Toronto to Montreal in 39 minutes? Futuristic people mover zips to next stage

A futuristic tube system that would sling passengers from Toronto to Montreal via Ottawa in 39 minutes has been chosen as the strongest Canadian contender to put what is for now a technological theory into practice.

Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal 'hyperloop' sole Canadian pitch short-listed for development

An artist's rendering of a hyperloop on a track leading to downtown Toronto. A pitch for a hyperloop linking Toronto and Montreal via Ottawa is among 10 winners of a global challenge. (TransPod)

A futuristic tube system that would sling passengers from Toronto to Montreal via Ottawa in 39 minutes has been chosen as the strongest Canadian contender to put what is for now a technological theory into practice.

A "hyperloop" uses electric propulsion to move magnetically levitated pods through low-pressure tubes, eliminating air resistance and friction, and enabling the pods to travel at a velocity approaching the speed of sound.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc. and SpaceX, introduced the hyperloop idea in 2013 and encouraged people and companies to expand on it.

A company called Hyperloop One, which is unaffiliated with Musk, is working to commercialize Musk's concept. It introduced a global challenge in May 2016, calling for proposals for real world hyperloop networks. About 2,600 teams registered to take up the challenge, the company said.

If it ever gets built, it would take about 39 minutes to get from Toronto to Montreal. (Hyperloop)

Sole Canadian winner

On Thursday, Hyperloop One announced the 10 winning proposals, chosen from a list 35 finalists.

The Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal route is the only Canadian winner. The company claims the high-speed train would transport passengers from Ottawa to Montreal in 12 minutes, or from Toronto to Ottawa in 27 minutes. 

The Canadian route was brought forward by a team called HyperCan, which, according to Hyperloop's website is led by AECOM, an American multinational engineering firm that has also been involved in the construction of Ottawa's light rail system.

So what happens next?

According to a media release issued Thursday, Hyperloop One will now work with the 10 winning teams "to validate and analyze their proposals further, and provide initial ridership forecasts, business case and preliminary technical analysis of the route and corridor, tailored to the needs of the individual route."

"The results of the Hyperloop One Global Challenge far exceeded our expectations," Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One, is quoted saying in the release.

"We had tremendous interest in this competition, and these 10 teams each had their unique strengths in showcasing how they will alleviate serious transportation issues in their regions."

Other winning routes

  • Mexico: Mexico City to Guadalajara.
  • U.S.: Chicago to Columbus to Pittsburgh.
  • U.S.: Dallas to Laredo to Houston, Texas.
  • U.S.: Cheyenne to Denver to Pueblo, Colorado.
  • U.S.: Miami to Orlando, Florida.
  • India: Bengaluru (Bangalore) to Chennai.
  • India: Mumbai to Chennai.
  • U.K.: Edinburgh to London.
  • U.K.: Glasgow to Liverpool.