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This Canadian Company Says A Toronto-To-Montreal Hyperloop Is Feasible

Transpod says Canada is an obvious market for a Hyperloop.

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A Canadian company says a 30-minute commute between Toronto and Montreal could be a reality within the next 10 to 15 years. People would be transported between the two cities in pods travelling up to 600 km/h.

Transpod

Transpod was founded last year, one of many companies answering the call from billionaire Elon Musk to design a new transportation system in which pods take people and goods through low-pressure tubes at ultra-high speeds.

Musk called his idea the Hyperloop, and he invited others to build on his idea and present designs of how it could become a reality.

Brendan Klinkenberg / BuzzFeed / Via youtube.com

Transpod was one of many teams that took part in a Musk-sponsored design competition, but founder and CEO Sebastien Gendron said he realized his company was much more ambitious than the competition.

"We've developed some extra systems like onboard power and a propulsion system," he told BuzzFeed Canada. By comparison, most other teams focused on simply making the lightest pods possible, he said.

Transpod is skipping the next step in the Hyperloop competition and pressing ahead on its own. In September, the Canadian company will present its designs at InnoTrans, the world’s largest rail industry trade fair held in Berlin.

"The more we work on it, the more we see it is the future of transportation," Gendron said.

Transpod

Fans of high-speed rail have long complained that Canada hasn't invested enough in the infrastructure to make travel between Canadian cities more efficient. But Gendron says that makes Canada a perfect candidate for Hyperloop travel.

In Europe, by comparison, where high-speed rail is much more common, the technology wouldn't make as much sense, he said.

Gendron said Transpod is in talks with Canadian industrial giants, like Bombardier, who have shown strong interest in the technology. The key, though, is whether the government buys into the idea. He said the Trudeau government's promise to invest heavily in infrastructure is an opportunity for Canada to get ahead of the curve.

There's a lot of skepticism about the Hyperloop, though.

Transpod

As Matthew Siemiatycki, a University of Toronto professor who specializes in transportation, told the Toronto Star, getting bureaucratic approval for a massive new infrastructure project like this is no easy task.

“The technical part of ‘how do you build this’ is one part of the discussion. The actual planning and policy issues surrounding it are as complex — and then you have the costs,” Siemiatycki told the Star.

David Z. Morris, a transportation writer for Fortune, suggests the hype around Hyperloop has as much to do with Musk's reputation as a genius inventor as it does with the technology itself.

When Elon Musk first proposed his idea for Hyperloop travel, he pegged the costs at a fraction of what they would be for high-speed rail. Gendron said those early estimates were probably too optimistic, but it's still feasible.

“Within the next 15 years, assuming we have support from the [politicians], I don’t see why we can’t make it happen,” he said of a Toronto-to-Montreal Hyperloop line.

Transpod

When Transpod goes to Berlin this September, the company will present its full design as well as some figures that make the case for the company's technology.

"The objective is to present some cost analysis and [make] a business case to show it's the same cost of a conventional line, and not more expensive," Gendron said.

"It's a no-brainer."

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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