Freight at the speed of flight

Freight at the speed of flight

A revolutionary new “super-sonic” mode of transport set to take off in the next few years could radically shake up the air cargo industry.

Once up and running, the new Freight Hyperloop concept, still under development, will whizz palletised cargo in elevated pods at an estimated 1000 kmh / 620 mph, crossing continents in as little as 16 hours.

The venture, being run jointly by Virgin Hyperloop One and a new cargo brand called DP World Cargospeed, may sound like science fiction but its developers expect it could be up and running by as soon as 2020.

Marcia Christoff, Public Relations Manager for Virgin Hyperloop One, said their company was the only hyperloop company in the world that has developed and tested an actual prototype, which is located in the Nevada desert not far from Los Angeles.

“We expect to see a fully-operable commercial hyperloop by the mid-2020s,” she said.

“Our ability to meet that goal will depend on how fast the regulatory and statutory process moves. So far, we’re seeing a very positive response from governments to our technology.”

Christoff added, “Cargo could very likely be the first hyperloop system.

“The ramifications of this new mode of transport will be astounding – it will be to this century the same as the plane was to the last century and rail was to the 19th century.”

Christoff explained that the hyperloop concept, which is currently in the high stages of development, could initiate a supply chain revolution thanks to its ability to transport “freight at the speed of flight”, which Virgin Hyperloop One expects to be a fraction of the cost.

In particular, hyperloop will challenge the air freight industry in that it will target high priority on demand shipments that have been traditionally served by air.

Rapid growth in e-commerce, which will be worth around USD4 trillion by the end of the decade, and the express and parcel industry, to grow to USD500 billion by 2025 – according to Virgin Hyperloop One – were both strong cases for hyperloop.

Christoff said, “Our market assessments show that there is going to be a dramatic shift in consumer and business behaviour, with growing demand for higher speed shipments.

“Airports and airlines are our friends and partners as we look to use the advantages of that industry infrastructure.

“However, as air cargo currently accounts for less than one per cent of world freight tonnage, we would like to help in the global economy’s most rapidly growing sectors by providing the extra cargo capacity.

“In fact, we expect to reduce warehouse inventory by as much as 25 per cent.”
Christoff added, “This is an opportunity for us, we are combining the speed of aircraft with the capacity of rail, with the convenience of metro, all rolled into one.”

In addition to the Nevada desert, there are discussions to building hyperloop systems in Texas and the Great Lakes Region in the USA, as well as India and the UAE.

This past week, Virgin Hyperloop One and Spain concluded an agreement to build a hyperloop test and development research center in Malaga, Spain.

TIACA Times Fall 2018 issue will include a special feature on Hyperloop and other new technological developments set up to shake up the air cargo industry. For editorial or advertorial queries or to be part of that issue, which will unveil a new-look magazine, contact the editor Robert Platt at