Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This Train Never stops

In the current train system design, the train has to accelerate/decelerate to a complete stop for every station to pick up passengers. The video above shows a very interesting concept for an alternative solution to mass commuter trains - it is a train that doesn’t stop.

Instead of stopping, it’d have a slider carriage on the top of the train. The slider carriage serves as an intermediary ‘pod’ where boarding and alighting passengers transit (before diffusing into the main train carriages). Commuters at the station wishing to board the train would enter the carriage (and presumably at some point before the train actually arrives, the doors are shut). The train seamlessly picks up this carriage, while depositing its own carriage to drop commuters wishing to alight.

Without having to stop for stations, train journeys can be drastically reduced without sacrificing passenger convenience - it is the best of both worlds! I’m definitely not an expert in locomotion engineering, but on the surface it does seem like a possible concept (hey, we’ve sent people onto the Moon!).

A small (social) concern for me might be how effective/efficient can passengers diffuse from the pod into the rest of the carriages. In a system like this, there is even more inertia to venture away from the sliding pod if you’re just hanging on for a few stops, and people are likely to gather in the few carriages nearest the pod. This could however probably be solved by having multiple sliding pods instead of the singular one as visualized in the video and If there is only one person to get down at station then its waste of energy ?.

If you can read Chinese, here’s a more detailed explanation by the inventor Chen Jian Jun. It seems like he’s been working hard trying to pitch his ideas to various agencies (including government, rail etc), but hasn’t been particularly successful.

What are your thoughts on this?