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Hype for Hyperloop in Canada: Half the Cost, Quadruple the Speed of Proposed High-Speed Rail Plan

TransPod, a Toronto startup that is building a hyperloop system to disrupt commercial transportation, released the results of its Initial Order of Magnitude Analysis this week, a report on the viability of building an ultra-high-speed line in Southwestern Ontario between the cities of Toronto and Windsor with multiple stops in between.

The study’s key finding is that building a TransPod system will cost half the projected cost of a high-speed rail line along the same route, while more efficient transportation for passengers and cargo at four times the top speed of traditional rail.

“Southwestern Ontario accounts for 50 per cent of the province’s GDP, and developing high-speed transportation for the region will absolutely benefit and strengthen its economic growth and global competitiveness,” said Sebastien Gendron, cofounder of TransPod. “But we need to future-proof ourselves, and we can’t continue with outdated technology.”

The Government of Ontario recently announced an investment of $15 million for an environmental assessment of its plans for an HSR line along the same Toronto-Windsor corridor.

“Countries like China, Japan, and South Korea have already moved past high-speed rail and begun building much faster trains using magnetic levitation—the age of high-speed rail has come and gone, and the technology will soon be obsolete,” added Gendron. “We strongly urge the Government of Ontario to consider hyperloop feasibility, for its cost efficiency and speed advantages, in its next assessment.”

The hyperloop system, in theory, would take a passenger from Windsor to Toronto or vise versa in 30 minutes versus two hours for high-speed rail. The hyerploop, averaging a speed of 700 kilometers per hour, can surpass 1,000 km/h. The total cost would be $10 billion, according to TransPod’s report—less than half of the cost of a high-speed railway.

“Smart infrastructure can help to alleviate environmental, economic, and even housing concerns, in order to sustain future growth,” said Gendron. “We cannot continue to be laggards, especially in a province whose economic growth and quality of life may potentially have rippling effects across the country.”

TransPod, a Canadian Startup Awards finalist, raised $15 million last year to fund its ambition for the hyperloop, which is technology first outlined by Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.