Hyperloop in development to connect Bratislava, Vienna and Budapest


The Hyperloop high-speed transportation network has taken a step towards construction in central Europe, with a proposal that would allow passengers to travel between Bratislava, Vienna and Budapest in under 20 minutes.

Hyperloop's chief operating officer Bibop Gabriele Gresta confirmed with Dezeen that the company is carrying out a feasibility study to link the three cities.

Currently under development and undergoing trails, the conceptual transportation method would send passenger-filled pods through a semi-vacuum tube at speeds of up to 700 miles per hour.

Gresta was unable to shed light on an exact timescale for the Slovakia Hyperloop, but the company's chief executive Dirk Ahlborn hopes that the first stage will be built by 2020.

Construction would begin in Bratislava, with an estimated cost of between $200 million and $300 million for phase one.

Connections would be built to Austrian capital of Vienna in the west and Hungary's capital Budapest to the east.

Speaking to the International Business Times, Ahlborn referred to Hyperloop as a "truly global movement".

"Slovakia is a technological leader in the automotive, material science and energy industries – many of the areas that are integral to the Hyperloop system," he said.

"Having a European Hyperloop presence will incentivise collaboration and innovation within Slovakia and throughout Europe," he added. "With our project in Quay Valley, this agreement with Slovakia, and future developments with other regions of the world, HTT truly has become a global movement."

A journey from Bratislava to Budapest via Vienna can currently take up to five hours by train. But according to the firm, that journey could be cut to just 18 minutes if and when the system is fully operational.

Elon Musk, the founder of electric car company Tesla Motors, Paypal and the space exploration company SpaceX, first unveiled the concept for Hyperloop in 2013.

The initial scheme proposed covering a 400-mile route between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 30 minutes, providing a quicker and cheaper alternative to road, rail and air travel in the future.

The system is designed to be earthquake and weather resistant, with each pylon capable of supporting seven passenger Hyperloop tubes and one for security purposes – transporting an estimated 3,400 passengers per hour, and 24 million people each year.

A team from MIT won a competition to design an experimental capsule for the Hyperloop last month, bringing the idea a step closer to reality.

Speaking to Dezeen at last year's Transport to the Future event in London, Gresta described Hyperloop as the "closest thing to teleportation," and that he expected it to "completely change humanity."

"You can substitute the entire flight industry from Los Angeles to San Francisco with one tube, four times," he said. "Now if this will not disrupt the air industry I don't know what will."

Plans to build a Hyperloop in the US are already going ahead – and although Gresta had previously hinted at the possibility of a Hyperloop outside of America, this is the first proposal that has been made for Europe.

"There are other countries that are in a more advanced discussion phase and they have the political will, the lack of infrastructure, a high density of population and less regulatory problems to make it happen," said Gresta.

  • James

    This is the realisation of dreams only found before in sci-fi comic books. Amazing!

  • Doubtful Dodger

    It will be amazing if this actually comes off.

  • Thoughtful Skeptic

    ” Bratislava to Budapest via Vienna …”

    Actually the regular connection would take 4 hours, but why on earth would you want to head from Bratislava to Budapest via Vienna? That is like going from Washington DC to Philadelphia via NYC.

    The connection one would choose (direct train, without a huge detour) takes 2h40min to Budapest.

    • Martin Eden

      I can see you don’t live in Europe, those are the three capitals of three countries, not three states of a federation.

      • Thoughtful Skeptic

        You don’t make any sense. Even if all of the three relevant countries for these destinations wouldn’t be member states of the EU and Schengen (or even if Schengen should fail), going from Bratislava to Budapest via Vienna still makes as little sense as going from Washington DC to Philadelphia via NYC. Look at a map for Christ’s sake.

        I hope you are not from Europe, otherwise it would be a bit embarrassing.

        • Blackadder85

          Three different countries pal. EU is keen on developing eastern Europe, for economical purposes. It may not be optimal on a map, but it makes a lot of sense if you understand the grounds upon which the idea is brought forward. A bit difficult to grasp if you don’t live in Europe though.

          • Thoughtful Skeptic

            I have no idea where you are from but I know where I am from. I know the route discussed above more than just a little bit and more than just from a map.

            The EU is not subsidising crazy zigzag routes, no matter how many different countries one could cross. Especially as there is no rational reason at all to build a route from Bratislava to Budapest via Vienna when it makes much more sense to build one from Vienna to Budapest via Bratislava instead. The latter would connect the very same cities but much more efficiently.

    • Bah

      It does seem like an odd route.

    • Peter Gerety

      It’s obviously a mistake, they meant Budapest to Vienna via Bratislava (following the Danube valley).

      • Thoughtful Skeptic

        Also that version is awkward, even if it could make sense for a new Hyperloop track. However, they were obviously talking about rail, as they referred to “up to 5 hours”. The direct train from Vienna to Budapest sidelines Bratislava and takes two hours and 37 minutes.

        If, for some reason, you’d want to go via Bratislava, five hours is what it would take for the slow connection. However, even then there are frequent trains that make it in four hours 19 minutes. Thirty minutes from that could be easily saved by merely finally updating the rail link to Bratislava, decades after the fall of the iron curtain, a process that has at least started by now.

  • Ale

    This is the end of flight industry!

  • Spadestick

    Exciting news if it’s true!

  • NYdesigner

    How does the tech work?

  • Hej!

    I’ve been waiting for this, but I hope Hyperloop will expand their European plans to western Europe, especially in and around France, because this will have a big effect on tourism and living. People are going to live in the Mediterranean while having their work in London and Paris, and with one-day-city trips, people will shop for their clothes in fashion capitals like Milan and Paris. Beach visitors will change the local beaches in for Spanish Costa’s. This is just the beginning of something which change the lifestyles of millions of Europeans.

    • Meme

      All these plans depend on the ticket prices. Besides, shopping for clothes in fashion capitals like Milan and Paris is a really stupid idea.

  • from Central Europe

    I don’ think you should be calling Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest eastern Europe…

    Great news, by the way. It’s only a start, and if it succeeds, it will cause an avalanche, and in a few decades, we could travel across Europe freely and without wasting time.

    • KarcsiNéni

      That region – except for Vienna – is traditionally called Eastern Europe, so maybe they should call it that…

  • donkey

    So I’m ten minutes outside of Budapest and the Hyperloop has been held up indefinitely by some technical problem. I’ve got a turtle’s head from the dodgy Wiener Schnitzel I ate just before departure – what happens then?

  • KarcsiNéni

    Oh great, although let’s stay realistic and add that this has zero chance of happening. It’s a publicity stunt, the traffic volume does not justify it and there’s really no need for it.

    They could build a TGV-style high-speed train and that would be more than enough, although I doubt that there would be resources for even that. Expecting the announcement of a Budapest-Bratislava-Alpha Centaury wormhole soon – that would be just about as realistic. Hope it’ll make it to Dezeen!

  • Kati Shipilenko

    Blaine the Mono!