Thailand needs hyperloop not China rail


BANGKOK • A tycoon turned politician who opposes Thailand’s military government has criticised its US$5.6 billion (RM23.18 billion) high-speed rail project with China because hyperloop technology offers a more modern alternative.

An option such as Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One — which is working on building networks of pods travelling at airplane-like speeds — is better for Thailand as it would help the nation to be a technological leader, according to Future Forward Party head Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (picture).

“If you invest in highspeed trains, all you do is import everything from abroad, whereas with the hyperloop, there’s an opportunity to build the industry in Thailand if you move first,” Thanathorn said in an interview on Monday.

The military government in power since a coup more than four years ago has prioritised high-speed rail under a two trillion baht (RM256.68 billion) transport action plan it describes as the biggest such advance for Thailand in two decades. The China project is the first part of a rail line that would eventually run to Laos.

Thanathorn argued that hyperloop technology can create more local jobs, apart from being environmentally friendlier and cheaper to build.

It would also be part of a balancing act, so that Thailand isn’t reliant on China, he said in the interview in Bangkok. “Many people said that this is just a dream,” he said. “But it’s our duty to propose new ideas.”