Czech Republic and S. Korea are the latest to join the hyperloop race

Imagine near-supersonic travel from Bratislava to Brno, or from Seoul to Busan.

While the companies developing the technology need no convincing, governments are starting to take hyperloop more seriously as perhaps the next great mode of regional and even international transportation. This week, two new developments – one in Europe, one in Asia – demonstrate this point.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, which already has a development agreement with the city of Bratislava, Slovakia, has reached an exploratory agreement to connect to the city of Brno, Czech Republic. It would shorten the trip between the two cities from 1.5 hours to just 10 minutes. It's part of a greater vision to connect Bratislava and Brno with the Czech capital of Prague. Brno, already a transport hub, has a main railway station operating at capacity with 500 trains and 50,000 passengers per day.

And officials see the promise hyperloop tech offers. "Connecting Brno with Prague, and the existing efforts in Bratislava along with other cities in the region with the next generation of transportation will set the stage for a new era," says Brno Mayor Petr Vokřál.

In South Korea, the state-run Korea Railroad Research Institute (KRRI) has announced plans to develop a "hyper-tube" (read: hyperloop) line connecting the capital city of Seoul with the port city of Busan. Over the next three years, KRRI and its partners will explore the feasibility of operating a maglev train in a low-pressure tube, with the reduced friction enabling near-supersonic speeds.

The race for the hyperloop is on. Says one KRRI official, "Many countries such as the United States, Canada, and China are competing to take the lead in this futuristic technology and we will also try to preempt our global rivals." Don't forget the Czech Republic.

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