Sunday, July 9, 2017

There Needs To Be A Better Mix Of Technologies For Regional Mass Transit

This is so because the current mix of commercial airlines, and the barely functional Amtrak system, is deficient to say the least. The airlines want to keep to their most profitable, main hub and spoke routes obviously, which leaves large numbers of communities with few options that aren't either very close, or very convenient, even if some of the routes are fairly cheap (within which you must combine both the outrageous terminal security in place, with the worse than cattle car mentality of packing people into aluminum tubes, that the the airlines feel they have to do do to show a profit). And with the dominance of freight taking up most of the hard rail capacity, that leaves but few, heavy corridor routes for Amtrak to at least get close to breaking even on.

Mr. Musk wants to set up hyperloop tubes on the West Coast main corridors, but that will be at least as expensive as laying new rail rights of way, and perhaps a good deal more so, and still not offer a hell of a lot in overall flexibility as a transportation system.

Then there is my approach with hybrid dirigible blimp trains. Trains that require no track, and that could use transfer facilities a lot less complicated than existing airports; given that such lighter than air lift craft can approach and stop from much lower speeds. That and the fact that the container approach to carrying modules, would make dirigible blimp train turn around times much shorter than with conventional aircraft.

I can say that because, the way I see it, one could imagine a turnaround process where a train comes in, very slowly (to keep headway into the wind) as already stated, but instead of parking at terminal boarding ramps, the dirigible blimp trains would just connect to wheeled tie down pylons, also linked together like a string of cargo dollies. As each train segment was secured, the containers, suspended up along the centerline in each, would be lowered down onto a carriage dolly, as the entire string of dollies continued rolling along underneath the lighter than air train. One by one then, as the train units passed along the mile or so transfer runway, each train segment would unload. Once unloaded, the train as a whole would re increase speed, take back to the air, for another go around so that outgoing container modules could then be brought back up into the train, in a reversal of the previous operation. All in all, if this could be engineered correctly, the entire turnaround wouldn't take more than an hour, even for big trains.

Like with our economic operating system, it's time to start thinking outside of the usual approaches and come up with innovative alternatives for regional mass transit as well. I can't help but believe that hybrid dirigible blimp trains would be good place to start.

Summer of Hell’ Starts Monday at Penn Station, Nation’s Busiest Rail Hub