Will the first Hyperloop soon be at Hamburg harbor?

Cooperation between HHLA and Hyperloop TT

Every container ship that reaches the port of Hamburg has already made a long journey across the world’s oceans. For the containers, however, the trip goes even further. Gradually they are unloaded from the ship and then transported to their destination by road. And this is exactly where things will get faster soon. HHLA, the most important terminal operator at the Port of Hamburg, intends to cooperate with the American company Hyperloop Transportation Technology in the future. Together, the companies want to build a long tube through which containers can be shot from Hamburg at a speed of 1200 km/h to their destination.

HHLA boss Angela Titzrath knows that the project will face a lot of criticism. But constant complaining that Germany is far behind when it comes to digitization is not the answer either. Anyone who wants to change something must be courageous and pursue visionary projects. “A courageous start is half the battle” said Titzrath.

In addition to Hyperloop TT, there are three other companies involved in the development and implementation of the Hyperloop concept. Elon Musk once presented the idea, but he has no connection to Hyperloop TT. According to Hyperloop TT boss Dirk Ahlborn, the development of the technology has progressed a long way, especially in terms of passenger transport. Humans shall be transported in a capsule, which is similar to the body of an airplane. This capsule lies in a tube, which produces negative pressure by a pump system. This makes it possible to travel at speeds of up to 1200 kilometers per hour.

The first people will travel with a Hyperloop already in 2019. In comparison, the system’s adjustment to containers is really minimal. Even though containers are much heavier than people, it is quite complex to transport people. After all, a container doesn’t get sick during the journey. “Anyone who can transport people can also transport goods” said Ahlborn.

To implement the project, HHLA and Hyperloop TT form a joint venture. The contracts were just signed last Wednesday. However, it is still unclear who will be the managing director of the joint venture. A total of around seven million euros will flow into the project.

The first step will be to develop a transport capsule for goods transport, to build a transfer station and to build a first test track. Although the timetable is pretty tight, Germany must finally dare to do more and rekindle the spirit of innovation “which is always admired at Silicon Valley”. In addition, it will be necessary to change some legal regulations, said the CEO. German building and planning law often makes it difficult to implement new ideas.

Titzrath has already been head of HHLA for two years. It is probably no accident that she has set herself exactly this time for the project: in 2021 the IST World Congress, one of the most important trade fairs for intelligent transport systems, will take place in Hamburg. If Titzrath manages to present a test track by then, this will not only be good for HHLA’s image, but will also make it possible to sell the technology to other port locations around the world.

This would also mean that money would flow into HHLA’s funds, which could also be used to finance HHLA’s own Hyperloop connection to the surrounding area. Around 4100 containers could be processed daily at a Hyperloop terminal. This means that fewer truck journeys would be required, which at the same time means less exhaust pollution. Sometimes you just need a little imagination in life, said Hyperloop-TT boss Ahlborn.