Sir Richard Branson steps down as chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One

Sir Richard Branson is stepping down as chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One, an ultra fast cargo system.

A statement from Virgin Group said he is leaving the role he took on last year due to “the increased commitment of time the position now requires” and that his board seat is to be filled by Patrick McCall, the chair of Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit and Virgin Rail Group.

Sir Richard said: “For the first time in more than 20 years, I took on a chairman’s role last year to help Virgin Hyperloop One through a transitional period.

“We have exciting projects in India, Spain and are working with a number of US states to further develop this ground-breaking technology.

“At this stage in the company’s evolution, I feel it needs a more hands-on chair, who can focus on the business and these opportunities.

“It will be difficult for me to fulfil that commitment as I already devote significant time to my philanthropic ventures and the many business within the Virgin Group.”

Sir Richard Branson standing in front of a Hyperloop One tube at a test site outside Las Vegas (Virgin/PA)

Virgin Hyperloop One had formed a partnership with DP World to create cargo brand DP World Cargospeed.

The aim was for items such as fresh food, medical supplies and electronics to be transported at speeds of up to 620mph and complete journeys that take four days by lorry in just 16 hours.

The Virgin Group statement said that Virgin Hyperloop One has been working with the government of Maharashtra on a plan to develop its first Hyperloop route from Mumbai to Pune and is currently working on its detailed bid.

The company has also launched its cargo division CargoSpeed in partnership with DP World, and secured an agreement with the European Union to develop a R&D test facility in Southern Spain.

Virgin Hyperloop One, confirmed Sir Richard’s departure, adding: “At our stage of development, he felt the company needs a more hands-on chairman.

“The Virgin seat will be transitioned to another Virgin Group Executive. We thank Richard for his leadership and vision as chairman. We are continuing to work in partnership with the Virgin Group to advance our first projects globally.

Earlier this year, Virgin said it was in the early stages of making the technology commercially viable after completing a full-scale test in Las Vegas.

It was looking to have “operational systems” ready by 2021.

The idea of a hyperloop system was first launched by Elon Musk in August 2013.

He is not associated with Virgin Hyperloop One but has urged interested parties to develop the technology.

- Press Association

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