Virgin Hyperloop Certification Center to be built in West Virginia

Oct. 13, 2020
The center will house operations, testing, training and assembly facilities for Virgin Hyperloop.

Virgin Hyperloop said last week that it will build its Hyperloop Certification Center (HCC) on a nearly 800-acre parcel of land in Tuck and Grant Counties in West Virginia. Gov. Jim Justice noted the state is the birthplace of Chuck Yeager, the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound, and the HCC will be home to the next innovation in barrier-breaking transportation.  

Work on the HCC is expected to begin in 2021 with a planned Welcome Center, Certification Track and Operations Center, Pod Final Assembly Facility, Production Development Test Center and Operations, Maintenance and Safety Training Center.

“Today is one of the most exciting days in Virgin Hyperloop’s history,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. “The Hyperloop Certification Center is the start of the hyperloop journey for West Virginia, for the United States and for the world. We’re one step closer to making hyperloop travel a reality for people everywhere.”

Virgin Hyperloop explained the HCC will create an entirely new ecosystem, creating thousands of new jobs across construction, manufacturing, operations and high-tech sectors.

“I’d like to be the first to officially welcome the folks from Virgin Hyperloop to their new home,” Gov. Jim Justice said. “For years, I have been saying that West Virginia is the best kept secret on the East Coast, and it’s true. Just look at this announcement and all it will bring to our state – investment, jobs and tremendous growth. It’s a true honor and privilege to be selected as the site for the Hyperloop Certification Center and lead the nation in this next step forward for transportation.”

The land, owned by Western Pocahontas Properties and located near Mt. Storm, is being donated to the WVU Foundation in partnership with Virgin Hyperloop. The location will allow Virgin Hyperloop to leverage intellectual capital and resources from West Virginia University, Marshall University and from across the state.

“West Virginia is well-positioned to provide a fully-integrated solution that advances the nationwide opportunity for hyperloop,” said Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop. “The engineering and scientific talent, combined with the skilled workforce and collaborative spirit we know is critical to this project, is all right here.”

In July 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council released a policy document, “Pathways to the Future of Transportation,” intended to serve as a roadmap for developers of new cross modal technologies to engage with the department. The guidance lays out a clear regulatory framework for emerging technology, such as hyperloop, and also establishes federal funding eligibility for projects utilizing the new technologies.

This federal momentum, combined with the advancements at the HCC, will pave the way for the certification of hyperloop systems in the U.S. and around the world – the first step towards commercial projects. Walder noted that the Hyperloop Certification Center’s role is a necessary next step in taking proven technology and demonstrating to regulators and certifiers that it works and is safe for passengers.

“Particularly as we look to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, it’s clear that we need a 21st century solution that will propel us forward, allowing us to not just rebuild, but actually evolve,” said Walder.“Hyperloop is that solution, and we look forward to working with our partners across the country – in places like West Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Missouri, Washington and North Carolina – to connect the country from coast to coast.”

Virgin Hyperloop aims to achieve safety certification by 2025, with commercial operations beginning in 2030.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.