Digest: Hyperloop carries first passengers

News Wire Digest fourth section for Nov. 9: Wabtec, Chinese subway line introduce 'smart windows;' Northern Michigan rail project delayed by pandemic
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Virgin Hyperloop says passengers rode in its pod for the first time on Sunday at its Nevada test facility.
Virgin Hyperloop

Monday midday rail news:

Virgin Hyperloop carries first passengers on Las Vegas test track

Virgin Hyperloop says it made transportation history on Sunday in the Las Vegas desert, where two people became the first to travel by hyperloop pod. Josh Giegel, company co-founder and chief technical officer, and Sara Luchian, director of passenger experience, were the first to ride in the pod, which uses electric propulsion and electromatic levitation inside a vacuum tube, after more than 400 unoccupied tests on a 500-meter test site. The New York Times reports the pod reached 107 mph and traveled the test track in 6.25 seconds. “When we started in a garage over 6 years ago, the goal was simple – to transform the way people move,” Giegel said in a press release. “Today, we took one giant leap toward that ultimate dream, not only for me, but for all of us who are looking towards a moonshot right here on Earth.” The hyperloop technology promises to deliver travel speeds of up to 600 mph.

Wabtec has installed six 'smart windows,' offering information and internet access, on a subway train in Shenzhen, China.
Wabtec, Chinese subway system combine on debut of 'smart windows'
Wabtec is partnering with China’s Shenzhen Metro and CRRC Nanjing Puzhen Co. to test “smart windows” on Shenzhen Metro railcars, providing information and internet access. Six of the smart windows have been installed on one subway train on the system’s Metro Line 6. “The Smart Window is an exciting technology as metro transit authorities look to enhance the passenger experience,” Christophe Fevre, Wabtec’s Information and Safety Business Unit director, said in a press release. “This demonstration project will provide valuable, real-world information on this product and how riders interact with it. The Smart Window technology has great potential and represents the future of passenger amenities on transit rail systems.” The windows will provide a view and serve as an interactive information source, using organic light-emitting diodes and poly-silicon film transitors to create a transparent high resolution display. The transparency of the windows adjusts automatically based on the brightness outside, and features touch-screen functions along with integrated speakers. They also include 4G internet access, allowing passengers to browse the web.

Ann Arbor-Traverse City rail proposal set back by pandemic
A proposal to revive rail service between Ann Arbor and Traverse City, Mich., has been pushed back by the COVID-19 pandemic, but remains alive. The Traverse City Ticker reports the project, known as A2TC, had hoped to begin running excursion trains for special events like Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival and peak fall foliage, according to Hans Voss, executive director of the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, which advocates for projects to improve daily life. Voss notes that one major hurdle to rail service — track conditions which did not meet passenger standards — has mostly been addressed. The larger questions, in the wake of the pandemic, are of funding and the long-term impact of the virus on rail ridership.
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