Hyperloop, United Arab Emirates to have first supersonic train (thanks to an Italian)
7 February 2019

The supersonic train, conceived by the visionary Elon Musk, is about to become reality and the United Arab Emirates will be first country to introduce it. Hyperloop One will speed along at over 1.200 km starting next year, with the first section of 10 km running to Abu Dhabi. The project was originally shown in 2013 by the American billionaire, founder of Tesla and the private space company SpaceX and will debut at the Dubai Expo 2020. Once completed, the Hyperloop One system will connect the two cities located 160 km apart in 12 minutes. Today, it takes about an hour and a half by train or car. Eventually, it will also reach Riyadh in 48 minutes (more than 1000 km) with the last stop being Doha in 23 minutes, 700 km later.
Hyperloop is not just a train, but rather a pod that uses electromagnetic energy. It uses magnetic levitation to guide and lift the pod off the track within a vacuum-like tube.

Mr. Hyperloop today is not Elon Musk, but rather Gabriele Gresta, an Italian, that goes by the name of “Bibop”. Born in Terni 47 years ago, he never did graduate university. Gresta was a software developer, radio host and actor. His nickname, Bibop, comes from a type of Jazz music from the 1940s. He founded Bibop Spa, a company that produces and distributes content that was later sold to Tim in 1999 for 11 billion lira. He then founded Digital Magics, an incubator for innovative startups, listed on Aim of the Italian Stock Exchange. In 2010, he moved to Los Angeles, where he still lives today. It was in Los Angeles that he learned of Elon Musk’s idea and believed in it. In 2015, he co-founded with a German man named Dirk Ahlborn Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), of which he is President and whose mission is to develop Hyperloop technology.

Gresta wants to revolutionize the transportation system of traditional tracks that have been around for more than a century. He commented to Forbes “wheels were built with the technology that we had at the beginning of the 900s. They were used together with horses, which their width reflects. Our transport system is still based on the measurement of the size of horses. We were stuck at technology from more than a century ago and no one had ever thought of revolutionizing mobility by taking advantage of technological advances.”

How much will this technological revolution cost? In an interview with the Emirates News Agency, the Italian-turned-Californian stated that it will cost “between 20 and 40 million dollars a kilometer” and added that the project will have a return on investments in 8-15 years. “It was once a dream, but we are all excited that now this dream is about to come true in the UAE in 2020”, said Gresta. “The Abu Dhabi Hyperloop system has just passed its feasibility study. We have already completed the study after collaborating with Aldar Properties in Abu Dhabi last year. It will be the first Hyperloop commercial line in the world.”
The launch in the United Arab Emirates is due to an agreement signed by the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai, the Emirate Transportation Authority and Hyperloop. Based on the memorandum of understanding signed in April 2018 between HTT and Aldar Properties of Abu Dhabi, a new TT Hyperloop center will be created, which will include a mobility center, a demonstration center for visitors and a hub of innovation. The center will be located between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, near Expo 2020 and Al Maktoum international airport. Currently, there is no functioning Hyperloop, but tests have been done in Nevada, Toulouse (France), and in California, Gresta’s adopted home. Excavation for the Hyperloop tunnel began in 2017.

The pod has already left the assembly plant in Spain and is heading to Toulouse, France where there is a prototype runway. As soon as it arrives in Toulouse, in Airbus Valley, it will be put in a tube. Then, the system will be tested by the first passenger with an experimental journey in the first 350 meters of pipe. From 9 to 14 April, Hyperloop will exhibit the capsule in Milan.