15-meters long rail, where an electric impulse triggers the movement. The further movement is maintained by the air. A compressor which is on the nose of the capsule captures the rarified air and directs it under the capsule. The air pillow thus pushes the capsule.

Capsules may be for passengers or cargoes. The passenger one can transport 28 people. All the passengers are to stay at their seats with the seat belts fastened, and the movement around the salon during the trip is prohibited.

Steps So Far

Since the announcement of Ukraine’s being ready to participate in the building of the Hyperloop connection on the 22 nd of February, 2018, not much has been done. The recent news says about the signing of the memorandum about a cooperation between Ukraine and the biggest developer of the Hyperloop technologies in the world: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies on the 14 th of June, 2018. The analogical project is being developed in 9 countries of the world including France and UAE. The memorandum is an agreement to join the efforts in the project’s development in terms of technological developments and searching for the investors for the project. There are a lot of critics on this memorandum claiming that it does not oblige any side to take any actions. Still, the step forward has been made.

Economical Side of the Project

Concerning the economic side of the project, the thoughts of the experts vary a lot.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies claim that the project will break even in 12 years even though the evaluated cost of building of 1 km of the connection is $20,000,000. It is a good thing for Ukraine since the railway can never come to a break-even point: it is always being built at the governmental costs and then there are a lot of needs that require more investments. Moreover, building of the regular railway is claimed to be costlier.

According to the data by Ukrainian Institute for Future, here are the estimated evaluation of how much it will take to build s Hyperloop in Ukraine:

Component

Cost (in US$ millions)

Tube

556.94

Building of the pylons

1514.2

Engines

140

Solar and regular batteries

180

Station and vacuum pumps

250

Capsules

54

Spending on the building companies

823.5

Other needs

50

Total

3568.64

Based on the high costs of the project, Ukrainian business people and officials often suggest building and selling the equipment for Hyperloop.

Why Does Ukraine Need It?

Volodymyr Omelian is convinced that the project is beneficial for Ukraine in any case, even though this is a “project for the free time” for the Ministry of Infrastructure currently working on the urgent needs. Ukrainian companies taking part in this project can claim themselves as the pioneers of the innovative technologies. During the realization of this project, they will be able to find a lot of technological solutions not only for Hyperloop, but for a lot of other spheres: new engines, new infrastructure, etc. The thing is not about whether Hyperloop will go or not, but this is a chance for Ukraine to activate its technological and intelligent potentials.

4 Steps of the Project

To build a Hyperloop in any country, 4 stages should be passed:

1.       Scientists, governmental structures, and private companies develop the project in accordance with the company’s demands.

2.       The project is being presented by Virgin Hyperloop One.

3.       The evaluation of the practical success of the project is being carried out. The duration of it is around a few months and the cost is $20 million.

4.       After the project is confirmed to be perspective and meeting all the necessary requirements, the test platform building is launched.

Hyperloop in Ukraine is obviously on the first step, but as per the Omelian’s evaluation, the optimistic prognosis for Ukraine is to have Hyperloop launched in 2023-2025 after the first trip by Hyperloop presented in Abu-Dhabi in 2020.