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Billionaire Richard Branson invests in Hyperloop One

Billionaire Richard Branson has invested in a company that uses land near North Las Vegas to test a mode of travel that could send cargo from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in a half hour.

Branson, a founder of the Virginconglomerate, known for its ventures in media, travel and health care, has also joined the board of Hyperloop One, according to a statement Thursday.

Hyperloop One will change its name to Virgin Hyperloop One later this year.

The company will use Virgin as one operator and use other operators depending on customer demand, according to the statement.

Hyperloop One will still control its divisions of engineering, product, design, business development and strategy independent of Virgin.

Hyperloop One Executive Chairman Shervin Pishevar and President of Engineering Josh Giegel, who previously worked at the Virgin Group spaceflight company Virgin Galactic, will stay with Hyperloop One.

The hyperloop mode of transit, designed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has the potential to send cargo from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in about 30 minutes using a pod magnetically levitated and electrically accelerated.

In a statement, Branson said he has toured the test site near North Las Vegas, where Hyperloop One has used electric propulsion to send a pod down a tubelike track at speeds of up to 192 mph. The pod reached 60 mph in 1.85 seconds.

In September, Hyperloop One announced it had selected 10 routes worldwide that are viable for a working Hyperloop track and had begun a feasibility study on a route in Colorado.

The list of routes includes four in the U.S., none of which are in Nevada. Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd has said he can launch three operating hyperloop systems by 2021.

In March 2016, Nevada approved $9.2 million of tax incentives for Hyperloop One, based in Los Angeles, for the local test track.

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at wmillward@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4602. Follow @wademillward on Twitter.

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