IMAGINE a train that would get you from Edinburgh to London in the time it takes to watch your favourite TV show.
It might sound like the stuff of science fiction but a 30-minute direct service just got a step nearer with interest from a multi-million pound start-up.
Travelling at a near-supersonic 760mph, the train uses cutting edge “hyperloop” technology to propel passenger pods through a low-pressure tube.
The University of Edinburgh HypED team is working on a prototype and proposals for the route. “Our corridor is intended as being the transportation ‘spine’ of the UK,” said HypED’s head of commercial, Carolina Toczycka.
The team’s Edinburgh-to-London route is one of 35 shortlisted from a field of 2600 in the global Hyperloop One competition.
If given government approval, direct trains would connect the Capital to London in 30 minutes – or 37 minutes with stops in Manchester and Birmingham.
HypED refused to be drawn on exact costs – only that completed works and land acquisition would come in cheaper than the controversial HS2 high-speed rail link. Hyperloop One has raised more than £130 million in a bid to promote the super-fast travel.
The London to Edinburgh bid will battle it out with Sydney to Melbourne, Shanghai to Hangzhou and Mumbai to Delhi with 11 US teams also in contention.
Despite reaching speeds faster than a Boeing 737, Hyperloop One said the system offers better safety than passenger jets.
The start-up also claims lower build and maintenance costs than high-speed trains, while energy usage, per person, is similar to a bicycle.
Meanwhile, HypED is also building a prototype train in Edinburgh to enter a separate competition run by SpaceX, the aerospace firm run by Tesla electric car billionaire Elon Musk.
Up against teams from around the world, HypED hopes to get through to the testing stage in California this summer.
Prospects of shaving more than four hours off their journey to London got an enthusiastic greeting from passengers at Waverley Station.
IT worker Andrew Marcus, 42, from Drylaw, was waiting to board an Edinburgh to London service – currently taking four hours and 43 minutes. He said: “It would make a massive difference as I travel to London a couple of times a month.”
Teacher Claire Stancliffe, 30, was also waiting for the King’s Cross service. “It sounds amazing, she said. “But what are the consequences for the environment?”
Brand communications specialist Ashley Douglas, 39, from New Town, said: “It would make people’s lives better as well as being good for our carbon footprint.”
Care worker Luke McKeating, 24, said: “I’d be more inclined to go to London then, if I could get there quicker.”