Kansas City’s hopes to land a high-speed commuter route to St. Louis continue to shoot forward, a Hyperloop official confirmed Thursday.
Two weeks after the State of Missouri entered into a public-private partnership with Hyperloop to study the feasibility of a 23-minute supersonic track between the two cities, the Associated Press reports Missouri is a leading contender for the competitive project.
The KC-St. Louis line is among Hyperloop’s top five options, if not among the top three, Dan Katz, Hyperloop global head of policy, told the AP.
Hyperloop’s system is described as high-speed rail travel in a vacuum. Levitated pods are propelled by electric motors through a series of interconnected tubes that create a low-pressure environment, allowing the pods to glide with limited friction at speeds that surpass air travel.
In Kansas City’s case, the technology would allow users to avoid traveling to St. Louis on I-70. If Missouri is successful in scoring a Hyperloop route deal within the next few weeks, it would likely substantially aid the efforts of both Kansas City and St. Louis in luring Amazon’s second headquarters to one of the cities, officials have said.
Many were surprised in early October to learn of Missouri’s feasibility study with Hyperloop after the route seemingly was eliminated from earlier consideration by the company. When Hyperloop announced its four “winning” U.S. routes in September, the KC-to-St. Louis track was not among them.
The Missouri Hyperloop Coalition, which is responsible for the $1.5 million privately-funded study, is comprised of MDOT, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the KC Tech Council, the University of Missouri System and the Missouri Innovation Center in Columbia. No Kansas governmental or private agencies are part of the effort.
Hyperloop is also now conducting a feasibility study for a Pueblo-Denver-Cheyenne route, which spans 360 miles and is accessible to about 4.8 million people, according to Hyperloop. A separate study is being undertaken in Texas, the AP reports.
The Virgin Group announced last week a substantial investment in Hyperloop, with the latter company’s full name transitioning to Virgin Hyperloop One.