Track shipments

The world’s largest Hyperloop test track is coming to Pueblo

You leave your office in Denver, arrive at Union Station, and board a pod-shaped car. Once you settle in, the pod turns into a dark tube. An hour and a half later, you disembark in San Francisco, ready to spend the weekend with a friend.

This scenario represents the possibility of hyperloop technology, a theoretical method of ground transportation that travels faster than a jet through a vacuum-sealed tunnel. Although its potential sounds like something out of an Octavia Butler novel, a new partnership between Switzerland-based Swisspod and Pueblo-based MxV Rail could make Colorado the birthplace of hyperloop travel.

Swisspod has its roots in Reddit, where in 2015 Denis Tudor heard about a hyperloop competition sponsored by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Tudor’s team won the award for best design, and the plan became the starting point for the 40-meter Swisspod track at the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Europe’s first hyperloop test facility. The success of the startup in Lausanne, where Tudor is a doctoral student. student, earned Swisspod enough investment money to fund a larger prototype that will cost millions of dollars and cover 40 acres of land. Where did the 28-year-old decide to locate his potentially game-changing lead? Pueblo, of course.

That’s because the city is home to the Transportation Technology Center, a facility built in the 1970s by the U.S. Department of Transportation to evaluate skytrains. MxV Rail, a private contractor, has been running the place since 1998, analyzing all sorts of technologies, from a method of welding to join tracks more securely to software designed to model the risk of derailment. “It’s one of the biggest companies in the industry when it comes to testing transportation technology,” says Tudor.

Construction of the Swisspod site is set to begin this month, and Pueblo should benefit immediately, MxV Rail President and CEO Kari Gonzales says, thanks to the influx of engineering and construction jobs. well paid. In the long term, the MxV-Swisspod collaboration could revive the dwindling hopes of hyperloop proponents, who have struggled to turn potential into reality (passengers continue to be buffeted by G-force speeds). In February, Los Angeles-based Virgin Hyperloop, the only company to record a successful run with humans, laid off half its staff to refocus on moving goods rather than people. But Tudor says Virgin’s announcement won’t change its trajectory. Between Swisspod’s dreamy mentality and MxV’s experience, the partnership could give hyperloop the boost it needs to finally cross the finish line.

(Read more: Does Hyperloop still have a future in Colorado?)