Construction on the Hyperloop Certification Center in West Virginia is expected to begin in 2021.By Jon Delano

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (KDKA) – It’s called hyperloop, a 21st century ultra-high-speed magnetic levitation transportation system that still seems a bit unreal and like science fiction. A major investment one company has made brings this closer to reality.

Pittsburgh to Chicago in just forty minutes? That’s the promise of a company working with West Virginia University, Marshall University and West Virginia — safe, high-speed travel that will be tested right in this region.

“The Hyperloop Certification Center will be in the state of West Virginia,” announced Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Hyperloop, on Thursday.

With those words, Branson announced a half-billion dollar project just south of Morgantown to advance a new transit system that could ultimately move people and cargo in just minutes between major cities.

“To bring Virgin Hyperloop Certification Center to West Virginia will create literally thousands of jobs and thousands upon thousands of opportunities,” said Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia.

On the site of a former coal mine in Grant and Tucker counties, Virgin Hyperloop will work with the Federal Highway Administration to advance and certify their vacuum tube system that moves modules at speeds of 600 mph, or twice the speed of a commercial jet.

“Really showing not just a sample of the technology — showing the hyperloop working and exists — but really showing what the commercial experience can be like,” says Kristen Hammer of Virgin Hyperloop.

Groundbreaking will be late next year with certifications by 2025.

Money editor Jon Delano asked how Pittsburgh plays in all this.

“Love that you’re from Pittsburgh,” said Ryan Kelly of Virgin Hyperloop. “We’ve been talking to Pittsburgh for a really long time with the Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh route.”

So when might this technology move us all around?

“Our goal is to have the first hyperloop system up and running by 2030. Obviously, we have to walk before we run. I’d love to see hyperloops everywhere,” added Kelly.