The train that does not stop

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Published: 
Friday, October 1, 2010

 

A new design for a high speed passenger train has been described by some as a brilliant Chinese innovation. It is unique in that it never stops as it journeys from one destination to the next. When the train comes to a station, it slows and the passengers are able to board or exit by making a small leap through the open doors. To avoid possible slips or trips, some designers have suggested a chute and a cushioned landing surface. Although possibly brilliant, it is hard to imagine this new form of transportation. In fact, such a train does not exist, but there are plans on the drawing board for a train that never stops.

Boarding and exiting this futuristic train will actually be done through a connector cabin that rides on the roof of the train. Passengers wait for the train inside the pod-like cabin located on the platform. As the train enters the station, the tracks dip, and the train passes beneath the connector cabin, allowing it to lock onto the roof. While the train speeds ahead, passengers descend stairs into the main compartment. The cabin then slips to the back of the train where passengers wanting to exit fill the empty roof-top cabin. At the next station, it slips smoothly off the roof and comes to a stop on the platform, while simultaneously a new cabin locks onto the front of the train. By using these connector cabins, the train never stops.

It would appear that the designer, Jianjun Chen, may have overlooked the needs of those passengers who are feeble or frail, disabled or elderly. The able-bodied, however, should enjoy the rooftop ride and have no problem with the stairs to the roof or with working their way from the front of the train to the back in order to exit. Perhaps these flaws will be addressed; nevertheless, it offers one critical advantage for those living at warp speed in the 21st century—no wasted time. The inventors explain that each stop takes approximately 5 minutes and with 30 stops between Beijing and Guangzhou, those stops would add 2 hours and 30 minutes to the travel time. Furthermore, coming to a complete stop and then accelerating to full speed over and over again uses far more energy that a train that is in constant motion. If all the kinks can be worked out, this type of train travel could make a lot of sense.

See it on You Tube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcIG2MCJwEY

Linda is responsible for the PERC web sites, media relations, the national journalism conference, and the media fellows program. She is author of Forest Fires, part of a series of  environmental education books for high school students. She also wrote and produced Square One, a newsletter that introduced grassroots environmentalists to market...
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