There are few things more British than complaining about our commutes. Trains are often too expensive, delayed and too slow.

While that's unlikely to change any time soon, a new futuristic mode of transport that would radically cut journey times has taken one step closer to being launched in the UK: hyperloop.

Semifinalists representing the Edinburgh to London route © Hyperloop One

Hyperloop is a new, more eco-friendly mode of transport proposed by entrepreneur Elon Musk in 2012. It involves pods carrying passengers through a tube pumped into a near-vacuum at projected top speeds of up to 650mph, using a version of magnetic levitation technology.

There are a number of different companies working on this new mode of transport, but in the UK it is 'Virgin Hyperloop One', a tie-up between Virgin and LA-based Hyperloop One announced in October 2017. The company conducted its first full-scale test of the system in Nevada in May 2017.

So what exactly is being proposed? The company has selected two potential routes in the UK: Edinburgh to London and Glasgow to Liverpool. Hyperloop journey times could be as fast as half an hour from Edinburgh to London, compared to nearly five hours by train at the moment.

The Glasgow to Liverpool route is being supported by architecture and engineering firms Ryder and Arup, while Edinburgh to London was proposed by students from the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University.

However, it's important to note that no funding or deadline has been announced, so for now it's very much a far-away possibility rather than a concrete project.  

The BBC quotes Professor David Bailey from the Aston Business School as saying: "I remain sceptical about using Hyperloop technology in places where there are high land values or dense population. But it may be more appropriate in places like the United Arab Emirates. It's a complicated technology and there's a long way to go."

While exciting, hyperloop technology won't be coming to the UK any time soon. For now, all we can do is wait and see.  

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