Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One has named the Andalusian region of Spain as the location of its first European development facility, a 19,000 sq. metre plant that will certify components and subsystems to improve safety and reliability. Valued at $500 million (£388 million), the Advanced Technology Development and Testing Center will be built in the village of Bobadilla and is planned to be operational in 2020.
Virgin Hyperloop One has signed an agreement with Spain’s Administrator of Railway Infrastructures (ADIF) to create the building, with around a third of the money being contributed to the project through loans and grants. The region was chosen because it has more than 9,000 transport and logistics companies, the second largest aerospace cluster in Spain and 20,000 R&D employees.
Virgin Hyperloop One estimates that it will employ up to 300 people and that the centre would act as a “spur”, creating more jobs in the area from the suppliers that will provide parts and components. The news of the Spanish facility for the transport that can reportedly reach speeds of up to 760mph (1,200kmh) comes two years after Virgin Hyperloop One successfully tested its system in the Nevada desert, a run that saw the pod reach a speed around 500mph short of that figure. Virgin Hyperloop One’s goal is to have the first phase of a commercial operation built in around three years’ time.
Hyperloop is an open source technology meaning that anyone is free to work on it, which as a result has seen the tech billionaire Elon Musk spend significant resources to be the first to operate a fully operational system. Musk has said that he is planning to dig a tunnel to install his hyperloop project that would complete a journey between Washington D.C. and New York – around 230-miles – in 30 minutes.
Speaking on the Bobadilla facility, Rob Lloyd, the Virgin Hyperloop One CEO, said Spain was an obvious choice for the project owing to its “robust transportation, aerospace, and high-tech sectors”. “By investing in the development and testing of Virgin Hyperloop One, Spain is extending its long-tradition as an innovative, global transport leader. We are excited to partner with such a forward-thinking country in developing the next generation of transportation.”
A spokesperson from the ADIF said: “The location of the Center in our country will lead to important high-value commercial opportunities and will boost economic growth in the region,” adding that the agreement would help it to deepen the willingness to face new technological challenges.
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