Short haul flights could be replaced in the future. The Amsterdam airport operator Schiphol Group bets on Hyperloop technology.
KLM took up an unusual position early on. Last year, the Dutch national airline launched the Fly Responsibly campaign, urging passengers to fly only when they really have to. Often the train is the better alternative.
At the same time, KLM intends to replace short flights with train connections. However, high-speed trains such as the TGV or ICE have accelerated land transport and connected large cities. However, throughout Europe they are still often not an alternative to flights due to longer travel times and higher prices.
Replacement for 12 million passengers
But this is set to change, as the Amsterdam airport operator, Royal Schiphol Group, agrees «The aviation industry is in an unprecedented situation. The recovery will take years, but it is important to continue investing in innovation and sustainability,» says Hassan Charaf, head of innovation. His company works together with the Dutch company Hardt Hyperloop.
Now they have published the results of a joint study. It shows that a hyperloop can play an important role in making Amsterdam Schiphol a sustainable multimodal hub. It predicts that by 2050 the new mode of transport can replace up to 12.5 million of the passengers who will travel via the largest airport in the Netherlands.
Connections to Germany, Belgium, France and Great Britain
The partners are proposing a first Hyperloop network connecting Schiphol to the main neighbouring airports and cities in Germany, Belgium, France and the UK. It would replace flight connections. The replacement would free up capacity at airports.
But what is a hyperloop? Many people may be familiar with the pneumatic tube system, which uses compressed air or a partial vacuum to distribute cylindrical containers through a network of pipes. Smaller consignments can thus be moved quickly from one side of a building to the other.
First tests with freight
The Hyperloop does the same thing, even if it is bigger and much more sophisticated. The capsules are moved through the tubes by magnetic drive – without air resistance and friction at a speed of 700 kilometers per hour. Schiphol and Hardt are convinced that the technology will play a central role in a sustainable high-speed transport network in future Europe.
The first test facility in Europe was built on the campus of the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands. The first, three-kilometer-long hyperloop test center is to be built in the province of Groningen over the next two years. The first tests will focus on cargo.
For passengers, there are additional requirements to be considered, including common EU standard rules, and public acceptance is also needed. But that’s what is being worked on. Partners of Hardt Hyperloop and Schiphol Airport are Nederlandse Spoorwegen as the state railway of the Netherlands, Deutsche Bahn, Koolen Industries, Inno Energy, Freigeist, BAM, Tata Steel, IHC and others.
It will still take many years before passengers can actually travel in this way. In addition to the construction and associated permits, technical and safety issues must also be clarified. Hardt does not see many challenges here, as the systems are based on existing technologies.
Lufthansa also interested
But the construction of the projects will not be cheap. TNO, the Dutch organization for applied scientific research, has calculated that the construction of the five-kilometer-long hyperloop will cost around 20 million euros. The route between Amsterdam and Frankfurt, for example, would then cost between one and a half and two billion euros.
Not only Schiphol is interested. Lufthansa has already expressed interest in the technology to replace domestic flights as well.