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Virgin Hyperloop Switches Focus from Passengers to Cargo

Virgin Hyperloop has laid off almost half its staff as it switches its focus from transporting passengers to shifting freight. Cuts totaling 111 jobs were confirmed by Virgin Hyperloop, which spoke to former employees. They described the scale of the redundancies as “definitely not expected.”

The Virgin Hyperloop is one of the leading firms developing the eponymous technology — an updated version of a centuries-old idea to reduce the energy demands of trains by placing them in vacuum-sealed tubes where air resistance is minimal. The concept was resurrected in 2013 when Elon Musk published a whitepaper on the subject, incorporating magnetic levitation used by bullet trains and bestowing the current branding.

Virgin Hyperloop, formerly known as Hyperloop One, has achieved significant milestones, including the first-ever test run with human passengers. Like many companies trying to bring the experimental technology to fruition, it’s also struggled to attract funding and talent and meet deadlines. In 2017, company execs said they expect to see “working hyperloop worldwide.

A spokesperson for Virgin Hyperloop said that the recent cuts would allow the company “to respond in a more agile and nimble way and a more cost-efficient manner” and that the decision to lose so many staff at once had not been “taken lightly.” The spokesperson said the change in focus to freight over passengers “really has more to do with global supply chain issues and all the changes due to Covid.”

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