Could network of tunnels costing £1.5m per mile be built between Milton Keynes and London?
Plans have been drawn up to build an underground network of tunnels costing £1.5m per mile between Milton Keynes and London.
The tunnels are designed to carry parcels in underground pods powered by a magnetic motor.
The system could deliver up to 600 million packages a year, says the company behind the initiative, a British start-up business called Magway.
And eventually the one metre wide tunnels, similar to pipes carrying water and gas, could form part of a massive wider network that would connect customers to distribution centres or shops.
Magway has already raised £1.5m through investors , which include British supermarket Ocado.
They say the tunnels would carry 72,000 carriages an hour, which would be propelled at around 30mph along the magnetic track, with each carriage holding four parcels.
The company is also in talks with Heathrow in the hope that similar tunnels could carry baggage and duty free goods to terminals.
A second round of funding opened last week as Magway aims to raise over £750,000 via the crowdfunding site Crowdcube.
Meanwhile Magway planners are currently mapping their first 56-mile section of tunnels from Milton Keynes to Park Royal in London. This could be ready in three years, they say.
The company states its aim is to install multiple pipelines across the UK and internationally.
Rupert Cruise, co-founder and managing director of Magway, said: "As the first major economy in the world to legally commit to zero emissions by 2050, the UK Government has taken positive steps towards reducing global warming. However, how we reach this target is another question.
“With no clear plan in place, not enough is being done to address the future of our transport infrastructure and, more importantly, how to tackle the problem of dangerous levels of air pollution. We need big ideas that will change the way we currently deliver goods and the face of transport for years to come.
“This funding round will take the development work that we've already completed to the next level of a commercial pilot and move the UK closer to providing a lower-carbon, less congested and safer transport infrastructure.”
Mr Cruise said the pipes would fit 90 per cent of general merchandise goods from companies such as Amazon.
The scheme would eliminate millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions annually by removing heavy good vehicles from the road as well as saving millions in road maintenance costs.
Magway has won a £650,000 grant from Innovate UK via its Emerging and Enabling Technologies competition, which described the tunnel scheme as “a bold and ambitious proposal in answer to manifest environmental issues and government priorities.”