Hyperloop One, which is now Virgin Hyperloop One thanks to strong backing from billionaire Richard Branson, has signed a couple of new memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with Indian government agencies to conduct preliminary studies into hyperloop route construction feasibility.
Virgin Hyperloop One's goal (besides making their official name an increasingly difficult mouthful) is to build an India-wide national hyperloop network, and signing on Indian state governments, even if only for feasibility studies, is a key piece of the puzzle in terms of making this work. The states that have agreed with Virgin Hyperloop One as of today include Karnataka, a south-western region in India that includes Bengaluru, and Maharashtra, which includes Pune.
The MOU means that Virgin Hyperloop One can now expand on its work looking at the feasibility of routes with Andhra Pradesh, which it announced earlier this year, to cover lines connecting some of India's largest and fastest growing cities. The purpose is to identify which routes would be the most high-demand and most utilized, and to work out how connecting major urban areas with peripheral communities and commuting locations could benefit the economy overall, and how freight lines could enhance the transportation of goods and materials.
It's a long way from building an actual, functioning hyperloop – and rival HTT has signed similar agreements with Indian regional government agencies. But it's a step in the right direction, and a necessary one if Hyperloop One still aims to have its first three systems operational by 2021, as CEO Rob Lloyd told me it does back in August.
This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.