Fort Wayne route a worldwide finalist for pod-transportation system

A Hyperloop tube is displayed during the first test of the propulsion system at the Hyperloop One Test and Safety site on May 11, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (WANE) — A line that would connect Chicago with Fort Wayne, Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh has been chosen as one of 10 worldwide finalists in a private company’s challenge to move passengers at speeds of nearly 700 mph using a pod and tube system.

Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One announced the finalists Thursday in a competition that attracted attention from more than 100 countries across six continents. The company is trying to identify the best routes for its new transportation system, which would use pods lifted above a track by magnetic levitation.

The pods would glide at airline speeds because of ultra-low aerodynamic drag in the tube.

The plans submitted to Hyperloop One call for a possible route from Chicago to Fort Wayne, then on to Columbus, Ohio and ending in Pittsburgh. The 488-mile trip could be made in 49 minutes on a Hyperloop pod, compared to nearly 4 hours on a plane or nearly 8 hours in a car, according to Hyperloop.

It’s not clear from plans whether Fort Wayne would be a stop on the route, but the Indiana Department of Transportation and the city of Fort Wayne joined numerous other agencies, officials and municipalities to make up the Midwest Connect team that submitted a plan to Hyperloop.

The project is in its very early stages, of course. Hyperloop said it will now work with a local team to “validate and analyze their proposals further, and provide initial ridership forecasts, business case and preliminary technical analysis of the route and corridor, tailored to the needs of the individual route.”

Hyperloop plans to produce three of its systems by 2021.

The proposed Hyperloop route, at least from Chicago to Columbus with Fort Wayne in the middle, is the same touted for a new high-speed rail system. In December, the line was awarded federal and state approval and a study was conducted. It’s expected to be done in late fall.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.