European Hyperloop Center opens its doors for first tests

This 420-meter hyperloop test track showcases key tech like lane switching, but highlights the long road ahead to commercialisation.
European Hyperloop Center opens its doors for first tests

What will come first to Europe — a commercial hyperloop or eVTOL? Well, don't hold your breath, as today The European Hyperloop Center (EHC) announced the completion of its hyperloop test infrastructure and opened up for the first tests.

It's a step forward in testing the technology, but it's not a sign that we are anywhere near commercial adoption or paying to ride in a windowless tube at high speeds. 

Check out my visit to hyperloop company Zeleros in 2023. 

This facility, featuring a 420-metre hyperloop test tube, can demonstrate all essential hyperloop technologies, including a full lane switch.

Hardt Hyperloop plans to commence its first tests in the coming weeks.

According to Sascha Lamme, Director of the EHC: 

"This marks a pivotal moment in hyperloop development. It is great that this state-of-the-art facility in the Province of Groningen has been brought to life with the support of all our partners, and we can't wait for the first tests to happen."

The test infrastructure at the EHC is designed to represent real-world conditions. Particularly critical is the inclusion of a full lane switch , which is essential for the realisation of hyperloop networks.

Marinus van der Meijs, co-founder and Technology and Engineering Director at Hardt Hyperloop, commented: 

"The European Hyperloop Center's facility is the perfect ground for us to validate and advance our technology.

This infrastructure enables us to demonstrate the essential technologies such as magnetic levitation, propulsion, stabilisation, and even lane-switching at speeds up to 100 km/hr,"

The EHC is part of the Hyperloop Development Program (HDP), a public-private partnership of more than 25 partners to advance the hyperloop technology. 

The hyperloop pipes are made from steel developed by POSCO (KR) in collaboration with Tata Steel (NL). Contractor Mercon (NL) assembled them into fully prefabricated hyperloop tubes, which were installed by infrastructure company Denys (BE). In total, more than 50 companies have been involved in the realisation of the infrastructure.

Multiple hyperloop technology companies and research institutes are part of the HDP, consisting of:

  • EuroTube (CH)
  • Hardt Hyperloop (NL)
  • Nevomo (PL)
  • Zeleros (ES). 

The HDP has financial support from the European Commission, the Dutch Government, and the Province of Groningen.

The European Hyperloop Center is also part of a European Research Infrastructure Cluster with a hyperloop test facility in Switzerland, DemoTube (120 metres), from hyperloop developer EuroTube. 

Combining the results of both hyperloop test facilities further accelerates the advancement of hyperloop development.

Due to the technical advancements of hyperloop, there is an increase in market traction for hyperloop globally. In Italy, a feasibility study on a hyperloop pilot route has recently started. India is gearing up to start a hyperloop pilot in 2026. 

At a continental level, the European Commission has proposed to include hyperloop in its TEN-T policy with support of the European Parliament. This policy is aimed at enhancing the connectivity between the European Member States.

Hyperloop travel promises fast travel at an infrastructural cost lower to high speed rail, with the energy use of travelling with a hyperloop estimated to be 10x less compared to travelling by car or by plane.

Significant for commercialisation, the spatial integration of the hyperloop is deemed easier compared to other types of infrastructure. 

However, to date, no railways in Europe have entered into formal agreements to host hyperloop tunnels, although there are plans for integration with a variety of ports such as Nevomo's agreement with with Duisport port in Germany, and Zeleros with the port in Valencia, to explore using their technology to expand the port's capacity.

Lead image: European Hyperloop Center. Photo: uncredited. 

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