A proposed route across the North has been unveiled by Ryder Architecture and Arup for Hyperloop One, a pod-based mode of transport using magnetic levitation to propel passengers and cargo at airline speeds through a tube.
The Northern Arc proposal, supported by KPMG and local government, was revealed as one of nine shortlisted routes in Europe as part of Hyperloop One’s Global Design Challenge.
Hyperloop One, a concept created by Tesla founder Elon Musk in 2013, uses magnetic levitation to lift pods above the track and gradually accelerate them using electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. Due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag, the pods can glide at more than 1,200km per hour for long distances, with high energy efficiency per passenger mile.
Using Hyperloop One technology, the Northern Arc route could connect 10.4m people in a 545km arc from Liverpool to Glasgow with a total journey time of 47 minutes.
The proposed route would cover Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. It is estimated that Liverpool to Manchester would take six minutes.
The plans include the creation of an integrated Northern Arc airport across the cities, meaning passengers could check in at Liverpool and fly from Glasgow. Extensions are proposed to Aberdeen, Belfast and Hull to connect all the major ports in the North, with a vision of transforming domestic distribution and significantly reducing congestion and carbon emissions.
The aim was to produce a co-ordinated, government-backed, deliverable proposal to connect Scotland with the Northern Powerhouse partners, creating a super region and showcasing the North of England as a global leader of transport innovation.
It is hoped that a test track in Nevada will provide proof of the engineering concept by the end of 2017. A test track is planned for Europe in 2021.
The winning engineering and design partner for Hyperloop One in Europe is due to be announced over the coming months, with the competition having begun in May 2016. The other shortlisted entries in the UK are a North-South Connector from London to Edinburgh which would take 50 minutes, and a Scotland-Wales route from Glasgow to Cardiff via Nottingham and Cambridge which would take 89 minutes.
The six other entries on the European shortlist are for Germany, The Netherlands and Poland, Estonia-Finland, Spain-Morocco and Corsica-Sardinia, the latter three of which include underwater sections.
Northern Arc is the only shortlisted proposal to be led by an architectural practice. The exact breakdown of route coverage has not yet been announced, and the team faces engineering challenges to adapt the technology to the geography of the region, but the team urge that this is “not futuristic but the future of transport over the coming few years”.
The Northern Arc route team has engaged with the Department for Transport, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Port of Tyne and Newcastle City Council.
Costings are currently being finalised but as a business-led collaboration the team is optimistic about the commercial and economic viability and opportunities the route would bring.
Paul Bell, partner at Ryder Architecture, said, “Northern Arc is more than a Hyperloop route – it is the economic region that the Northern Powerhouse should be and we’re excited to be involved in this pioneering opportunity.”