CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia is still in the running to be the site of a development center for high-speed Virgin Hyperloop pod-and-tube transportation.

The Hyperloop is a new mode of transportation for freight and people that can safely travel at speeds of up to 600-miles-per-hour. The autonomous system is built on columns or tunneled underground and is powered by a proprietary electric propulsion system.

Business development manager, Kristen Hammer and others visited the state this week. She was a guest Friday on MetroNews “Talkline” and said the development center would be a six-mile test facility that would establish standards for a regulatory framework and allow for operational testing.

“We’re talking about a six mile track,” Hammer said. “The challenge of the terrain, the surrounding land uses, what kinds of things are happening in that region, what’s the workforce availability, how are rural or urban are we? These are all things we take into consideration.”

Hammer made it clear they are looking to form a long-term partnership with a region.

“We don’t really just want to build a facility and exist there, locked in our buildings working by ourselves. We’re looking for a partnership in a region, both public and private,” she said.

West Virginia has provided a strong showing in the selection process and they expect to make a decision in the third quarter of 2020, Hammer said.

“We’ve heard from every West Virginian we’ve met that there is a strong community, a sense of everybody working together and getting along,” she said. “Really working together to create something better for the state, better for the region. There’s been a lot of drive and determination and we’ve been welcome with open arms everywhere we’ve gone and we really appreciate it.”

House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw mentioned the visit by Hyperloop officials during Friday’s floor session and delegates gave a standing ovation.

The system travels at airline speeds, uses less energy and is essentially weatherproof.

“The pod goes inside a tube, the reason for that is we want to remove some of the air from the tube to reduce aerodynamic drag, so we can go faster and use less energy to do so,”Hammer said,”The pod is levitated with magnetic levitation technology, so we don’t have wheels and there’s no friction or wear and tear as with rail and it’s propelled with a linear electric motor.”

Hammer says the system drastically reduces travel time, cost and emissions.

“We haven’t done any feasibility studies for West Virginia yet, but we done one in Missouri where they’re connecting St. Louis to Kansas City, it’s about a three-and-a-half hour drive and that would turn into a 30-minute Hyperloop journey,”Hammer said,”That journey would cost about as much as it would in gas to make the drive, about $30 to $40.”