What is it?
The Hyperloop is basically a super-fast train enclosed in vacuum tube to avoid friction and it 'floats' a couple of centimetres above the ground thanks to an electromagnetic field.
It was actually first outlined in the works of French science fiction author Jules Verne, although a bit of extra work has been done on the idea since then.
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The developers say it will reach speeds of 700mph or 1,126km/h. At those speeds the 774km journey from Paris to Marseille would take about 40 minutes, while the trip from the capital to Toulouse would take under half an hour.
Is it really being developed?
Yes, American billionaire eccentric Elon Musk is developing it at his company, but there are also numerous other companies and universities researching the technology including a company called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, which is based in the USA but has a development office in Toulouse.
A 320 metre long test track has been built in Toulouse to start development of the trains.
“Toulouse is the heart of Europe's aerospace industry so it is only natural that we have a presence there amongst many of our partners and peers,” said HTT Chairman Bibop Gresta when the office opened. “We are grateful to the community of Toulouse for welcoming us with open arms.”
“Our close relationship with the local government is exactly what is needed to implement Hyperloop systems in Europe,” added HTT COO Andres De Leon. “While developing our technology we will also work together to create the necessary regulatory framework for the system.”
And in other parts of the globe things are progressing even faster – a 10km track is planned for between Abu Dhabi and Dubai in 2020 as part of the Universal Exposition and at a competition in the USA last week dozens of teams showed how far they had got with the technology.
So where can I buy a ticket?
Calm down, there are a few small problems to iron out first.
Firstly there is the cost, as governments would only start building the infrastructure if costs could be kept to around €20 million per kilometre (slightly more than a conventional railway). Then there's the environmental aspect of it, as maintaining the vacuum and the electromagnetic field would use a lot of energy.
Then of course the whole thing would require extensive safety testing before the public were allowed anywhere near it.