Elon Musk's The Boring Company received a much-needed boost in legitimacy today, as it was declared the winner in a bid to build a high-speed train service to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
Musk announced in November 2017 that his startup would be bidding for the underground rail link, which is planned to transport passengers from downtown Chicago to the airport 16 miles away in 20 minutes. The route currently takes between 40 and 90 minutes by road, or 53 minutes by the existing train service.
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The Boring Company tweeted: "We're really excited to work with the mayor and the city to bing this new high-speed public transportation system to Chicago". Musk then retweeted the message to his 22 million followers.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement: "This transformative project will help Chicago write the next chapter in our legacy of innovation and invention."
The mayor is expected to say more about the project at a new conference alongside Musk later today (June 14).
Launched 18 months ago, seemingly on a whim by a Musk who said he was sick of Los Angeles traffic, The Boring Company plans to dig tunnels for at least two types of transportation system. The first, which will be used in Chicago, is known as the Loop and will see electric pods whisk passengers at up to around 125mph. However, when talking about his proposed system on Twitter last year, Musk wasn't sure if the pods will run on rails or not.
The Boring Company is also working on Musk's famed Hyperloop system, which fires electric pods through a tunnel with most of its air removed, reducing friction and allowing speeds of up to 700mph. These vehicles operate using a maglev system, levitating above rails using magnetism.
"A Loop is like a Hyperloop, but without drawing a vacuum inside the tube," Musk tweeted in November. "Don't need to get rid of air friction for short distances." He later added: "Electric pods for sure. Rails maybe, maybe not."
According to sources speaking to Bloomberg, The Boring Company beat a bid from Mott MacDonald, the 116-year-old civil engineering company which employs 16,000 staff and designed terminal five of London's Heathrow Airport. Also reportedly beaten by Musk was JLC Infrastructure, an infrastructure fund backed by former basketball player Earvin 'Magic' Johnson.
For the Chicago rail project, Mayor Emanuel said in November there will be no taxpayer money available for the construction or running of the transport link. Instead, the successful bidder must demonstrate how it will fund the project itself, and generate revenue through ticket sales and advertising.
It was also stipulated that the new route should connect the airport to downtown in 20 minutes or less, for services to run every 15 minutes for the majority of the day, and for fares to below that of taxis and ride-share services for the same journey.
The city of Chicago will now have a year to negotiate plans for the rail route with The Boring Company, then final approval to begin construction is required by the city council.