Transportation Current Affairs

Chennai-Vladivostok sea route: India’s effort to counter China’s OBOR

India is planning to launch major connectivity initiative, connecting Chennai with key Russian port Vladivostok via sea route with an aim to harness natural resources from Northeast Asia and Western Pacific region.

The Chennai-Vladivostok sea route will enable to transfer cargo between Chennai and Vladivostok in 24 days in comparison to over 40 days currently taken to transport goods from India to Far East Russia via Europe.

Key Facts

The proposed maritime route can be transformed into corridor that could juxtapose with Indo-Japan Pacific to Indian Ocean Corridor to counter China’s Maritime Silk Route (MSR) under Border Road Initiative (BRI) which connect entire South East Asia through road, shipping and rail links.

Russia is sensitive to growing Chinese presence in Russia’s Far-eastern region particularly increasing population from China which are settling there. It fears that this pattern could change demographics of Far-east Russia. The growing presence of other countries including India will help to bring balance China’s presence in far east region.

Background

India was first country to establish resident Consulate in Vladivostok in 1992. India’s current engagement with region is limited to isolated pockets such as Irkut Corporation in Irkutsk where Mig and Sukhoi aircraft are built and over $6 billion worth of investments by ONGC Visesh Limited in Sakhalin 1 project. The region has wealth of natural resources such as timber, mineral resources (coal & diamonds) and precious metal deposits (gold, platinum, tin and tungsten) and oil and natural gas.

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India’s first Hyperloop to come up in Andhra Pradesh

India’s first Hyperloop project will come up in Andhra Pradesh, connecting its city centres, Vijayawada and Amaravati.

In this regard, Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board (APEDB) has inked memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) for developing the project.

Key Facts

The first of its kind project in India will use a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model with funding primarily from private investors. In its first phase, HTT will conduct six-month feasibility study, following which it will construct and build HTT’s first Hyperloop in India. The proposed hyperloop will cover 35 km distance between Vijayawada and Amaravati only in five minutes.

Hyperloop Technology

Hyperloop Technology is brainchild idea of technology entrepreneur Elon Musk who dubs it as fifth mode of transportation. It is system of magnetically levitating capsules (pods) that are sent at high speeds through low-pressure tubes. It envisages tube modular transport system that runs free of friction. It uses linear Induction motors in it to control speed of pods. It is still in trial stages in different countries and not been implemented for practical use anywhere in world yet.

Advantages

Hyperloop is two-to-three times faster than fastest high-speed rail and claimed to have speeds even greater than commercial air travel. It has smaller civil engineering footprint, with no direct emissions or noise compared to railways. Hyperloop system’s capital cost per mile is 60% that of high-speed rail, and is less expensive to operate. Furthermore, Hyperloop departures could happen with a low frequency of a pod every 20 seconds which is not possible in railways.

Challenges

It requires heavy investments and therefore effective public and private sector coordination is prerequisite for implementing it. It consumes high-power compared to railways. Technical challenges and accidents may hamper its progress.

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