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Columbus Named Hyperloop Contest Winner, With Route Connecting Midwest

Artist's rendition of a Midwest Connect hyperloop, which would connect Pittsburgh, Columbus and Chicago.

A futuristic, hyper fast transportation system may soon be coming to Columbus, after the city was chosen as one of 10 locations across the world that won the Hyperloop One Global Challenge.

Think of the small plastic pods that are used at banks to send a client's deposit slip from their car to the bank teller. The Hyperloop works on a similar principle, but the pods are much larger, and can send people and goods at upwards of 600 miles per hour.

If constructed in Columbus, the Midwest Connect Hyperloop would deliver passengers to Chicago in just 29 minutes or to Pittsburgh in 18. There are nine other winners, including three U.S. cities: Denver, Miami and Houston. International competitors include Mexico City and Mumbai.

Terri Flora from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission says further details, such as how the project will be financed and when it may be constructed, are still being fleshed out.

Flora said this region was selected, in part, because it presents an economic opportunity.

"There is currently no direct freight or passenger rail connection along this corridor, so there's a lot of untapped potential that not only Hyperloop saw, but these three large communities saw as well," Flora says.

Columbus, in fact, is the second largest city in the U.S. without an intercity train or bus system.

“A Hyperloop connecting Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Chicago would transform the movement of goods and people in the Midwest, and leapfrog these communities into the next century,” the company said.

Credit Hyperloop One
The proposed route for a Pittsburgh-Columbus-Chicago hyperloop, which was chosen as one of 10 winners in an international challenge.

According to NPR, Hyperloop One has been publicly tested its pod system since 2016, and this summer completed its first full systems test in a vacuum.

"With Hyperloop One, passengers and cargo are loaded into a pod and accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube," the company says. "The pod quickly lifts above the track using magnetic levitation and glides at airline speeds for long distances due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag."

The company said, using magnetic levitation, its vehicle reached a speech of 70 mph with 2Gs of acceleration. Its next step will aim for a target speed of 250 mph.

Midwest Connect's team says it hopes to meet with Hyperloop One later this year to discuss the next steps of the project.