An industrial zone in canton Valais has been chosen as the first European site to test a high-speed "hyperloop" transport system. A test track is due to be built at Collombey-Muraz next year.
"EuroTube external linkis entering into a partnership with the SBB to build a three-kilometre research facility and a test section for high-speed vacuum transport in Valais," EuroTube and the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) said in a statement external linkon Thursday.
Hyperloop experimental high-speed transportation systems involve sending magnetic passenger pods through a vacuum tube at the speed of sound. SBB said the hyperloop is designed to travel at speeds of up to 1100 km/per hour, but "the Collombey-Muraz test and research section will be designed for speeds of up to 900 km/h".
Collombey-Muraz was chosen because it offers "very flat [terrain] and with very few obstacles".
The SBB hopes the test track will provide "important insights into the construction and operation of this potentially high-capacity transport mode".
In Europe, there are currently no hyperloop test sections, while a few exist in other parts of the world. In the US, Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceXexternal link and co-founder of the car firm Tesla, launched in 2015 an annual Hyperloop Pod Competitionexternal link in California aimed at revolutionizing transport systems. This summer, a team from the Swiss federal institute of technology Lausanne (EPFL) won third place in the competition with their “EPFLoop” pod.
A similar project to the hyperloop technology — a magnetic levitation train known as the Swissmetroexternal link that would have traveled through tunnels beneath Switzerland - was discussed decades ago but was ultimately abandoned.