Transport Theory

High-speed rail 2.0: trains that never stop

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:

Moving Platforms from Priestmangoode on Vimeo.

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:

[via dezeenInhabitat]

Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure