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Transportation Technology

Rethinking Rail Travel: Boarding a Moving Train 357

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-skip-to-stepping-disks-please dept.
PolygamousRanchKid tips this article about an idea for revolutionizing the rail system in the long-term: "The idea is to have a city-wide network of trams that travel in a loop and connect with a high-speed rail service. But instead of passengers having to get off the tram at a rail station and wait for the next HSR service to arrive, the moving tram would 'dock' with a moving train, allowing passengers to cross between tram and train without either vehicle ever stopping. 'The trams speed up and the high-speed train slows down and they join, so they dock at high speed,' explains Priestman. 'They stay docked for the same amount of time that it would stop at a station,' he adds. While Priestman admits that it will be some time before his vision could be implemented, he says the time has come to rethink how we travel. 'This idea is a far-future thought but wouldn't it be brilliant to just re-evaluate and just re-think the whole process?' he says."
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Rethinking Rail Travel: Boarding a Moving Train

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  • Caves (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustOK (667959) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:27AM (#38165524) Journal

    and perhaps to encase cities in caves of steel

    • I would think that the time savings would even be more dramatic on a plane. plus the planes would not have to go through as amny pressure cycles. thus the long-distance planes could be built lighter, while the short haul dock ing craft built heavier.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:28AM (#38165534)

    Maybe the time has come to rethink _how much_ we travel...

    • by Bucc5062 (856482) <bucc5062@gmail.cPLANCKom minus physicist> on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:48AM (#38165766)

      See, this is a thought that should get modded up. We walk around with smartphones and tablets, our laptops carry more power then most mainframes, yet there is still this requirement that we get into a vehicle and travel some distance to sit in a cube or office and do work. Seriously?

      Granted, not all jobs are suited for telecommuted, but more and more these days we have tools to start sending people home, with jobs. The energy savings would be huge I feel. It could help local business as more people shop near home and not work. Were I able to work from home, the savings in gas and food would be worth a raise. Companies would not need to spend so much on heating/cooling large buildings. They would also be able to save money by not having to maintain large networks for inter/intra office communication. As far as productivity goes, if an office is preferred, open smaller local offices or shops where people could go to work riding a bike, walking, or other mode other then a vehicle.

      Instead of trying to re-invent how to move the drones to and from offices, lets figure a way to bring the office, the work back home.

      • God no! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:57AM (#38165862)

        lets figure a way to bring the office, the work back home.

        Home is home. Workplace is workplace.

        The problem we have with all the smart phones and tablets and wifi and the internets is that we CANNOT shut ourselves of from our daily grind.

        No thanks. I'm much happier knowing that when I leave my offices I'm done. There is no expectation that I am available to do work.

        This is just moving back to 'cubes' where instead of being in a cube in an office space, your 'cube' is your room at home. That on so many levels is horrendous.

        Why not instead of bring the work back home, all move in and live at work like.. oh I don't know.. those folks at Foxconn.

        Yeah sounds great.

        • Re:God no! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:21PM (#38166090)

          There are already solutions to this where you go to work at a generic office within waling distance of your home. You have co-workers, coffee machine or water cooler, a work-style environment with no family interruptions. There is a reception for deliveries if needed. You have the "commute" of a ten minute walk, which allows you to switch between home and work modes.

      • by Cyberax (705495)

        "Instead of trying to re-invent how to move the drones to and from offices, lets figure a way to bring the office, the work back home."

        You mean: "Instead of trying to re-invent how to move the drones to and from offices, lets figure a way to bring the office, the work to India"?

      • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:18PM (#38166060)

        Dude, I like "my" smartphone and tablet for "personal" use because that is why "I" bought them with "my" money. I like having my work and home separate and I don't want to be available 24/7 because I have no interest in being a "drone".

        You might find this hard to believe but, as a software developer, I feel that I'm much more productive now that I work in the main development office than even when I worked from a satellite office. Modern software development is a very social pursuit with standup meetings, white boarding sessions and meetings with stakeholders.

        Software is no longer written using the waterfall approach where some analyst talks to the user to get requirements, writes up a large requirements document and then the developer works off that and later hands it off to QA for testing.

        • by Capt. Skinny (969540) on Friday November 25, 2011 @02:47PM (#38167642)

          Software is no longer written using the waterfall approach...

          Speak for yourself.

          You agile folk like to claim that "requirements will always change, so let's plan for it and embrace it." Bullshit. Requirements only change when (1) people don't plan properly, and (2) developer and project managers cater to the whims of clients without charging what they should for change orders. If I hire an engineering firm to build a commercial building, I can't expect to keep changing the requirements after I sign off on the spec, the way people seem to think they can when they hire a software developer. The change order charges would be exorbitant, because with every change a traditional engineer will properly re-evaluate the plan from the ground up and adjust the infrastructure as necessary.

          There's a joke out there about what would happen if structural engineers built structures the way software developers build software. I don't remember the exact punch line, but it doesn't take much imagination to realize that it's along the lines of "no one would dare use bridges or enter commercial buildings out of fear that they would fail." It's funny because it's true. We've set such low standards for software reliability that there is now an entire development methodology that advocates (and attempts to justify) a lack of planning and QC only of completed work, rather than QC'ing design plans BEFORE we waste time building something that may or may not pass QC.

          Apologies for the rant, but the whole agile mindset just pisses me off.

      • I don't know about you, but the social interactions at my workplace are crucial to keeping me happy. You can sit at home with your high speed internet and IM system, I'd rather be able to see my co-workers face to face and occasionally through the scope of a nerf gun.

      • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:26PM (#38166150)
        There are still a lot of real hurtles until we can get to a telecommuting environment.

        1. Face time with your boss. The difference between the Office Drone and the guy who gets a raise and promoted, is the person who gets more face time with the boss. This isn't a bad thing, I don't mean sucking up to the boss, but being there where he can see what you are doing and you can show him your good job that you are doing. Bad news travels up naturally to the boss. If you have good news you need to push it there.

        2. Interaction with other workers, across your department. Normal office chat helps build up teamwork, you learn the strengths and weaknesses of different people and you have a better idea on how to make the best solution with them.

        3. Anticipate problems. If you hear something is going on you can have a solution almost done before it gets to your place to be done tomorrow.

        4. You are not slacking off as much. We all need a break to clear our mind. But when you are working from home, the comforts from home are quite compelling, especially if you are doing something you don't want to do. In the Office knowing your boss can come over and see you playing WoW or what ever game that is now hip and cool or browsing youtube for hours on end. You will make sure you temper your habits. At home it is much harder. Sure the argument is if I get my work done on time it really doesn't matter. Well it won't get you fired, but the slack off time is a period where you could really prove that you excel.

        By agreeing to be a telecommuter you have basically agreed for most companies to stay in your positions for the duration of your employment unless you are much better then most people.
      • by rickb928 (945187) on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:30PM (#38166194) Homepage Journal

        My work doesn't require 'just' interaction with systems and data. It also requires interaction with co-workers both in the physical office and in newrly every time zone on the planet. My 'customers' are no longer just in North American, but on every continent except Antarctica and Africa, and the latter is coming on board soon. I already telecommute, but I need to do so from a location where my most important collaborators are physically available, and that is the 'office'. I project my services from there.

        To be at home would deny me both ready and rich access to my team. Physical presence permits ad hoc meetings, adding in team members, quick face-to-face covnersations for minutes that avoid IMs and email chains that take much of an hour, and avoid misunderstandings. No teleconferencing works like that yet. For one thing, cameras are banned - data loss policy. We have a teleconferencing space to use, but it's for extended international or cross-continent needs.

        And I very much prefer to be part of a team, not alone. I did that for the better part of 14 years, and it's not very attractive.

        Telecommuting is so attractive in principle.

        And to answer the unasked question of telecommuting offering the equivalence of a raise, well there are things to consider. Including your employer's reasonable and justifiable perception that saving money on commuting translates into a lower pay rate, since your expenses are decreased. This will probably be expressed as either lower raises or slower raises. Compensation is often based on market forces, and if a telecommuting job is attractive to others who would take less pay for the convenience of being home (mothers seem to fit this model very well), then you are competing with people who otherwise would not be in the market. Child raisers in particular may use the calculus of a tlecommuting job permitting them to avoid expensive day care. This lets them see a discounted job as actually incremental income where an office job is income offset by expenses. Work that out and tell me you can compete. Maybe.

        Telecommuting will, one day, be seen as another advantage to Corporations, and a detriment to the worker. Watch.

        Let's not get too far into the collision of telecommuting data access (ISPs) and bandwidth. If we start streaming our favorite videos during the day to avoid the nighttime crush and gamers, watch when telecommuters start using that bandwidth all day long. And watch when ISPs filter VPNs and ask you to pay more for unfettered corporate access. I would expect them to offer corporations that deploy their workes to home a 'deal' on dedicated access. Wait, I bet they do already... SOHO accounts and such. For more money.

      • by Weezul (52464) on Friday November 25, 2011 @04:23PM (#38168606)

        I've found that living 10 min walking distance from work eliminates most advantages of telecommuting while granting all the advantages of the office. People should live in smallish but densely packed cities with few cars. And exorbitant gas prices should help keep the cars away.

        There are of course people who must commute for personal reasons, mostly couples with serious jobs in different cities. European style high speed rail serves them infinitely better than automobile gridlock. Read on the train vs. stress out in the car.

        Just fyi, there is a Bahn Card 100 for 3500 Euros per years which gives you unlimited train usage in Germany without buying any tickets. Ergo, if your commute costs like 130 Euros per week without any Bahn Card, then you might as well buy a Bahn Card 100 and enjoy the freedom of never even needing to buy a ticket! Amtrack won't sell you any ticket without requiring ID by comparison.

  • Asimov. Strips. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Space cowboy (13680) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:28AM (#38165540) Journal

    Subject says it all, really.

    Simon.

  • Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:28AM (#38165542)
    Why do we need this? Maybe it is because I am an American, and I am still waiting for high speed rail in the first place, but I am not really seeing the advantage to this system.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bacon Bits (926911) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:55AM (#38165842)

      The most annoying thing about taking the train (or a public bus or subway, for that matter) is when it stops to let other people on or off. To a passenger, that's just a huge waste of time that could be spent actually moving towards his or her destination.

      The reason continental rail travel in the US is so slow compared to auto travel is because it has to stop all the time to let people on and off. When your train weighs 50+ tons per rail car, it takes a long time to speed up and slow down. I've heard it said that the trains themselves almost never reach full speed because they have to begin decelerating before they ever reach full speed.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        The most annoying thing about taking the train (or a public bus or subway, for that matter) is when it stops to let other people on or off.

        No, the most annoying thing about taking a train is being crammed in a metal tube with people I would normally pay good money to avoid being near.

        In the UK back in the late 1800s/early 1900s I believe that trains often used to drop off carriages as they passed stations so the people going to that station would roll into it and stop while the rest of the train carried on. So it's not such a new idea.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by joocemann (1273720)

          Grow up. You've got the attitude of a bitchy spoiled brat.

        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by monkeythug (875071) on Friday November 25, 2011 @01:02PM (#38166528) Homepage

          In the UK back in the late 1800s/early 1900s I believe that trains often used to drop off carriages as they passed stations so the people going to that station would roll into it and stop while the rest of the train carried on

          This.

          Why have trams catch up to HSTs, engage in a complex procedure of transferring passengers, then needing to circle back round (potentially taking ages to get back to their 'route')

          Much better to have the trams double as carriages. When you want to get off at a destination you simply go and sit in one of the last few carriages and when the train passes the station they automatically detach and roll up to the platform. At the same time trams with new passengers leave the platform, catch up with the train and attach as replacement carriages to the end.

          • With every carriage/set having its own drive power (as our V/Locity and I'm sure many others already do) and superseding driver cabins though use of remote (including onboard remote) sensing and control functions, or even fully automatic, you can have stopping services docking at the front and dropping off the back of an always moving train system.

            This could even allow a return to the once very comfortable mode of separate cabins opening off the side of a long corridor rather than the current fashion of squ

      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:20PM (#38166086)
        That may be true of urban mass transit systems and commuter rail, but intercity rail in the United States is slow because it is still largely pulled by diesel engines and low-speed electric engines. We do not have a high speed rail infrastructure, and even the stretches of rail that can support high speed operations are bogged down by grade-level crossings, regulations, other rail traffic, and the condition of some of the rails and overhead wires.
        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

          by dwye (1127395) on Friday November 25, 2011 @01:20PM (#38166734)

          The problem is not the engines but the tracks. They are owned by firms which ship bulk cargo, and so do not need speeds greater than about 45 MPH, as compared to 120 MPH, the top speed of the pre-WWII rail network, or the even higher speeds of 1970s era high speed rail links like the Hokkaido Express. Not needing such perfect rail links, they do not maintain them to handle 100+ MPH speeds (or even 60 MPH, for that matter). Not needing the high speeds, GE, etc., build the engines to work best at the speeds actually used. If the lines needed faster engines, they would order them, and the companies which build the engines would build them to go faster efficiently (as long as there were enough engines to make money building them, or the lines were willing to pay for individually designed engines).

          Oh, and BTW, diesel train engines are actually electric trains with a co-located generator powered by a diesel engine, AKA hybrids. They aren't the poorly built and designed things that you apparently think that they are.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by joocemann (1273720)

        That is poor rail network flaw, not szome absolute barrier. If you've ever used european mass transit, you know th system can be designed well. You get on a bus for the ride to yojr local station, which connects to larger stations... there are multiple paths, fast trains that only top at major cities, and slower trains that split off and stop at each, or every other town. The efficiency is awesome, and you can beat a car easily.

    • Well High speed rail won't work in the US like it does in Europe.
      Population density is the problem. The Subways work great in large cities. But once you leave some people will need to drive 20-30 miles just to get to the nearest station, and if the place you want to go is 100 miles away you figure well I am partially there already so I will keep on going in my car. Vs. waiting hours to be picked up take a train where it needs to stop every 30 miles. And sometimes you need to go from one train to an other.
      • It's much, much worse than this in the US. If you'd like to try it yourself, the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority has a nifty trip planner [wmata.com] that allows you to determine exactly how time-inefficient public transportation is in the capitol of the US. If you'd like the Executive Summary, I have included a sample trip from the Germantown MD transit center to Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt MD. This represents a pretty typical commute for a DC suburbanite.*

        - Bus Departs from GERMANTOWN TRANSI
  • by A10Mechanic (1056868) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:29AM (#38165556)
    Yeah, I saw this on that movie, with the bus. Taking passengers out the door, at 55 MPH. I think it was called, "The bus that couldn't slow down".
  • Already foreseen? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by greichert (464285) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:30AM (#38165566)
    I've seen some time ago another concept for the same, apparently in China. Here is the link to a video explaining how it would work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snFmLkOmkjE [youtube.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sorry, I think the Russians published this stop-less train station concept. Instead of a stretch of linear tracks they used concentric tracks. The HSR arrives at the station on the outer rail and docks with the slower moving inner rail. The HSR transfers the passengers and the inner rail then transfers passengers to the second inner rail slowing down slightly and then speeds up again to wait for the next HSR.

      Well too bad most of the world including Russians never read Russian "Propaganda" from books like sc

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DfDOlUXEBo [youtube.com]

    those British guys need to learn to infringe on other people's intellectual property

    • by idji (984038)
      The British idea is terrifying. What if you are too slow or someone puts their foot into the gap, or if there is a stone or wobble on the neighbouring track? The Chinese idea is much nicer.
      • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:43AM (#38165704) Homepage

        What if you are too slow or someone puts their foot into the gap, or if there is a stone or wobble on the neighbouring track?

        Oh you Americans ... always letting liability lawsuits stand in the way of progress!

        • by idji (984038)
          LOL, I am not an American, and I am not in the way of progress, and I don't care about lawsuits. I like the Chinese idea, and it is progressively better than the British idea. I just don't like the idea of walking from one speeding train to another speeding train that is on a DIFFERENT track. The Chinese idea is simpler, safer, more flexible (easy to add many stations) and uses far less real estate.
  • Ummm ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:34AM (#38165598) Homepage

    So, when we have our city with flying cars, domestic robots and all of the other commensurate sci-fi amenities which will never happen, we will also have a train we board at speed.

    I'm sure in some abstract, never-going-to-happen way this is a really cool idea.

    But it's so far detached from anything which will ever happen as to basically be a meaningless suggestion. These fantastic cities of the future will never actually happen unless we suddenly have unlimited cheap energy or resources ... the cost of rebuilding any major city would be absolutely ridiculous.

    Harumph ... I must be getting old. Time was I'd think this was something cool. Now it's just another pointless futurist thought experiment.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      Exactly, I hold more hope for automated driving cabs and buses. They can use the existing infrastructure without interfering with the existing ways of travel. It will be personal chauffeurs for everyone.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        Exactly, I hold more hope for automated driving cabs and buses. They can use the existing infrastructure without interfering with the existing ways of travel. It will be personal chauffeurs for everyone.

        You could use the same principle. Cabs dock with 250mph "super coaches" for inter-city travel. Manual driving on high speed routes forbidden obviously.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        It will be personal chauffeurs for everyone.

        Except, an automated bus is going to be the same riding experience as a current bus ... crowded, takes too long to get there, and still full of creepy weird bus people.

        To a hypothetical bus rider ... what, exactly, does an automated driver bring to the table? Hardly a "personal chauffeur" and no meaningful change to the experience.

        • by ArsonSmith (13997)

          Well, other than machine reliability, and 24x7x365 buss routs as needed or even on demand busing.

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Well, other than machine reliability, and 24x7x365 buss routs as needed or even on demand busing.

            Maybe. But, you still need to pay for fuel, maintenance, and the gadgetry which does that in the first place .. and I'm not convinced the gadgetry wouldn't end up costing more than human labor anyway.

            It is a cool idea, but it's hard to see it as anything but a sci-fi pipe-dream which will never actually come to fruition. I'd happily eat crow over my cynicism if this ever comes to pass.

            Prove me wrong kids ... p

    • These fantastic cities of the future will never actually happen unless we suddenly have unlimited cheap energy or resources ... the cost of rebuilding any major city would be absolutely ridiculous.

      Oh, you never simply rebuild a whole city. The only time you do anything like that is when the city has been completely obliterated by war or natural disaster.

      So the only way we will get a future city is:
      a) War or disaster destroys the city;
      b) All the old buildings are individually replaced over time;
      c) Some crazy person decides to build a new instant city (e.g., Brasilia, Dubai).

    • are the ones that made progress (as in "Progressive") a dirty word. You know, there was a time when a rocket in orbit was a pointless futurist thought experiment. The reason you can post online is because of the satellites those rockets deployed...
  • If we could get trams not to stop because of traffic that would be very good already.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:37AM (#38165628)

    Okay, so the obvious first question is - how do you get on the trams? Do they stop? Unfortunately the article is a hand-waving fluff piece and doesn't explicitly answer that (or, really, any other) question; but it strongly implies "yes, they do stop". So what's the real advantage to the traveler here?

    It seems to me the main thing this guy is proposing is actually a transit system with connections on every street, so you don't have to own a car at all. But that's nothing new and exciting, so he had to "jazz it up" to get attention - and that's where the "high-speed trains that never stop" idea comes in. But, really, that's not going to save a traveler any time. Plus, frankly, as soon as I started thinking about the potential details of this system... I quickly came to the conclusion it would seem logistically sub-optimal.

    • by digitrev (989335)
      The real advantage to the traveler is, in theory, saving on wait time. As it is now, the process is "tram-transfer station-train-transfer station-tram". With this system in place, the process would be "tram-train-tram". Thus, in theory, saving the time of having to wait at the transfer station. Unfortunately, I suspect that this would introduce a number of inefficiencies that would wind up either being more expensive, or not saving any time. For example, having the trams connect to the train would save time
      • The real advantage to the traveler is, in theory, saving on wait time. As it is now, the process is "tram-transfer station-train-transfer station-tram". With this system in place, the process would be "tram-train-tram". Thus, in theory, saving the time of having to wait at the transfer station.

        The only way that would happen is if every tram that hit every street met the train, which simply wouldn't work.

    • by slim (1652)

      Okay, so the obvious first question is - how do you get on the trams? Do they stop?

      Here's how a typical journey might work without his plan:
      - You get on a slow local service
      - It has, say, 7 stops on your route, which is what makes it slow.
      - You get to the high speed station and disembark
      - You walk to another platform
      - You board the high speed train
      - Two possibilities here:
      - (a) the high speed train goes direct to your destination without stops, which is great for you, but not as generally useful to others

    • I can see smaller catch up trains for this. They stop at the stations and speed up and catch the train and then stop at the next station. to fill up again.
  • Exit the train (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jamesl (106902) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:38AM (#38165634)

    Disney has been doing this for decades. The ride slows, the passenger steps onto a moving belt and from there onto the platform. It requires one or more attendants available to help and occasionally hit the emergency stop when the slow and/or unwary find themselves rushing toward the dark chasm at the end of the platform.

    Now if they would just install parachutes and ejection seats in airliners ...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can imagine a scenario where one of the trains is packed, users try to squeeze in from one train into another. One person (or more..) does not fit in, there is no more track for the trains to be coupled, they HAVE to split even if the doors are held open by the passengers, and people up on the track between the wheels of both trains.

    • by GrpA (691294)

      Exactly what I was thinking... Strange how such a flawed concept can gain ground so easily without anyone mentioning the 500lb gorilla... :(

      GrpA

    • by Cyberax (705495)

      First, you can design docking port to be safe in this case.

      Second, trains can _stop_. It's easy - you ALWAYS leave some part of parallel track for emergency braking and if trains reach it with doors open then brakes are applied automatically. You can make the emergency strip long enough for gentle braking.

    • by slim (1652)

      You'd simply have to not allow these trains to get packed. Rigidly enforce maximum occupancy; problem solved.

  • by bityz (2011656) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:42AM (#38165692)
    Subject says it all (again) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Roads_Must_Roll [wikipedia.org]
  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:44AM (#38165716)

    This is nothing new. Disney has been doing this for decades. In fact, the rest of the world could take a lesson or two from Disney's playbook. Notice that Disney designs its rides such that the line (queue) is constantly in motion. By contrast, Six Flags and other theme parks, you have to wait while the people on the ride are off. We should take this a step further and design aircraft with a removable passenger compartment akin to the 747 air freighter. The nose would open up and the incoming passenger module would slide out to be replaced by another outgoing module. This has the advantage of eliminating the one door bottleneck.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:34PM (#38166244) Homepage

      This is nothing new. Disney has been doing this for decades. In fact, the rest of the world could take a lesson or two from Disney's playbook. Notice that Disney designs its rides such that the line (queue) is constantly in motion. By contrast, Six Flags and other theme parks, you have to wait while the people on the ride are off. We should take this a step further and design aircraft with a removable passenger compartment akin to the 747 air freighter. The nose would open up and the incoming passenger module would slide out to be replaced by another outgoing module. This has the advantage of eliminating the one door bottleneck.

      Just use the standard pallets that they use in air freighters. You could probably stack 15 -20 people in a container. Just lock'em in. No worries about feeding them, dealing with the bathroom or various security issues.

      Have you thought about a career at RyanAir?

  • by HappyHead (11389) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:44AM (#38165720)

    Have you ever been at the station when there was a really slow moving old lady at the front of the line, trying to get into the train, but moving at a snail's pace, holding up the whole line, and then still being in the doorway when it starts trying to close? Remember the loud buzzer that sounds to signal people to get out of the doors, that she's too deaf to hear, and ignores as she slowly continues toddling her way into the car, holding up the train, and still nobody else has managed to even get in?

    I've been behind her several times. It's weird, almost every time I go to Toronto (the nearest place I've had to ride the subway), she's there in line in front of me. She's a really nice lady, but oh so very slow moving, and she won't accept help.

    This proposed system would ensure that I would only ever be behind her once, because when the high-speed train and moving tram were not able to un-dock because she was still toddling along in the gap between them, they would either end up crashing and killing everyone, or they would separate anyways and either tear her in half, or drop her between the tracks and grind her into paste on the ground.

  • The advantage of the current systems is its safety. If someone is stuck in the door, the doors will not close, and the train will not take off. If someone is stuck in the doorway in Priestman's idea, the poor sap will be hung out to dry when the tracks diverge. I suppose the tracks could be close enough to dock for a long enough time that if the doors aren't closed at the end of the boarding window, the trains could come to a complete stop. But that sounds like a lot of extra room, and hence, extra cost
  • Exactly what problem is this supposed to solve? It reminds me of the scene in Robots (2005 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0AsgfVIOeQ [youtube.com]) where they travel around the big city on a collection of various "rube goldberg" contraptions that seemingly never stop moving...

  • In Rio de Janeiro, when I lived there, if you looked at all agile the bus would not completely stop to let you on. It would slow down to a walking pace so you could grab the handle next to the door and let the momentum of the train swing you aboard. Since you boarded at the rear door and exited at the front door you never go in the way of disembarking passengers; who also often exited while the bus was moving.

    It was great sport and probably saved a lot of fuel. Not sure I'd like to do it at my age now (68) but I might just for old times' sake. LOL

  • As well as the obvious "what if someone takes to long to switch and is between trains when they split" (which could be solved by some form of automatic emergency stop, though that could jam up the whole system for a short while as other trains and trams are backed up by the delay), there is the more simple problem of the long straigh track needed. Even if slowing to 30mph (given they mention the tram speeding up, I assume the connection won't be any slower than this) you need a mile for as two-minute change
  • Assume that you make the transfer at 120 km/hr, that means that if you want to have a 5 minute dwell time, you need 10 km of track to make the transfer. You'll need more track for a buffer to slow down in case there's mechanical difficulty or a passenger problem and you need to bring the trains to a halt.

    Now, a "tram" is typically a one or maybe two car light rail vehicle. Your HSR trains are typically 10 cars. Are you only loading onto 2 cars at a time? That's workable in rural areas but how do you han

  • Some of the rides at Disneyland have started taking advantage of this idea by moving the passengers along on a moving beltway (kind of like at the airport) next to the ride... So you board the ride without the ride having to slow down at all... e.g. the Buzz Lightyear ride does this and I recall that it worked pretty well.

  • It would be a lot simpler to just have all the passengers watch old Buster Keaton movies to teach them how to jump onto a moving train with no special equipment required.

  • Many posters have spotted that this post is a rehash, a troll or perhaps a straight faced sendup joke from a design firm.

    The graphic art accompanying the original article might have been copied from a 1930's art deco transportation fantasy science fiction book cover.

    But here is a really good question: What client paid this design firm to develop this specific presentation? How much do design firms charge per hour? $100 at least?

    From the name of the design firm, I guess this is a two person design firm, and

  • by hackertourist (2202674) <<ln.tensmx> <ta> <tsiruotrekcah>> on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:38PM (#38166294)

    You'd need a significant length of straight track to accomplish the transfer. In corners, the different corner radii mean that you'd need to increase the distance between the train cars on the outside of the bend to make sure the cars stay lined up.

    It'd be much simpler to link up the trains front-to-back. The Dutch ICM [wikipedia.org] shows a practical design to do this. The ICM is only linked at standstill, but a few tweaks to the coupling (and possibly the doors) would allow it to be linked while moving. The mechanical link also makes it easy to ensure the trains keep matching speeds (just drive the rear train at a slightly higher power level than the front).
    The drawback of this design is that there's only one connection point so the transfer is much slower.

  • One very simple solution to a LOT of the problems in Holland is to cut the train journeys up. Right now you got a service that runs from Heerlen to Den Helder and Nijmegen to Alkmaar. For those to whom this means nothing? It is the line you are on between Amsterdam and Utrecht, a VERY busy section of track WITH a HUGE bottle neck because it is 2 tracks only in Amsterdam, the capitol. So if a train gets stuck at Amstel (small station in Amsterdam) everything is stuck.

    Heerlen is about as far south as you can

  • This is a stupid idea because people are morons. I mean have you ever seen people try to get on the subway in Boston? The rush and try to get off or on even as the doors are closing. I'm surprised more people don't get stuck in the doors because of that. Anyway at least if you get stuck halfway in the door they can keep the train stopped until they get the idiot free. However if both trains are going down the tracks who knows how long they can stay connected while they try to get idiots out of the door.)
  • by dbc (135354) on Friday November 25, 2011 @02:02PM (#38167114)

    The inconvenient truth is that mass transit must be sized for peak loads, and therefore runs no where near capacity most of the time. A train, tram, or bus fully loaded is very energy efficient. A train, tram, or bus lightly loaded uses way more energy per passenger-mile than a car. No transit authority remakes trains between rush hour and mid-day, nor do they have two fleets of buses so that they can switch from long articulateds at rush hour to mini-vans during mid day. Mass transit wastes huge amounts of energy, and we can't afford it any more.

    The answer is self-driving cars. We already have door-to-door infrastructure for cars. With self-driving cars road capacity increases because the cars can run closer together and at higher or at least more consistent speeds. A self-driving car is a self-valet-parking vehicle, so parking lots and structures can be moved further from office buildings.

    People working on any kind of mass transit solution that involves large vehicles like trains are exactly the fools that are wasting our fossil fuels the fastest. Show me solutions that scale up/down with the daily load fluctuation, and you have my interest.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday November 25, 2011 @02:47PM (#38167644) Homepage

    As others have pointed out, this isn't a very good idea for high speed rail. It's not original [youtube.com], either. It was proposed in Taiwan a few years ago, and that design is more workable.

    It's been used a few times for very low speed systems in amusement parks. The original, of course, was the moving sidewalk at the 190 Paris Exposition. [youtube.com] That had two speeds of moving walkway side by side, to allow getting on and off. The mechanism was not a conveyor belt. It was an endless train of railroad flatcars with turntables between them. Also see the Never Stop Railway [britishpathe.com], in 1925, which is a cute mechanical solution to slowing down at stations.

    Some railroads have used systems where cars were dropped off the rear of a train while the train was in motion. This never worked all that well, and there was no reverse operation to assemble the train on the fly. It's been suggested for transit systems where all cars have power, and it could be made to work.

  • by mbstone (457308) on Friday November 25, 2011 @08:22PM (#38171122)

    I would like to have an office on a train such that I have a workspace and internet connection and a window. I don't care if the train takes a long time to get to the destination, or if there is a destination. I envision trains for devs that are full of compartments for this purpose. Maybe an entire development team on a private railroad car.

    As an example consider the proposals for high speed trains, say, between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The most recent Amtrak passenger service on the route was criticized because, due to noncooperation by the freight railroads, the trip would take eight hours. But that was before the internet. Internet access, if available, changes the nature of train trips for people who can telecommute. An eight-hour train trip, or even a ten-hour trip, with a comfortable workspace and internet access is uptime, as opposed to a five-hour drive.

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