Beardy Branson chucks cash at His Muskiness' Hyperloop idea

Firm built round improbable concept now to be known as Virgin Hyperloop One

Richard Branson, the billionaire behind the Virgin brand, has reportedly invested an undisclosed sum in Elon Musk’s barmy Hyperloop supersonic tube train project, seemingly competing with the billionaire ideas man's own firm.

Beardy gets to join the Hyperloop One board, according to the Beeb, and the firm will also add its ubiquitous Virgin moniker to the firm’s name, meaning it will now be known as Virgin Hyperloop One.

The rebrand and ascension of Branson to the board suggests that a large sum has made its way from billionaire Beardy into Hyperloop One’s coffers, though terms of the deal were not revealed.

“Ever since our creation, Virgin has been known for disruption and investing in innovative companies,” burbled Beardy’s PR flunkies. “Importantly, Virgin Hyperloop One will be all-electric and the team is working on ensuing it is a responsible and sustainable form of transport too.”

Hyperloop is a supersonic tube train. The idea is that magnetic levitation suspends the carriages above the tracks and propels them between stations. Enclosing the system inside a tube apparently means it could, according to press releases, do the journey between London and Edinburgh within 50 minutes. Britain’s existing railway network, originally laid out by the Victorians, currently completes that journey in around 4.5 to 5.5 hours.

The concept was expressed by Musk a few years ago and "open-sourced". Currently just three high-profile companies are interested in the Hyperloop idea: Hyperloop One, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and His Muskiness' own Boring Company.

Back in July, His Muskiness grandly announced to the world that he, er, had a verbal contract to start building a Hyperloop.

Say what you like about him, Musk does have a thing for eyecatching and amusing names for his ventures: he has also created a Boring Company to dig tunnels for Hyperloop. Boring a hole, geddit? But boring holes are also relatively uninteresting! Chortle, chortle.

The Virgin brand has been on everything from the record company that originally embiggened Beardy’s bank account back in the 1970s, courtesy of music maestro Mike Oldfield, to airlines, telcos, at least two train companies in the UK alone, marathons, banks, gyms and more.

Various high speed rail projects have been proposed and built over the years to reduce journey times compared to existing railways. Some have achieved this, normally at a cost of billions to the public purse. The infamous High Speed Two railway line, planned to run between London and various Midlands cities, is supposed to run at around 400kph (250mph) using conventional electric trains on newly built track.

While HS2 has been publicly sold as decreasing journey times (by a whopping 10 minutes between London and Birmingham), its main, and strangely undersold, benefit is creating extra capacity between the capital and major regional cities. The West Coast Main Line, which HS2 will mostly duplicate, is at near full capacity during morning peak hours on its southern stretches, with 200kph (125mph) trains running at intervals of just 120 seconds. ®

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