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HyperloopTT signs deal for first test track in China-People's Daily

SHANGHAI, July 19 (Reuters) - California-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) has signed a deal with the southwestern province of Guizhou to build the U.S. firm’s first test track in China, local media reported on Thursday.

HyperloopTT and government-owned Tongren Transportation Tourism Investment Group will set up a 50-50 joint venture that will build a hyperloop track and conduct research into the technology, the People’s Daily newspaper said.

The joint venture will build a 10 kilometre-long track in Guizhou’s Tongren city as part of the first phase, it said, adding that the two parties will co-own any intellectual property developed during the project.

An executive at Tongren Transportation Tourism Investment Group confirmed to Reuters that a deal had been signed but declined to provide details. The Guizhou government and HyperloopTT did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A hyperloop uses magnets to levitate pods inside an airless tube, creating conditions in which the pods can propel people and freight at speeds of up to 750 miles (1,200 kms) per hour.

While still an unproven technology, the concept was popularized by Tesla founder Elon Musk. Last week, Tesla signed a deal with the Shanghai government to build the electric car maker’s first plant outside the United States.

HyperloopTT also has agreements to build systems in other countries such as Ukraine and is currently building a test track in France.

China runs the world’s longest high-speed rail line and is itself looking to build its own supersonic transport network. HyperloopTT’s main other competitor is Virgin Hyperloop One, which is backed by British billionaire Richard Branson.

State-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), one of the country’s major space contractors, is working on a system that can shuttle trains at a maximum speed of 1,000 kilometres per hour and is eyeing technologies that could go as fast as 4,000 kilometres per hour in the future. (Reporting by Brenda Goh and Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Sunil Nair)