Virgin Hyperloop One project fast-tracked in Saudi Arabia

07 October 2019 3 min. read

Saudi Arabia is on track to host one of the world’s first commercial hyperloop systems – with PA Consulting playing a role in the revolutionary transport’s development.

The Hyperloop One project is set to kick off in Saudi Arabia next year with the mass transport company encouraged by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman’s ambitions for the Kingdom to become a technologically advanced global leader. On this front, innovation and management firm PA Consulting has been busy helping develop key supporting technology for the Hyperloop system, having also previously advised Saudi business interests on Riyadh’s transformation.

For the Riyadh engagement, PA Consulting was drafted in by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce to design a business and innovation development strategy to transform the capital into the region’s leading business destination – the firm’s in-depth analysis covering everything from financial and legal frameworks to physical infrastructure and public services – and while it’s unknown if a hyperloop system was proposed at the time, it would certainly aid this ambition.

“Passengers would be able to travel from Riyadh to Jeddah in no more than 48 minutes, and within the same time from Riyadh to the UAE, and in 30 minutes from Riyadh to Bahrain,” stated Virgin Hyperloop CEO and former McKinsey partner Jay Walder in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat. The current land transit time between Riyadh and Jeddah is close to ten hours, but the potential sub-one-hour trip from Riyadh or Jeddah to NEOM may be of equal significance.Virgin Hyperloop One project fast-tracked in Saudi ArabiaRecently, Hyperloop One signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Economic City Authority to build the world’s first long-range hyperloop testing and certification track (at a length of 35 kilometers), in addition to a slated R&D facility and ‘pod’ production plant close to the King Abdullah Economic City north of Jeddah – with expectation the projects will be underway before the end of next year. The vision is for a hyperloop network stretching across the vast Arab Peninsular.

This would require not just the continued development of hyperloop technology itself, but a whole range of peripheral technological components. Here, PA Consulting’s engineering and enterprise architecture experts have been working hand in hand with the Hyperloop One team to develop the blueprint for the complex software and traffic control systems that will be needed to support such an endeavour. The firm is also a member of Hyperloop One’s Partner Advisory Board.

“Our partnership with PA is helping make hyperloop a reality, fast,” said Hyperloop co-founder Josh Giegel. “Our teams of experts have worked tirelessly together as we strive to get the first new mass mode of transport in 100 years operational. From delivering complex new technology systems and safety frameworks to shaping the long-term road map for our business, PA have been there every step of the way – blazing a trail for the industry and driving towards a brighter future for transport.”

PA Consulting describes the blueprint is has helped deliver as ‘created for customers, rather than infrastructure,’ and this human-centred sentiment is backed by PA’s Global Transport Lead Chris Lynch; “The technology and speed are incredible. But it’s hyperloop’s effect on everyday people that’s unprecedented in our lifetime. It’s projects like this that epitomise PA’s vision for the future of transport – bold, bright and changing the world we live in for the better.”