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Hyperloop One: These nine new routes could bring 680mph maglev travel to millions

Europe dreams of Hyperloop One connections that could drastically cut transit times.

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Hyperloop One's proposed new routes span 5,000km/3,100 miles and would connect 75 million people in 44 cities.

Image: Hyperloop One

Hyperloop One has narrowed European submissions for its Hyperloop One Global Challenge down to nine candidate routes.

The potential connections include Germany, Estonia-Finland, Spain-Morocco, Corsica-Sardinia, The Netherlands, Poland, UK Scotland-Wales, UK Northern Arc and UK North-South Connector. News of the routes, spanning 5,000km/3,100 miles and connecting 75 million people in 44 cities, follow its announcement of an 11-route potential network connecting cities in the US.

Hyperloop One announced the 'winners' of the challenge in Amsterdam on Tuesday, talking up the tantalizing prospect of European city-to-city journeys lasting tens of minutes thanks to the Hyperloop's maglev system propelling travelers at 1,100kph/683mph through near-vacuum sealed tubes.

Hyperloop One's pitch is to offer better transport for people living outside major cities and increase the capacity of strategic corridors to create mega-regions in Europe.

Notably, several routes would require undersea tunnels, including a 90km/56-mile Estonia-to-Finland route, and a link between Algeciras and Tangier.

Hyperloop recently said it wasn't ready to deal with tunnels yet, but is very keen on them. The Estonia-Finland route is interesting as it would be an alternative to a recently proposed undersea rail tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn with an estimated cost of between €9bn and €13bn ($10.1bn and $14.6bn).

The undersea link would cut a nearly two-hour ferry ride down to 30 minutes, but a Hyperloop tunnel would cut the trip to just six minutes.

Estonia's transit sector is cautiously optimistic about the prospect of a Hyperloop tunnel, which is narrower and therefore possibly cheaper than a train tunnel, but also riskier as a new technology.

For Finns, a rail or Hyperloop connection is attractive due to the planned Rail Baltica high-speed train link from Tallinn through Latvia, Ukraine and Poland to Berlin, Germany. Estonians could also gain faster access to Stockholm via a Helsinki-to-Stockholm Hyperloop proposal that was not among yesterday's candidates.

Nonetheless, such a route remains an aspiration for Risto Penttilä, CEO of the Finland Chamber of Commerce, who outlined a vision for a Northern European Hyperloop route through Helsinki, the Baltics, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Oslo.

Hyperloop One's candidate for Germany is a 1,991km/1,237-mile ring passing eight major cities, with stops at Berlin, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Cologne, and Hamburg. The longest connection, a 432km/268-mile tube between Cologne and Hamburg, would take 30 minutes.

The UK's potential Hyperloop route would offer a north-south connector between Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, and London.

Also on the cards are a 428km/266-mile loop in the Netherlands, a 545km/339-mile UK-Northern Arc between Glasgow and Liverpool, and a 629km/391-mile link from Madrid, Spain to Algeciras and across the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangier, Morocco.

Space X boss Elon Musk outlined the potential of Hyperloop travel in a 2013 proposal for a transport system to deliver passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 35 minutes.

Transport pods would carry passengers or vehicles through low-pressure tubes at just under the speed of sound, suspended on air bearings at high speeds, with deployable wheels for low speeds.

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