How would you like to hurtle at an average speed of 900 km/hour between Edmonton and Calgary, skipping the airport and avoiding the onerous and sometimes dangerous vehicular drive along the Queen Elizabeth II highway? I know I would. And business and family travellers I have spoken with agree.
It may take a full five years before a “test track” is completed. Edmontonians I spoke with hoped that the test track would be completed sooner. It is a future endeavour that has most everyone’s nod. It would create better and hopefully more competition between airlines and comfort for passengers, as well. No one wants anymore incidences like the United Airlines type of over-booking and subsequent passenger abuse by airline staff. Nor do they want to continue to be crammed into airplanes.
Thus, a super-speed craft that flows along at counterpart airplane speed is desirable and has been due for a long time. Just last week, Sebastien Gendron, CEO of hyperloop startup Transpod visited our city to share a vision Edmonton has had for years, and to help expedite that vision into fruition. Gendron explained, “We’re talking about an average speed of 900 km/hour and travel between the Edmonton-Calgary corridor in less than 30 minutes”.
Collaborating with both the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary is key to the discussion of “Hyperloop”. In his description of the technology, Hyperloop developer, Elon Musk, provided the following analogy: “Freight and passenger pods zoom through tubes propelled by air pressure, similar to a puck on an air hockey table”.
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Alberta has an advantage in that the land that technologists have to deal with is generally flat. Gendron states, “There is also a strong interest in Alberta to diversify the economy, which makes a transportation system an excellent choice”. Initial cost-estimate is $4.5 billion without including the amount of time given to pre-research and future developmental research.
In Calgary, there are some negative postulants who are concerned with factors related to the speed of travel and its effects on the human body, for example. The fact that we are already travelling at such speeds in aircraft was not brought up.
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Gendron counters, “It’s the frequencey of the subway with the speed of an aircraft”. Another advantage is that not only passengers, but freight can be delivered back and forth between warehouses with here-to-for unimaginable efficiency.
Some hesitancy on the part of politicians was reflected, for example by Mayor Don Iveson and Brian Mason (Provincial Transportation Minister) who said immediate focus should be on Light Rail Transit and technology that has already been fully researched and tested.
If nothing else, both cities showed an interest in the concept and were willing to begin research. Gendron remained optimistic, stating, “It sounds like I’ll be back in Alberta very soon”.