Sheffield to London in 20 minutes, but does city risk missing out on transport revolution?

One of the Hyperloop pods being developed at the test site in Nevada (Hyperloop One)
One of the Hyperloop pods being developed at the test site in Nevada (Hyperloop One)
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Sheffield risks missing out on the next transport revolution - a futuristic 'train' capable of propelling passengers to London in 20 minutes - it is feared.

Hyperloop One promises to magnetically levitate pods and send them gliding through low-pressure tubes at up to 700mph, cutting pollution and slashing connection times between major cities.

The test route being built in Nevada (Hyperloop One)

The test route being built in Nevada (Hyperloop One)

The nascent technology may sound fantastic but it is the brainchild of PayPal billionaire Elon Musk and its founders say they have raised $160 million dollars of investment and already employ more than 260 people. The first full-scale prototype is completed, they add, and they hope to have three routes in operation by 2021.

Teams were invited to enter a contest to choose the first routes, and 2,600 applications have been whittled down to 35 semi-finalists, with the winners due to be announced later this year.

Three of the shortlisted routes are in the UK, including a 'North-South Connector' linking Edinburgh and London in 50 minutes via Manchester and Birmingham. Nottingham, Leeds and Newcastle are among the stops on the other two UK routes but Sheffield does not feature.

Nigel Slack, a member of the public who describes himself as a campaigner for democracy, recently asked Sheffield Council's leaders whether the city was missing out by not being part of the 'conversation' at this early stage.

He called for a meeting with Councillor Mazher Iqbal, the council's cabinet member for business, 'to see if something could be done to rescue some level of involvement for the city in these schemes'.

Responding at a cabinet meeting last month, Coun Iqbal said the bidding process had required a lot of detailed technical information the council did not have at that stage but he was happy to meet Mr Slack to discuss the matter.

Council leader Julie Dore said Hyperloop was not a priority.

She argued the council should be focused on 'credible' technology like the HS2 and HS3 high-speed rail routes, and not 'incredible' ones like Hyperloop.

She added that Transport for the North would be interested in the proposed Northern Arc Hyperloop route, linking Liverpool and Glasgow via Leeds and Manchester, if it proved successful, and said the council would keep a 'watching brief'.

The proposed Scotland-Wales route is one of three in the UK out of 35 across the world to make the Hyperloop One shortlist (Hyperloop One)

The proposed Scotland-Wales route is one of three in the UK out of 35 across the world to make the Hyperloop One shortlist (Hyperloop One)