Electrek has learned that Hyperloop Tech, a well-funded private company developing Elon Musk’s hyperloop, recently hired the man behind the failed ‘UK Ultraspeed’ maglev project to lead the company’s global business development for passenger systems.

UK Ultraspeed was a high-speed magnetic levitation train with a proposed 800 km (500 miles) route between London and Glasgow. The project was first proposed as an alternative to the High Speed 2 (HS2) project. After gaining some traction following its 2005 unveiling, interest in the project faded after the Department of Transport published a white paper underlining concerns over technical risk and cost estimates.

It was officially rejected for development in 2007 by the UK government in favour of HS2, which is a more conventional high-speed rail system. In 2013, all effort to make the UK Utraspeed were dropped.

From 2003 to 2010, the project was led by Chief Executive Alan James. James was coordinating both the technical and commercial teams, as well as presenting the project at the “highest levels of Government”, and to the public through extensive media coverage.

After leaving UK Ultraspeed, he joined the High Speed 2 effort as Project Director, before becoming Hyperloop Tech’s new ‘VP of Global Business Development – Passenger Systems’ last month.

On his LinkedIn profile, James writes about his quite interesting job description at Hyperloop Tech:

Worldwide primary point of contact for cities, regions and countries seeking to develop Hyperloop passenger transportation solutions: not just to transform their transport, but to radically enhance their economic competitiveness.

Working in parallel with the world class team of engineers and technologists developing the Hyperloop transportation system itself, I work with public sector partners and private sector investors to develop the business cases for corridors around the world which will deploy the Hyperloop system. This includes directing and coordinating the expert teams defining the capital and operating costs of proposed systems, and projecting their demand, ridership and revenue. Additionally, I will liaise with any public sector bodies – such as Economic Development Agencies or Inward Investment Boards – which may be co-funding or supporting a project.

James is not kidding when he is talking about a “world-class team of engineers”. Hyperloop Tech has been hiring quite a few top engineers from the aerospace industry in recent months, especially engineers from Northrop Grumman and SpaceX.

Hyperloop Tech (HT) Co-founder and CTO Brogan Bambrogan was a veteran engineer at SpaceX, where he held several senior roles in the propulsion team. After founding HT, he was later joined by several former SpaceX colleagues, including former SpaceX Falcon 9 Senior Structural Engineer Jim Coutre, now Senior Design Engineer at HT, and former SpaceX Senior Propulsion Analyst, now Director of Design and Analysis at HT.

The company recently broke ground on its “Propulsion Open Air Test” (POAT) in Nevada. It also aims to make a 3 km full-scale and full speed enclosed prototype, which should be operational by late 2016/early 2017.

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