The first pictures have emerged of a test track for the futurist ‘Hyperloop’ transport system, which could propel commuters at speeds in excess of 500mph.
The system is the brainchild of SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk and it is now becoming reality in the desert near Las Vegas.
Hyperloop passengers would be propelled in capsules, floating on a cushion of air through low-pressure tubes.
Musk said it was “a cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table”.
It could reduce the journey time from London to Edinburgh to 45 minutes, from Los Angeles to San Francisco to around half an hour. Capsules could potentially reach 800mph.
Musk called on developers to turn his dream into reality and Hyperloop One – which has no connection to the tycoon – has now revealed images of its test track.
The DevLoop was shown off at a rail convention in Dubai, where the first commercial Hyperloop system is planned to run between the city and Abu Dhabi. The company says it will make the 100-mile journey in 12 minutes.
The test track is made up of a series of tubes, 3.3 metres in diameter, and will eventually extend 500 metres across the Nevada desert. Public trials are expected to take place this year.
Co-founder Josh Geigel paid tribute to the team that has transformed “a barren stretch of desert” in five months.
“We have come so far in such a short space of time, and our team of over 240 employees are working tirelessly to eliminate the barriers of distance and time and reinvent transportation,” he said.
Supporters of the technology claim it would have higher safety standards than passenger jets and lower construction and maintenance costs than high speed rail.
But critics say it would be expensive and impractical to build and run on a large scale and would risk catastrophic consequences in the event of a failure. They also say it would be extremely vulnerable to terrorist attack.
But developers are already looking at potential systems in India and Europe.
Hyperloop One’s chief executive, Rob Lloyd, said: “While technology is revolutionising many facets of our lives, we have not seen a radical change in transportation since the Wright brothers introduced air travel over 100 years ago.”