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Tunnelling key to Hyperloop deployment in the UK

Topography of the UK and dense population may call for partial or full underground construction should the UK choose to construct an Hyperloop transport system.

The Department for Transport’s Science Advisory Council (SAC) has published a position statement on Hyperloop following a year long review of the technology.

Hyperloop was first proposed by US entrepreneur Elon Musk in 2013 and involves a tube-based system where passenger or freight pods are transported at high speeds in a low friction environment.

As part of its review, the SAC considered the technical feasibility of Hyperloop technology, as well as the benefits and challenges to developing the infrastructure in the UK and opportunities it presents for the UK engineering sector.

The report states: “It may prove challenging to find a suitable alignment above ground for a Hyperloop system to enable it to operate at high speeds (requiring shallow gradients and curvature to limit g forces on passengers) without impacting on existing infrastructure or protected areas. This may necessitate full or partial underground construction, which would have a significant impact on capital costs and would make maintenance and emergency evacuation more difficult. There may also be significant challenges in tunnelling in parts of the UK depending on the local geological conditions.”

In conclusion, the SAC said that Hyperloop could have a “potentially transformative impact” on passenger and freight transport but that “significant engineering challenges” remain to be resolved.


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