All the questions you may have about TransPod, Hyperloop and tube transportation
Capacity, travel time and ticket price
How many passengers would ride each pod?
The TransPod system is closer to public transport than a high-speed train, and our initial data is 27 to 40 passengers per pod (depending on the interior configuration, or potential virtual coupling between pods), and departures every 2 minutes. The model is not like a mass transit system with departures at fixed times and carrying hundreds of travelers from point A to point B, but a more agile transport, carrying small groups of travelers within a network.
How many pods would circulate at the same time in a TransPod line?
The TransPod system is closer to a public transportation system than a high-speed train or airplane. We plan frequent departures of medium capacity pods to ensure a high level of fluidity. We are currently on a rate of departure every 2 minutes. On a line from Toronto to Montreal, this represents 22 pods at the same time in a tube (journey time is about 45 minutes, departure every 2 minutes, so between 22 and 23 pods at any one time in a tube).
What is the travel time between two stations?
Typical travel time between stations will be between 15 minutes and 1 hour. It is related to the average speed, which relies on many variables (geography, turns, elevation).
Will pods stop at each station?
No, we are designing switches and bypasses which will allow passengers of a pod to travel directly to their destinations, unlike a high-speed train, that stops at every station along the way.
What will be the acceleration of a pod?
We are not designing a space rocket, and we consider an acceleration similar to that of a train (0,1g), that is soft and comfortable for the passenger. It takes longer to reach full speed, but the comfort and safety of the passengers are our priorities.
What would be the approximate price of a ticket?
Just as it is possible to talk about line capacity overall, but not on a case-by-case basis, setting the ticket price is a utopian idea at this level. Too many variables come into play to determine how much will cost a trip between Paris and Toulouse, or between Toronto and Montreal. On the other hand, we can say that we are working in such a way as to obtain a ticket price similar to that of the high-speed train.
Economic model and operations
Will transpod build the future transportation corridors?
We are positioning ourselves as developers of this technology rather than as a manufacturer and line operator. TransPod will be the supplier of the rolling stock, and will bring its expertise in the construction and the development of the line. On the other hand, and in order to assist our future customers, we also do the first part of the work ourselves by conducting feasibility studies, and building business models, infrastructure designs and engaging in industrial partnerships.
Would this mode of transport compete with the plane or the rail?
The TransPod system competes with short and medium-haul aircraft. For example, it takes 5 hours to go from Toronto to Montreal by plane, and 5:30 by train (door to door). Traveling on the ground at the speed of the plane, for a price similar to that of a high-speed train, makes sense. On the other hand, long-haul flights will always be necessary to cover the great distances and cross the oceans. Similarly, we intend to compete with the diesel train as the benefits are demonstrated through transportation time, environmental sustainability, and to free the tracks for the transport of goods.
TransPod network and infrastructure
Will each new station require new vacuum tubes?
No, we are developing a switching system that serves intermediate cities on secondary tracks, on a similar operation to the New York subway, or "pit stops" in motor racing. Around each station, there will be 4 tubes (main line and access to the station), and all along the line, only 2 tubes, the pods can either take the switch and stop, or continue on their route if they are scheduled for an express direct route. At the stations, the type of trip (direct, with multiple stops, etc.) will be indicated for travelers to board the pod that serves their destination.
What infrastructure will be needed to operate a transpod line?
Like a new metro or a new tramway, the TransPod system requires its own infrastructure, running in a tube and on no existing infrastructure (rail or road). However, the time is not for competition, but for integration. Thus, the stations will have to be multimodal. The TransPod station will have to be installed near the urban centers, or close to a public transport "hub" allowing the passengers to fully benefit from the time saved by the system.
Test site in Haute-Vienne
Will there be permanent jobs created in the area other than construction workers?
Once the construction phase is over, we aim to hire between 10 and 20 full-time positions (the activity may vary according to the test phases). Candidates include PhDs at the University of Limoges, researchers, engineers and operators. Administrative staff will be quite minimal and will focus on support functions and security. Jobs will be created at the test track site. Our desire is to hire locally, and people will come from surrounding communities. Depending on the profiles and skills sought, we will broaden the search area if necessary.
How will the site be visible to locals? Will it prevent their travel in the area?
Different parts will be visible: the maintenance building at the south end and the turnaround building at the north end of the line. Both should fit into the landscape to limit visual pollution. In between, a 2m diameter steel tube will be placed on concrete pads at ground level, to limit the visual impact.
For security reasons, the site will be fenced, and access to the public will be forbidden. Unless some tests are happening, it will be possible for some visitors to walk along the tube provided that people are accompanied by TransPod personnel.
Will the test vehicle be modeled on a passenger or cargo pod?
The technological elements allowing levitation, propulsion, braking and power transmission, security systems, sensors and radio systems will be built into the test vehicle and implemented towards our final pod design. The prototype will not contain a pressurized cabin for the transport of goods or passengers. We foresee a variant that would contain a pressurized module filled with sensors, and allow us to observe the behavior of the structure during a very high speed test.
Beyond the test, is it planned to create a high-speed line (Limoges / Paris / Toulouse / Poitiers) thanks to this technology?
It is too early to talk about building a line and we still have a lot of work before we get to have the regulation, finance, construction and operation teams around the same table. However, we must prepare the groundwork for this phase.
Today, France is concentrating on the rehabilitation of secondary regional lines and the examination or abandonment of TGV projects. Vacuum train technology is a great complement to the current network.
Will the test line bring the test vehicle to full cruising speed?
The 3km test track site is not long enough to reach the full speed planned for operations. We chose a 1/2 scale prototype for this site which allows us to use less power than to propel a prototype scale 1 at the same speed. Even so, we will only be able to reach about 600km/h (370mph) on this 3km test line. This is why we plan to either extend the test line in a second phase, or use a longer scale test line 1, to reach the maximum speed of our specifications (1200km/h or 745mph).
In the infographics, it says that the test vehicle is to scale ½. Will the tube also be ½ scale?
Absolutely, the whole system is 1/2 scale. So the diameter of the tube is 2m, which makes it possible to test the subsystems while using less power. It is also less expensive to build while allowing us to work on the technology, validate the proof of concept, and start the certification work. The scale 1 test line is expected to be built in a few years. We are studying different locations for this test site.