Virgin Hyperloop will build its next facility in coal country

The Hyperloop Certification Center will be built in Charleston, West Virginia

Virgin Hyperloop

A former coal mine in Tucker and Grant County, West Virginia, is the location for Virgin Hyperloop’s new Hyperloop Certification Center, a facility designed to get the technology ready for implementation. The news comes after an invitation for states to tender to host the facility, which was launched at the end of 2019 with 17 states participating. A bi-partisan effort to put West Virginia ahead of the queue was backed by Senator Joe Manchin and Gov. Jim Justice.

When completed, the facility will work on developing the “regulatory and commercial” elements of the technology. For instance, it’ll work on safety testing, scenarios which will determine the best boarding-and-disembarkation methods for passengers and passenger comfort while in flight. It will also dig into the best ways of making this system work in the real world, while the Nevada facility -- DevLoop -- works on the technology.

This will be crucial, especially to make the business case to investors and the safety one to regulators, which is the next big hurdle. Thankfully, Virgin Hyperloop has found sympathetic ears in Washington, and the DoT has already added policies that make future projects potentially eligible for federal funding.

As part of this facility, there will be a six mile test track built in the surrounding area which can be used to finalize testing. It’s not clear for now if it will form an actual service in future, but the company has confirmed that people will ride this route as part of testing. Construction will have to begin pretty quick to meet the company’s ambitious goals of getting regulatory approval for its route by 2025, and passenger services by 2030.