U.S. firm to start building hyperloop track in Abu Dhabi next year

FILE PHOTO: Hyperloop TT co-founder and CEO, Dirk Ahlborn (R), Airtificial co-founder and chairman, Rafael Contreras (C) and Hyperloop TT chairman and co-founder, Bibop Gresta pose next to the world's first full-scale passenger Hyperloop capsule during its presentation in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain, October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo/File Photo

DUBAI (Reuters) - A U.S. company plans to start building an ultra-fast hyperloop track for Abu Dhabi’s transport system in the third quarter of 2019, it said on Wednesday.

Hyperloops use magnets to levitate pods inside an airless tube, creating conditions in which the pods can shuttle people and freight at speeds of up to 750 miles (1,200 km) per hour.

The technology, which has not been used commercially, is proposed as a replacement to existing rail infrastructure.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) said in a statement that design and engineering firm Dar Al-Handasah had invested in the U.S.-based business and would be the lead designer on the Abu Dhabi project.

It did not disclose the size of investment.

HyperloopTT signed a contract with Abu Dhabi’s state-controlled Aldar Properties in April to build a 10 kilometer track near the border with Dubai.

It previously signed a contract with Abu Dhabi’s municipal affairs and transport department in 2016 for a feasibility study to connect Abu Dhabi city with Al Ain along the Oman border.

Neighboring Dubai is backing rival Virgin Hyperloop One to build the futuristic transport system.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Mark Potter