Flemish Minister of Innovation Hilde Crevits (CD&V) is having research conducted into whether Flanders can be a strategic partner in the rollout of a hyperloop network. That's a new mode of transport in which large volumes of goods or large groups of people are transported through tubes, at speeds that can reach 1,000 km/h.

"The possibilities of the hyperloop system are phenomenal. It's still in the future, but this would be an important step in reducing road freight," says Crevits. For example, the travel time between Brussels and Schiphol Airport could be reduced to 21 minutes.

In essence, this is a network of tubes - above ground where possible, underground where necessary - connecting different cities and regions. Inside the tubes, "pods" move in a vacuum and at high speed (up to 1,000 km/h) between the different connections in the network. But, says Crevits, "taking into account slope and curves, a maximum speed of 500 km/h is more likely."

"The hyperloop system is a combination of existing technologies from different industries that together form a new mobility solution. This is precisely where Flanders has assets as a knowledge economy," Crevits makes the case. She has now appointed VIL, the contact point for the logistics sector, as "hyperloop manager" to analyze the concrete interest and capacity of the Flemish industry and universities.

Already in 2019, VLAIO conducted an exploratory study on opportunities for Flemish industry and knowledge institutions, which focused mainly on the development of components requiring strong industrial capacity and academic knowledge. VIL will now concretize the recommendations in that study by the Agency for Innovation & Enterprise.

The test infrastructure of the hyperloop system will initially be developed in the Netherlands and France, Crevits knows.

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