Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), have formed a joint venture in an effort to work towards transporting containers at high speed through a tube to and from the Port of Hamburg.
HTT is one of two companies currently aiming to develop a functional hyperloop – a system that features capsules containing people or goods propelled through a partial-vacuum tube at speeds reaching or even exceeding 1,000 km/h.
The goal of the joint venture is to develop and later market a hyperloop transport system for shipping containers.
Initially, the construction of a transfer station for testing purposes at a HHLA terminal in Hamburg and the development of a transport capsule for standard shipping containers are planned.
Angela Titzrath, chairwoman of HHLA’s executive board, stated: “With the hyperloop transport system, HHLA is pursuing the goal of developing an additional component of efficient logistic mobility solutions in Germany.”
Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of HTT, said: “Together, we will develop a complete system that not only concentrates on speed and efficiency, but also takes into account the issues ports face in daily operation.”
HTT’s test track for transporting people and goods is currently under construction in Toulouse, France. The first test journeys in Europe are set to take place here next year.
Michael Westhagemann, minister for economy, transport and innovation of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, said: “Digitisation and technological developments are increasingly changing our day-to-day work.
“In order for us to remain a leading global logistics hub in the future, we need new ideas and new business models in the logistics environment, as well as infrastructure projects such as the adjustment of the navigation channel of the river Elbe and the expansion of motorways.”
HTT’s rival Virgin Hyperloop One recently formed a joint venture with port operator DP World called DP World Cargospeed, aiming to tailor the hyperloop concept to the needs of freight transport.
It is hoping to be awarded a concession to develop a hyperloop between Pune and Mumbai in India, with construction on an 11 km test loop to begin next year if all goes to plan.
Regarding the safety and security of carrying cargo by hyperloops and the impact of this on cargo insurance, Capt. Andrew Kinsey, senior marine risk consultant at Allianz, told CM: “Any cargo that is carried by a conveyance needs to be secured adequately to the accelerations that the particular conveyance will subject it to.
“This means that since cargo carried aboard a hyperloop may face significantly greater securing requirements due to potential accelerations that the cargo may be subjected too. It is difficult to say as it is theoretical at present.”
In his view, while hyperloop projects will not largely affect major freight markets that are built on the foundations of economies of scale and the lowest possible unit costs, it is possible that non-traditional players in the supply chain such as Amazon may look at getting involved.
“I would expect the market would be high price, light weight cargoes with very short shelf lives. But one of the most interesting potentials is to see what type of specialty cargoes and markets may develop” added Kinsey.