A feasibility study finds that a Midwest hyperloop system from Chicago to Pittsburgh would particularly benefit the freight industry by helping to eliminate 450 million commercial truck vehicle hours traveled, resulting in an operating cost savings of $150 million.

Study by Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) assesses the potential freight impacts of a hyperloop corridor between Chicago, Columbus and Pittsburgh.

Date Posted

2020 Hyperloop Feasibility Study

Summary Information

The purpose of this study was to determine if a Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh corridor is feasible for hyperloop technology at optimal average speeds of 500 miles per hour. This included considerations for route alignments that needed to have limited curves since the technology needs straight alignments to achieve the desired speeds.

The first task was to analyze the existing rail corridor between the three anchor cities to determine if a hyperloop route could be constructed within existing rail corridors. Hyperloop technology experts worked with the study team to determine that, while some portions of the route could be built within existing rail corridors, the route would also need new right-of-way in order to achieve optimal speeds.

Once technical feasibility was confirmed, the study team completed preliminary screenings of the best route and station locations. For route screening, the study looked at environmental constraints, engineering complexity, and right-of-way ownership. For station location screening, the study focused on local preference from community officials, population centers, and adjacent land uses. Potential stations in Ohio were identified in Lima, Marysville, Dublin and Columbus. This does not mean other stations are not feasible – rather, that for this initial study, station locations were limited to those communities which have been working and funding projects under Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC)’s Rapid Speed Transportation Initiative.

A particular focus of the study was to quantify the potential impact of a hyperloop corridor between Chicago, Columbus and Pittsburgh on road freight.

Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) was used to identify current and forecast road freight movements between the four anchor metro pairs of Chicago, Fort Wayne, Columbus and Pittsburgh. The study team used the estimated growth rate between the 2015 and 2045 FAF volumes to extrapolate out the freight estimates to 2060 to allow for an examination of the freight movements during the first 30 years of operation of the proposed hyperloop-type system.

The study team estimated the gross tonnage of time sensitive freight moved by road along the proposed alignment in a scenario with no hyperloop corridor to provide a "no build" comparison. To estimate the total weight of time-sensitive freight that could be moved throughout the corridor in a scenario in which hyperloop is built, the study team incorporated the rate at which these goods would be diverted to hyperloop from commercial truck, and estimated the number of truck trips that would be diverted each year from road freight to the Midwest Connect Hyperloop system, including additional time-sensitive freight movements that may be induced as a result of more construction of a hyperloop freight service.

In the larger economic analysis of this study, it was assumed that portions of both air freight (belly cargo) and commercial truck freight (road freight) across specific industries would shift to hyperloop for shipment throughout the region. Only freight that has been classified as time sensitive was assumed to have the potential to shift to hyperloop. For this reason, freight moved by traditional rail was not considered as shifting to hyperloop. Time-sensitive freight was defined as being composed of the following industry categories:

  • Precision instruments
  • Electronics
  • Meat/seafood
  • Live animals
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Textiles



Freight benefits assessed in this analysis total approximately $336 million over the 30-year assessment period. A summary of these freight benefits is shown in the table below.








Travel Time Savings


Operating Cost Savings


Safety Savings from VMT Avoidance


Emissions Savings from Mode Shift to Hyperloop


Total Freight Benefits




Goal Areas
Deployment Locations