Plans for high-speed loop from Sydney to Brisbane
PASSENGERS will be able to travel at supersonic speed for the price of a coach ticket, says the group proposing a futuristic Hyperloop transport system.
Originally envisioned by Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Hyperloop aims to leapfrog high-speed rail with its revolutionary technology to propel passengers in pods through vacuum-sealed tubes.
It would enable travel at 1000km/h-plus - making a journey from Brisbane to Sydney possible in under an hour.
Steve Artis, director of Ultraspeed Australia, says the group is planning an inland route from Sydney via Tamworth and Toowoomba to Brisbane - with a spur line to the Gold Coast.
"It can be designed as a commuter solution as well as a long-distance route,'' he said.
A trip from the Coast to Brisbane could take under 10 minutes and would also open up commuter opportunities from northern New South Wales.
Mr Artis said Hyperloop could compliment the inland rail freight route being developed from Melbourne to Toowoomba and could provide the "missing link'' connection from the Range city to the Port of Brisbane as pods can be designed to carry cargo as well as passengers.
The business model is based on offering fares which match, or beat, the lowest current price of public travel on routes - usually coach.
Ultraspeed is the Australian representative of US-based Hyperloop One - whose backers include Virgin Group entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.
Mr Artis is seeking financial support here and says there is interest from superannuation funds and other large investment groups.
He will be outlining the company's Queensland ambitions at an Infrastructure Association of Queensland breakfast at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on Thursday.
Their modelling suggests a Melbourne to Brisbane Hyperloop network could be developed for $40 billion - about three-quarters of the cost of high-speed rail.
They are proposing a Sydney to Canberra route first, followed by Canberra to Melbourne - with the Sydney to Brisbane stretch envisioned to start in the very late 2020s.
The company is in talks with the Federal Government and Mr Artis said they were keen to sit down with whichever party wins this weekend's Queensland election.
The LNP has already promised a $2.5 million business case study that will look at potential for Very Fast Train or Hyperloop networks from the NSW border to Bundaberg.
Mr Artis said while a standalone Queensland system would be cost-prohibitive, extending it to Bundaberg or even Rockhampton once the Sydney-Brisbane route was complete would be very feasible.
Hyperloop pods would travel inside metal vacuum tubes with almost zero pressure resistance, levitated on an air cushion above huge magnets to remove friction and powered by an electric air compression fan at the front and electric linear induction motor at the rear.
The tubes, fitted with solar panels, sit on elevated pylons, minimising disruption to farmland and passing over roads and rail.
Hyperloop One successfully completed the first full-scale tests at a track in the Nevada Desert and aims to have three services operating around the world by 2021.
Mr Artis said Australia's huge distances made it perfectly suited to the technology and could be an ideal proving ground but we needed to act quickly to beat off interest from Europe, the Middle East and India.
"Unless Australia joins the discussion today, by the end of this year we are likely to miss out for 10 years or more."