Canadian hyperloop firm — Government needs to support innovation

Posted Jun 30, 2018 by Karen Graham
A Canadian hyperloop company is threatening to relocate its headquarters to Europe unless it secures political support at home for its technology.
Artist s rendering by TransPod Inc. shows their vision for a so-called Hyperloop tube running out of...
Artist's rendering by TransPod Inc. shows their vision for a so-called Hyperloop tube running out of downtown Toronto.
Transpod / Media
TransPod Inc. is a Canadian company designing and manufacturing ultra-high-speed transportation technology and vehicles. The Transpod vehicles are designed to travel over 1,000 kph using electric propulsion, carrying passengers and cargo between cities.
The TransPod pods are designed to travel through a tube guideway which is similar to a hyperloop system, with variations based on magnetic levitation rather than air bearings to promote vehicle stability. The company says the system is compatible with renewable energies - allowing for reduced carbon emissions.
The threat to move its company headquarters to Europe came during an interview from Europe with Sebastien Gendron, co-founder, and CEO of TransPod Inc. according to BNN Bloomberg.
"Unfortunately, we didn't get the required support so we're starting the testing in France. If we wait until the risk is zero, fine, but the company may not be anymore in Canada," said Gendron who previously worked for Airbus SE and Bombardier Inc.
He added that it would be unfortunate if the company had to move overseas to continue the development of a Canadian-made technology.
The company has proposed an elevated network that would cut travel time between Montreal and Toronto to less than an hour and relieve highway and airport congestion, he says. The line would cost $15 billion, excluding the land and could carry 12 million passengers annually.
Transpod has also proposed a second line at $6 billion that would connect Calgary and Edmonton - with a transit time of about 30 minutes.
"They're telling us every day that Canadians need to be bold, ambitious, take risk and develop innovation. So now it's time for execution," Gendron said.
Transport Canada's shows some interest
Transport Canada responded in an email, saying the government is watching the commercialization of hyperloop technology closely. a department spokeswoman wrote: "The Transportation 2030 initiative is working to modernize Canada's transportation sector through updated regulations, investments in infrastructure and the promotion of new transportation technologies,"
"The speed at which the world is changing makes it necessary for the government to explore the impact that innovation and advanced technologies can have on our environment, our economy, and our society," she wrote in an email.
Interior of Transpod
Interior of Transpod
Gendron says the Transpod system could be ready to carry passengers by the early 2030s, after first being used to carry e-commerce and perishable food. As for funding, he suggests the transportation system would be privately owned, likely by Canadian pension funds, construction firms, and other investors.
Toronto-based Transpod is competing against billionaires Elon Musk and Richard Branson, both looking to build their own hyperloop systems. However, Gendron says his company can offer better technology that is 50 percent cheaper to install and with a lower cost per kilometer than its rivals.
Transpod has already received $15 million in seed funding from Italy and expects to close $50 million in additional financial support by September. TransPod is also looking at installing its technology on several lines on the west side of France, connecting the European financial capitals of Paris and Frankfurt.