A NEAR-supersonic train that connects Edinburgh to London in just 35 minutes is a step closer to becoming a reality after its Scottish developers were shortlisted for an international prize.

An Edinburgh University team has made semi finals in the race to develop a superfast train that would run on proposed Hyperloop technology.

A pod lifts above the track using magnetic levitation and because of the low aerodynamic drag that allows it to reach speeds above airlines.

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The capsules could be sent as often as every 30 seconds and could reach maximum speed in 90 seconds.

The pod holding up to 28 passengers hurtles along a low-pressure tube, reaching a maximum speed of 760mph, faster than a Boeing 747.

The ambitious technology was popularised by Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and Paypal, and has been promoted through technical competitions aimed primarily at university students.

The Edinburgh team are up against routes including Sydney to Melbourne, Shanghai to Hangzhou and Mumbai to Delhi with 11 US teams also in contention.

It is estimated capital cost per mile of a Hyperloop system is 60 per cent that of high-speed rail and would be less expensive to operate, and it is claimed it will be up to three times faster than the fastest high-speed rail.

It is also environmentally friendly, with a smaller civil engineering footprint, more efficient energy consumption and no direct emissions or noise.

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The developers said that pylons supporting the low-pressure tube can follow existing rights of way, running along existing road and rail routes.

The Edinburgh University Hyperloop team, called HypED, are now at the semi final stage of the Hyperloop One Global Challenge .

They are among 35 routes shortlisted for the Hyperloop One project, which have been whittled down from 2,600.

Their route is planned to go via London - Birmingham – Manchester – Edinburgh route, in a total travel time of 35 minutes, a fraction of the current time of well over four hours.

Carolina Toczycka, head of commercial at HypED said: “Our corridor is intended at being the transportation ‘spine’ of the United Kingdom spanning throughout the country and joining together major population and economic activity centres."

The team is made up of 50 students from the School of Engineering, Edinburgh College of Art, the School of Business and the School of Law. and has already won the Subsystem Excellence Technical Award for innovation in design in January 2016, in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition in Texas.

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Now, HypED said it is committed to reaching the final in California in summer 2017 when the teams will have an opportunity to test their designs of half-scaled pods on the track specifically built by SpaceX.

The contest involved submitting a commercial feasibility study and the team has provided an analysis of existing passenger and cargo flows, existing infrastructure, as well as of the regulatory framework and expected wider economic benefits.