MONTREAL—A Canadian hyperloop company is threatening to relocate its headquarters to Europe unless it gets political support at home for the implementation of its technology that would transport goods and passengers through tubes at airplane speeds.
Transpod CEO and co-founder Sebastien Gendron says politicians need to step up if they are serious about supporting innovation in Canada.
The company’s proposed elevated network of pods travelling through low-pressure tubes at 1,000 kilometres per hour would cut transit time between Montreal and Toronto to less than an hour and relieve highway and airport congestion, he says.
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A second line could connect Calgary and Edmonton in about half that time, he added.
Gendron says the system could be ready to carry passengers in the early 2030s after first being used for light freight such as e-commerce and perishable food.
He says the transportation corridors would be privately owned, likely by Canadian pension funds, construction firms and other investors, while Transpod would supply the technology and pods. The company says it has received interest from these partners but no formal commitments to date.
Toronto-based Transpod is competing against billionaires Elon Musk and Richard Branson, who are looking to build their own hyperloop networks.
However, Gendron says it offers better technology that is 50 per cent cheaper to install than traditional high-speed rail lines and a lower cost per kilometre than its rivals.
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Construction of a three-kilometre track in France belonging to Transpod and its investors is expected to be ready for testing by next June. A 10-km test track along Highway 7 in Alberta could be ready by 2022 if it wins provincial support. Construction would begin in 2020 and form a section of the eventual transportation corridor.
Despite the competition, Canadian and European hyperloop companies are developing an international partnership to standardize the methodology and framework to regulate vacuum-based hyperloop travel systems.
They want to work with regulators to ensure time isn’t wasted in meeting government requirements for certification.
Transport Canada says the government is watching the international commercialization of hyperloop technology closely.
A department spokesperson adds that its Transportation 2030 initiative is working to modernize Canada’s transportation sector through updated regulations, investments in infrastructure and the promotion of new transportation technologies.