Shaping the future

Hyperloop versus airplanes: What's safer?

Rail, metros don't make economic sense: HTT CEO

The futuristic rail system known as Hyperloop operates on the same fundamental principle as airplanes but is much safer, according to one of the major players developing the disruptive transportation.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) is creating magnetic technology that will transport passengers in levitating capsules through steel tubes at a supersonic speed of 760 miles per hour. The concept sounds like a science fiction fantasy but passengers needn't fear, explained HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn.

"Basically, our system is an airplane inside a tube," he told CNBC at the InnovFest Unbound conference in Singapore.

"It works the same way, an airplane goes into high altitudes because it consumes less energy the higher it goes. It can go much faster with less energy and that's the same concept inside the Hyperloop."

In short, HTT deploys existing technologies such as maglev, puts them in in a tube and takes the air out, Ahlborn summed up.

Source: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

He claims Hyperloop is ten times safer than an airplane and makes more economic sense than traditional transportation. Existing railways and metros rely heavily on government subsidies but with innovation, the world can build systems with significant economic benefits and a better passenger experience, Ahlborn outlined.

Invented by billionaire Elon Musk, the Hyperloop technology has been embraced by other firms, including Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Technologies. But HTT says it is the only one utilizing magnetic technology that allows capsules to levitate.

HTT is working with governments but remains predominantly privately funded, Ahlborn noted, adding that the goal was to have zero taxpayer funds involved.

"We have on average returns of investments from 5-10 years, depending if you're looking into freight and passenger, or only passengers."