Jamie Hardesty

How Hyperloop technology could transform the Northern Powerhouse from concept to reality

When we were introduced to the Northern Arc concept in June earlier this year, we could have been forgiven for - excuse the pun - assuming the idea was little more than a pipedream.

Yet, incredibly for the north of england, the transport plan to connect Newcastle to other cities in a mere matter of minutes could indeed become a reality.

What is the Northern Arc?

Hyperloop One, the business attempting to commercialise the train-in-a-vacuum-tube tech proposed by Elon Musk, has shortlisted nine routes as part of its global challenge to create more efficient, greener, on demand and faster transport across the continent.

One competing proposal hoping to be put into practice is Northern Arc, a business-led collaboration with local government to bring transformational transport to the North of the UK.

The Northern Arc route covers Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow, aims to create a coordinated, government backed, deliverable proposal which will connect Scotland with the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ partners to create a super region and showcase the north of England as a global leader of transport innovation.

What next?

The proposal led by Newcastle’s Ryder Architecture and engineering firm Arup has been selected as one of ten winners in the global challenge, fending off competition from thousands of international entries.

Working alongside other current transport improvements, the team believe the Hyperloop concept has the potential to help keep future generations moving and to transform connectivity across the north.

As technologies such as Hyperloop emerge and develop, the team says it is passionate that the UK is at the forefront of innovation.

Paul Bell, partner at Ryder said, “We are hugely excited to be selected to collaborate with Hyperloop One on this transformational proposal.

“Hyperloop One are progressing the proof of concept work in Nevada at an incredible pace.

“The north gave the world railway technology and we are passionate about making sure the north is at the forefront of the next generation of transport innovation, developing skills, expertise and system components that will be exported around the world.”

Click the image below to watch a video further explaining the Hyperloop concept.

Martin Butterworth, of Arup, added: “Progress in infrastructure and connectivity is intrinsic to the economic success of the UK. We need to be investing in current technologies to meet our transport needs today and into the future.

“But it is important also to be able to imagine where we need to be in the next 50, 75 or even a hundred years. We must always look over the next horizon at early-stage technologies that have the potential to improve the lives of generations to come. We believe Hyperloop is one such technology and worthy of further exploration.”

Editor’s analysis

Make no mistake, this is something that we we in the north of England can be genuinely excited about.

It’s true that if the north was a country itself, we’d boast the fifth largest tech sector in the world. What everyone knows is lacking, and is repeatedly cited as a barrier to further growth, is a good enough transport infrastructure.

The Hyperloop One Global Challenge called for compelling opportunities where practical application of evolving technology could be explored.

The Northern Arc presents an economic opportunity, in my opinion, to add tangible realness to the Northern Powerhouse concept.

Linking major cities across the North of England and Scotland, the innovative technology would allow passengers to travel between all cities in a little over 45 minutes. Incredible.

I mean can you imagine being able to get from Newcastle to Edinburgh in 14 minutes, or from Newcastle to Leeds in 13 minutes? The fact that we’re even talking about this seems ahead of our time!

But this is more than just a hyperloop corridor. If the north ever has the chance to compete on the world economic stage then the Northern Arc, and in turn the pan-Northern City region it would effectively create, could well act as the key to unlocking ever-expanding potential.

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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