Dirk Ahlborn, chief executive officer of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), announced on Thursday that HTT has reached an agreement with the Slovakian government to explore building a local Hyperloop system. A transport system capable of speeds of up to 760mph (1,223kph).
According to Ahlborn, the next steps will include identifying a route that could connect Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital, with Vienna and Budapest.
“Slovakia is a technological leader in the automotive, material science, and energy industries, many of the areas that are integral to the Hyperloop system,” said Ahlborn. “Having a European Hyperloop presence will incentivize collaboration and innovation within Slovakia and throughout Europe.”
Slovakian newspaper Pravda confirmed the agreement with Miriam Žiaková, spokeswoman for the ministry of economy, who said that the government and HTT agreed to meet within the next 270 days to continue these discussions.
“Hyperloop in Europe would cut distances substantially and network cities in unprecedented ways. A transportation system of this kind would redefine the concept of commuting and boost cross-border cooperation in Europe,” said Vazil Hudak, Slovakia’s minister of economy. “The expansion of Hyperloop will lead to an increased demand for the creation of new innovation hubs, in Slovakia and all over Europe.”
According to Wired, Ahlborn expects Slovakia’s Hyperloop to cost between $200m to $300m and be completed by 2020.
Hyperloop is a brain child of Elon Musk, who hoped that the 700 miles per hour train would simplify the modern commute. According to Musk, Hyperloop would enable people to travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco in about 30 minutes. Currently, that trip takes six hours by car and one hour by plane.
Since Musk is already preoccupied with his other projects, such as SpaceX and Tesla, he has made plans for Hyperloop open to the public allowing other entrepreneurs to make it a reality.
In California, HTT’s rival Hyperloop Technologies is currently in the process ofbuilding a three-mile test track, which they hope to complete by the end of the year. Rob Lloyd, chief executive officer of Hyperloop Technologies, told CNN that their first commercial train could be ready as soon as 2021 or even 2020.
There are number of barriers making it difficult to build Hyperloop in California – land acquisition is expensive, earthquakes and opposition from locals who might not want a high speed train in their backyard.
According to Pravda, HTT looking for an area outside the US. “I personally think it’s a great place for it,” HTT’s Ahlborn said of Bratislava, Slovakia.