Billionaire Richard Branson’s company, Virgin Hyperloop, has just made an astonishing decision: to abandon passenger transport.
There are decisions that we can see coming, sometimes from very far away, weeks or months even before the official announcement, and then there is the communication from Richard Branson. The English billionaire is a real “showman” and he likes to surprise. He had done it particularly well during his flight in space (or almost) on July 11, thus signing the feat of being the first entrepreneur to take to the air to the (American) limits of space. .
But since then, his company Virgin Galactic has been at an impasse, if not to say on the edge of the cliff. First grounded by an investigation by the FAA, the highest American administration in charge of enforcing the law in the sky, then for various technical problems, the SpaceShipTwo could not return to the air, while its competitor Directly, Jeff Bezos and his company Blue Origin have multiplied tourist flights in space (three to date).
Virgin Hyperloop: Branson’s real treasure?
But never mind, Richard Branson can take comfort in the fact that he has other companies under his thumb, including Virgin Hyperloop, which plans to build a magnetic suspension train capable of spinning faster than sound in a large vacuum tube. The company was even on the right track in 2020, having just set up the first passenger test of its technology.
A mission which, according to the very well oiled communication of the billionaire, had gone wonderfully. But now, once again the harsh reality seems to catch up with Branson, who has just made a very strong strategic choice. According to information from the Financial Times, and despite pre-contracts already signed, particularly in India or Saudi Arabia, Virgin Hyperloop could abandon passenger transport, mainly for technical reasons.
We won’t be able to ride the Virgin Hyperloop
The new goal of the Hyperloop will therefore be to transport goods at very high speed, thus connecting cities thousands of miles away in just a few minutes. This choice made by Branson can be explained in many ways. Passenger transport on board the hyperloop is still in complete legal limbo, and the billionaire may prefer that legislation be put in place before developing his technology.
It should also be noted that freight transport is a very important financial windfall, and that the latter is more easily accessible technically speaking. Virgin Hyperloop could thus bring in funds in the coming months by focusing on the transport of goods, the company which seems to be in great financial difficulty, which has just laid off more than 100 people, or half of its workforce.