Speech by Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, at the Hyperloop One’s Vision for Europe
Ladies and gentlemen, friends from California and from all over Europe, fellow hyperloop enthusiasts,
Welcome to the Netherlands. And welcome to Amsterdam. My country is proud to be hosting this Hyperloop One Challenge showcase event. Proud, because the Netherlands wants to lead the world when it comes to innovative and sustainable mobility. Proud, because the Netherlands is the perfect partner to help take the hyperloop forward.
I’d like to thank Hyperloop One for coming to the Netherlands and inviting me to share my vision on Hyperloop and innovative mobility.
What began in 2013 as a white paper by Elon Musk is really starting to take shape. Pods are being developed around the world. Hyperloop One has a pod and tube in Nevada. I have no doubts the technology will be proven. But a profitable business case is equally important.
And that’s why you are here − today and tomorrow. Today we’ll hear about the technology and developments that are taking place. Tomorrow, the participants in the hyperloop challenge will present their business cases.
I’d like to congratulate all participants on getting this far. It’s great to see countries from all over Europe represented. I’m very excited to hear about all the entries!
All the ingredients for success are here: vision, determination, a competitive edge. Not forgetting your enthusiasm. Which is almost tangible! It’s like we’re preparing to run a marathon and we know we’re going to be the first to complete it in under two hours!
You’ve noticed: I share your enthusiasm. Elon Musk’s approach and competition fascinate me. As does the approach of Hyperloop One and this business case challenge. It’s generating ideas and momentum for the Hyperloop concept. Also, our guys from Delft, winners of the last competition in California, have inspired me to look further ahead.
Ladies and gentlemen,
A new era of mobility has begun. In the next 20 years, we’ll see more changes than we’ve seen in the last 100 years. A 100 years ago, the car and the plane joined the ranks of the ship, train and bike. Today we can’t imagine life without them. They’ve continued to develop, but they may not be around forever. A new era has dawned, with self-driving cars, platooning trucks, and drones that can transport people.
10 years ago, who could have imagined that:
- cars would stay in lane automatically and park themselves?
- that we’d be doing trials with truck platoons across Europe?
- or that we’d be testing self-driving cars in the centre of Amsterdam and on motorways?
We’re seeing ever more advanced apps that guide travellers from A to B, regardless of the mode of transport. Mobility is becoming a service. Soon we’ll be able to summon a self-driving car whenever you want. I believe today’s pre-schoolers will never need a driving licence.
Hyperloop is another one of these previously unimaginable developments. I’m keen to see if we can keep up the pace. Because if so, we’ll be using Hyperloop very soon indeed.
I’m proud the Netherlands is seen as trendsetter in this new era. I want us to remain Europe’s number one country for sustainable and innovative mobility. I want us to become the global number one. We want to be the Smart Mobility Centre of the world!
The Netherlands is already a major player in global logistics. We see our country as the gateway to Europe. Our infrastructure is among the top 3 in the world.
- We have two mainports: the Port of Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport.
- In Brainport Eindhoven you’ll find innovation giants like Philips, ASML and TomTom – as well as many startups.
- And in the Westland area you’ll find the Greenport: the world’s second-biggest exporter of agricultural products and a world leader in green scientific research.
So Mainport… Brainport… Greenport… Hyperport? I’m certainly up for the challenge!
I’ll give it to you straight: the Netherlands has every reason to encourage innovative mobility. If we don’t, our country will grind to a halt. Traffic jams are growing. As are the number of passengers on public transport. Especially on routes in and between our major cities. We also need to reduce carbon emissions.
So we need new concepts to keep the Netherlands moving. Concepts which will add new modes of travel on top of the existing infrastructure.
Hyperloop can be the game changer. Fast, quiet, innovative and sustainable. Thanks to solar panels the hyperloop promises to be the only net-positive energy transportation system.
Imagine boarding in Amsterdam… putting on a seatbelt like on a plane… and arriving in the centre of Groningen, Enschede or Maastricht 10 minutes later, with no taxiing or waiting around… Hyperloop would offer our country unknown possibilities!
But it starts with running tests. Hyperloop One, the Dutch Hyperloopteam HARDT and the new team of students from Delft University of Technology have all asked for a test track in the Netherlands. Last week, I opened Europe’s first Hyperloop test facility at Delft University of Technology. But that’s only 30 metres long. In Nevada,
Hyperloop One has a 500-metre test track. Now you’re looking to build a 15-kilometre test track, which could perhaps even be expanded to 50 kilometres.
I can tell you that I’m doing a study to assess the possibilities of building this in the Netherlands. I’m looking at a range of issues, including the technology, cost, spatial planning and opportunities for the Dutch economy. It might be possible to build it near Lelystad, right at the heart of the Netherlands.
I can even imagine, after successful tests, extending the track to Schiphol, 55 kilometres away. That’s an interesting prospect, because, from 2019, certain charter flights will be using Lelystad Airport, rather than Schiphol. A hyperloop would let us create a single, integrated airport. It would take 4 minutes to travel between the two locations. Instead of the current 45!
I am very excited... But talks to form a new government in the Netherlands are ongoing. So depending on the speed of that process, it will probably not be me who takes the final decision.
That said, a test track would be a very interesting prospect for the Netherlands. We already have world-class test facilities for the air and space industries, as well as for water management, autonomous driving and drone technologies. Boeing already uses our wind tunnel. We’re very pleased to have them! Because technological breakthroughs are always an interesting prospect. Aerospace spinoffs, for instance, are the source of many new opportunities and jobs.
I’d like to invite Hyperloop One and every other innovative competitor from the Netherlands and beyond to engage with us and explore the possibilities! The Netherlands and its companies can assist with safety cases and certification. ‘Made in Holland’ is an internationally recognised guarantee of safety.
I’m also working on adapting Dutch laws so that they encourage innovation. This includes creating a single Mobility Act. That way, we won’t have to make new legislation each time a new type of transport emerges. And we won’t have to keep making exceptions. We want mobility to truly become a service.
Standardisation, open access and open source are my priorities. We mustn’t have different systems or tube diameters in each country…
California gives us the vision and the ‘man on the moon’ ambition. I’m impressed with the ambition, drive and confidence of the Hyperloop One team. California and the Netherlands share a close bond. I’ve visited Sillicon Valley many times in recent years. We share the same ‘can do’ mindset. And, unfortunately, our highly populated areas are responsible for high carbon emissions. But we also share a commitment to doing something about it. Including through sustainable mobility.
More and more, California and the Netherlands are becoming partners in innovation. A healthy mix of competition and cooperation is important. Cooperation between businesses, but also between businesses and government authorities.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I’d like to wish all of the participants the best of luck for tomorrow, of course the Dutch entry as well! I hope all attendees take the hyper-positive energy they’ve experienced in Amsterdam back home with them. I am convinced Hyperloop will benefit from competitions like this one. Competition is good for innovation, good for business and, ultimately, good for consumers. I’m keen to see the progress we’re going to make. Hopefully, thanks to a test track in the Netherlands.
I’d like to close with a quote from President Kennedy’s famous ‘We choose to go to the moon’ speech from 1962:
We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people.
We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.