Posting in Design
Getting on a local train in Boston and getting off in San Francisco? A U.K. design firm says non-stop high-speed rail is the future of train travel.
Rail travel as we know it may be about to change.
Trains that stop at stations? Waiting on a platform for your next transfer? Driving to the station before boarding your train? How very 19th Century, says U.K.-based transportation design firm Priestmangoode.
Moving Platforms, the group’s innovative design for rail transportation, would allow passengers to board a local train in their town or neighborhood, which would then connect -- literally -- with a high-speed train on a neighboring track.
Using a docking mechanism (see photo), passengers could then transfer on and off the high-speed train without it needing to stop at a station. With Moving Platforms, you could conceivably board a local train in Boston and get off in San Francisco without ever stopping.
Take a look at this video to see the plan in motion:
While there is much talk both in the U.S. and around the world these days of creating high-speed rail networks, the designers at Priestmangoode argue that existing plans for high-speed rail would involve a costly and environmentally damaging network of new train stations. They say that high-speed trains also waste energy and time by having to continually speed up and slow down to stop at stations.
"I can't believe that across the world we are spending billions on high speed rail, making it run on a network that was invented in the 19th Century,” said Paul Priestman of Priestmangoode.
The company’s plan envisions the use of local rail networks, limiting the need for large train hubs - and in some cases, the need to drive to a station.
The Moving Platforms system would make use of pre-existing rail lines, which usually run express and local lines alongside each other. By maintaining a consistent speed and not having to stop, the trains would also be much more energy-efficient, according to the designers.
"I’m under no illusion that Moving Platforms is a big idea, but if we really want high speed rail to be successful and change the way we travel, getting people off the roads and reducing the number of short haul flights, it is imperative that the infrastructure we use works with, not against, this new technology to enable a seamless passenger journey from start to destination," Priestman said. "The days of the super-hub train station are over, connectivity is the way forward.”
While Priestmangoode's proposal may seem revolutionary, the group is not the first to propose non-stop rail travel. For a glimpse at Taiwanese designer Peng Yu-lun’s 2008 vision of non-stop rail, watch this clip:
Jun 23, 2011
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...So just how does that NOT negate the "saves energy" argument? PLUS the expense of maintaining THAT network of stop-start trains in good repair... The only thing this scheme "saves" is the (implied) cost of the new stations, and the schedule time saved by not stopping the fast trains. And they could save the station building costs simply by not building new stations, and using the existing ones instead... which they'd be doing ANYWAY... Yet another mirage shot down in mid-leap, by shifting from fantasy "thought" to real thought. (Good thing we carry the expense of paying all these "experts" to come up with these fantasy "savings...")
Do not put HSR train stations as close as they want to. It is stupid to put HSR stations less than 100 miles apart. Anything less than that you are wasting time and energy constantly accelerating or decelerating. If they want to do HSR trains efficiently they need to combine cargo with passenger service on one train with infrequent stops. This means rebuilding thousands of miles of express rails the US government tore up in the 1970s. A good example would be a HSR train running across the southern US from Jacksonville FL to San Diego with stops in New Orleans, Houston, El Paso and Phoenix. During the passenger transfer the cargo cars of the train would be swapped out making the time of the stop more efficient. Other HSR trains running north / south from those cities would make up a new HSR grid crossing the country to move passengers and cargo. Container cargo could be shipped from the port of San Diego to Chicago with one train change. Similar HSR trains would run east / west through the central and northern parts of the nation completing the grid. These trains need to terminate in port cities on each coast to be effective. Affordable to operate regional trains running at speeds up to 100 mph would operate on regional grids that would feed passengers and cargo from smaller cities into the HSR rail grid. This is very similar to the grid that supplied the US war effort in WW I and WW II that was dismantled in favor of the Interstate Highway System. Eisenhower never intended his highway system to replace trains. It was supposed to complement them as part of a comprehensive transportation grid as Germany used its Autobahns to complement its railroads.
I've often daydreamed that a type of boarding apparatus such as employed at ski lifts would serve this need. You could have "lift chairs" that hold groups of people or even vehicles! As the train moved through the lift station these pre-boarded lift vehicles would mate with the "cable", that is, the high speed train with mating platforms to hold the lift vehicles.
Look, the richest country in the world can't build 8 miles of above ground commuter rail for under $5 billion dollars! In the two richest suburbs in the nation outside the nation's capital! This And there is talks that it could reach $8 billion when all is said and done! There it *NO WAY* this thing will be built unless it is the Chinese!
Why not do it the way the trains usta pick up mail. The mail bag would be hanging from a post and some guy would stick out a butterfly net and "catch" the mail as the train sped by. Hang a passenger on a post and sweep them in with a huge fish net.
I hate to say it, but many of you are still dwelling on the "why it won't work", stuck in linear paradigms. Nobody told the engineers at Disney that they could not accelerate from 0 to 100 in 260 feet with the Tower of Terror. Nor could they accelerate from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds from a horizontal start. But they did. Could similar approaches be used? Obviously, one would have to slow down the acceleration for the faint (feint?) of heart. :) All I'm trying to say is that you can't just point out the negatives. That is just as bad as the snake oil salesperson that only points out the positives. Just look at China, and the high speed rail system they are putting in. Google what folks were saying just 10 years ago about it, and now it looks like it may be done by 2019, a full year ahead of an aggressive schedule. Think out of the box, or all the roller coasters will look the same!
Great point. The US rail system made money until the postal service stopped shipping mail by train and started using trucks. Every express train running between cities carried tons of mail which made the trains more cost effective to carry pasengers. China has not done it yet, but they claim to be developing cargo cars for their HSR.
Planes may fly at 550 mph, but if you take check-in, security, arriving at least an hour early, etc. into account, how fast are you really going? I may be an idiot, but if I spent 30-years studying something I'm sure I would have come up with a way to make it work rather than lame reasons not to try. Or was that the goal of your study?
I think that such a system would work OK for societies where the majority of people do not have individual transportation so that the volume might make it economical. The problem with mass transport is that it rarely goes to where you want it to go at the time you want to go. Trains are fantastically efficient for cargo, but the costs to an individual usually make planes a more sensible option for long distance, and buses for shorter trips. Likely you could solve more of the problems related to the trains by simply having smaller trains using smaller, more cost effective engines and having them run more frequently. Some trains would get overloaded, but if you have a good ticketing system the additional 15 minutes would be a price many would be willing to pay for lowered costs. Also, if you have trains that did not need to make as many stops, that would likely help.
If they did it at 30 MPH or even 60 then you would only need around 15 miles of precisely aligned set of tracks in order to transfer people from one to another in a 5 minute period. That would likely save 20 minutes of stop time going into / out of a station and over a 30 station trip (1 every 100 miles?) that would save 600 minutes thus 6 hours of travel time and the resultant higher efficiency. Now as to if the Federal Government would spend the 4.4 billion dollars it would take to build 30 sets of dual 15 miles of tracks(at 5 million a mile, yes, lowball cost to make it look better) plus a few billion per train (and would need at least 10 trains running, plus 5 spares for maintenance / testing / research) so add in another 15 billion there and that only allows ONE set of point to point travel like NY to LA. If you don't live along the line within 200 miles then no one is going to use it. It took around 80 years to get the whole US rail net up and 30 years to destroy it since the last heydays in the 1950s. To build out nationally it would take around a trillion dollars and over 30 years. Now if it was REALLY economical - it would have already been built. But since it has NEVER been built - it kind of proves not economical from a commerical aspect. Only if you tax everyone who may never use it via some government fiat would it ever be built.
When I began working at Cornell Aeronautical Lab in Buffalo, NY, this was one concept being analyzed. The problem boils down to synchronizing the hardware acceleration deceleration over WHAT length? Changing from a standstill to 200 mph and (later) back to a standstill won't be remotely feasible for standees. Even seated riders would have a thrill!
"...the designers at Priestmangoode argue that existing plans for high-speed rail would involve a costly and environmentally damaging network of new train stations. They say that high-speed trains also waste energy and time by having to continually speed up and slow down to stop at stations." And building the extra infrastructure to allow trains to "mate" at 200-mph wouldn't be as "costly and environmentally damaging"? Lemme guess, this design firm is paid with tax dollars to come up with expensive and unworkable ideas. Wish I could get paid to do that.
To load a train moving at 200 mph you would need 3 miles of platform track for every 1 minute of passengers moving between the platform and train. Do you honestly see 300 people including elderly couples and families with strollers and toddlers moving between the platform and the train in under 1 minute? You would need miles of platform track to do this safely. And guess what guys? There are virtually no express rails left in the US. So retasking those for this idea is not happening. Why do you think the trains running today between Boston, NY, Chicago and a dozen other cities run hours slower than trains with steam engines did during WW II. Our brilliant government ripped up thousands of miles of track and sold it for scrap metal in the 1970s while they were busy expanding the highway system. Because of those facts you just added hundreds of millions, possibly billions, to the setup cost of the HSR system to build hundreds of miles of additional high-speed rails and the power grid for them and to build the platform trains. Your per passenger operating costs just went through the roof. For what? Gaining a few hours on a transcontinental trip? This kind of ill conceived, poorly thought out idea is why HSR in the US is a joke.
As I recall a number of lines went out on their own, others were changed to single track from double except for passing. Rails were welded into continuous (classic "can't be done") and much better control systems installed. Surely it was less expensive to rebuild and maintain one track rather than two. I don't recall the government mandated or did the tearing up, but ending of protective rates may well have had an impact, and trucking did take most single car loads. My understanding is that UPS worked up an arrangement that would have shifted much of their cross-country volume to trains, but unit trains (mostly coal) for "just-in-time" got preference.
Yor concepts look good. the Japanese video looked like a good system, too. It is El Paso one s. ("Houston, El Passo and Phoenix") The other word is complement not compliment. ("supposed to compliment them ") The word compliment is what you do your wife by saying she looks beautiful.
It would have used pods shaped like glider cockpits suspended beneath an I-beam rail system. Touch screen controls, air bags to survive a fall from the overhead rail, collision avoidance radar to prevent accidents with other pods, IP like routing to limit system congestion through smart routing, remotely managed cargo pods, automated pod management using spiral stacked holding areas for pods to manage rush hour demands, the works. It was nice for a local transit system, but it would not work on a regional or national scale. It would have to be part of a feeder system. You could commute to work or you could take a pod from home or work to the nearest regional express train station or HSR station.
I see that moving platforms might keep the journey time down for the average passenger, but I don't quite get how it's supposed to save energy or money. Accelerating and decelerating a bunch of platforms is going to be super energy intensive and costly. I would say the main short-term problem for any form of rail here in the US is the need to cross roads regularly.
That title may have applied in the 1960s when we were a lending nation. As a nation the US is $14 trillion in debt, largely to the Chinese and the Brazilians. I would say at this point they are wealthier than the US.
In case you haven't been keeping up with the news, China's high-speed train is deeply flawed and its management corrupt. It's main purpose doesn't appear to be efficient mass transportation, but mainly a PR prob to impress fawning progressives. The difference between schemes like this and what Disney does is that: A) Disney spends their own money. B) Disney quickly abandons what doesn't work. The beauty of honest science and engineering is that we're supposed to point out flaws, and the protagonists are supposed to point out why we are wrong. But now in the new "green" age, that isn't tolerated anymore. The result are limited resources wasted on unworkable boondoggles and an increasingly cynical public.
One terrorist attack could easily bring about the same security measures to trains, so not a long term argument, although it's a good justification for currently taking the train on certain routes like New York to D.C. Long haul trains in the U.S. are much more appropriate for cargo than people.
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One has to wonder why some people can see the forest, and others can only see foliage in the way. For someone who "hates idiots", have you ever considered that if you think in the paradigm all the time, you will keep what you have? Maybe those "elderly" get put in PODs, and the POD is moved up and down. Or ??? If we get superconductors that can work at 100 C, then virtually anything is possible in terms of the track. Don't poop on ideas just because your limited view has them not working. An idiot with a PhD in Chemistry...
When Congress took over passenger service in 1971 they also inherited thousands of miles of track. The story is the same nation wide, but here are a few local cases. There are dozens of hiking/biking/snowmobiling trails across much of NH, like the Rockingham Recreational Trail, that are built on the rail beds of shutdown express tracks. In most cases the feds allowed the salvage of the rails to help pay for development of the trails. Railways not directly taken over by the feds were often seized by local municipalities or illegally removed by developers. Several miles of express rail were illegally removed near the Massachusetts / NH border by developers preventing the establishment of a commuter train from Derry NH to Boston. Instead of rebuilding several miles of rail they are spending almost $1 billion to widen over 20 miles of I93. A project to restart direct rail service along the seacoast from Boston to Portland Maine has been stopped because one city illegally ripped up the express rail in town for a walking trail. That particular stretch of track was still considered active rail by the feds.
Even if the passengers were all in pods that seamlessly moved from one train to the other in under a minute the simple cost to setup and maintain this effort cannot be justified by the gains. And when will people realize that 300 mph trains will never compete with planes doing 550 mph? Even with a theoretical high-speed transfer of riders from one train to another they will never be able to compete. Trains need to compete with cars. At 100 mph an affordable to buy and maintain express train can offer much faster service than a person driving their car from Boston to DC. With a top operational speed of 80 mph the current Acela HSR runs hours behind the travel times of steam trains in the 1940s. A billion dollar 150 mph train wasted because the express rails do not exist. And no one wants to talk about the enormous amounts of energy used to move these trains at 200+ mph. The per passenger carbon footprint on HSR is insane. I also do not see how a PHD in chemistry makes you qualified to discuss HSR. I have been researching HSR for over 30 years. I have a deeper knowledge of the history of the American railroad system than most of the morons working for Amtrak. I can say for certain that the people who gloss over these facts about HSR proposals are idiots.
is all very well in principle, but when there is a flaw in an idea it is unkind to keep quiet about it. Far better to air it and let the communal brain power get to work on a solution. Only a snake oil salesman demands a positive attitude from his audience irrespective of what he is pushing.
But most of the designs shown here are jokes. Acella is a joke. The Northeast Regional, an affordable to operate conventional diesel electric train with lower fares and a higher profit margin, takes just 18 minutes longer to do the Boston to NY City run than Acela on it's best run of the day. That train is why the northeast corridor is profitable. Acela is bleeding money.
Hates Idiots, Amtrak's Northeast corridor makes a profit, but subsidizes other less profitable routes mandated by congress. Furthermore, every mode of transportation is subsidized. People who drive don't pay the full cost of their transportation and almost none of the environmental impact. Rail is very sustainable over the long term. Roads are resurfaced every five years, but track can last 20 and cost less per mile to maintain. You can't blame an underfunded system, Amtrak, for not meeting lofty expectations. I take Amtrak quite often between Washington and Boston, and up to Albany. I love the connivance. I live in Center City Philadelphia and it takes 25 minutes to walk to the train station. Here is the reality of our situation: We can't continue to burn fossil fuels like they will last forever, because they won???t. Furthermore, it is poising our air, water, and natural habitat. I like clean water, air and wildlife. The point I go from Progressive to Libertarian is my belief that everyone should pay the true cost of their actions, not push it off on others or the next generation. We need a new energy policy and trains will be a part of that policy. JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING DOESN'T WORK OPTIMALLY NOW DOESN'T MEAN IT CAN'T IN THE FUTURE. You have made many good points in your postings, but you may be limiting your self by focusing on the negative instead of the solutions that make things possible. It is easier to point out a fault than it is to put forth a solution!!!
For the massive amounts of money spent on Acela it is still slower than the steam engines that ran between those cities in the 1940s? And I am not sure how a government subsidized train can be called profitable? Remove the taxpayer subsidies that pay for track and station maintenance and lets see if it is really profitable.
They are competing with planes, and very successfully. With passenger rail stations already downtown, a short cab ride gets you to the station at your origin, and from the station at your destination. The airline passenger needs to drive or ride up to an hour (or more) to the airport, spend an hour or two in security and boarding, make the flight, disembark and wait for luggage (another hour or so), then drive or ride an hour or more to the destination. From Albany, Philadelphia, and even Washington, DC to NYC, the train is faster downtown to downtown than flying. And, because it eliminates the need to pay tolls, find parking, deal with downtown traffic, etc., it is often much more convenient than driving.