Richard Branson is making a Virgin train that will cross the country in 50 minutes

Andrew Griffin
Richard Branson stands in front of some of the machinery required for the Hyperloop: Greg Rose/Virgin

Richard Branson says he is working on a train to carry people across the country in 50 minutes.

He has invested heavily in Hyperloop One, the company that claims it can make super-fast train that travels at airline speed across the ground. It does so using magnets that allow the trains to be propelled across their tracks incredibly quickly.

When completed, trains would be able to shoot between London and Edinburgh in 50 minutes, the Virgin boss said. At the moment, such a journey takes roughly five hours.

Now Mr Branson has pledged money to the project and it will be re-branded as Virgin Hyperloop One. It isn't clear what involvement he or his team will have, but members of the Hyperloop One team previously worked on Virgin Galactic – the plan to get private space travel off the ground.

Mr Branson said in a post on Virgin's website that it was "incredibly excited about the technology behind Virgin Hyperloop One and the way it could transform passengers’ lives". He compared it to Virgin's work on trains and planes, claiming the company has "long been passionate about innovation in transport too, especially the development of technology that could transform people’s lives".

Hyperloop trains work by shoving people and cargo into a pod. That's then accelerated quickly through a tube, with a train hovering on magnets and kept in low-pressure, to stop the drag.

The technology has been successfully tested and is now going on to be developed for commercial applications, Mr Branson claimed.

"Earlier this summer I was fortunate to visit the site and see first-hand the exciting technology being tested," he wrote. "I was very impressed and now look forward to helping turn this cutting edge engineering into a global passenger service."

Repeated doubts have been raised about the technology and likelihood of Hyperloop ever actually being made. A number of companies have attempted to bring it to market but so far have had little luck – and Elon Musk, who became famous for proposing it, encouraged other people to develop the idea.