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Rethinking Rail Travel: Boarding a Moving Train

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the just-skip-to-stepping-disks-please dept.

Transportation 357

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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Caves (5, Insightful)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165524)

and perhaps to encase cities in caves of steel

docking planes (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165694)

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.

Re:docking planes using PowerPC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165838)

IBM's smarter planet initiative is installing PowerPC sensors throughout Americas infrastructure, and the data is sifted in real-time using IBM's POWER7. Big Brother is Watching You.

Re:docking planes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165994)

Popular science did an article on this ages ago (70's? 80's?); the concept was a giant airplane that flew a constant route, never landing, smaller planes would ferry passengers up and down.

Re:Caves (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165908)

Yeah, but with the doors between the trains you couldn't hop from one to another to slow down or speed up.

Re:Caves (1)

mcneely.mike (927221) | more than 2 years ago | (#38166002)

and have robot detectives named, say, oh.... ummm... R. Daneel Olivaw?

Is the real problem here? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165534)

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

Re:Is the real problem here? (5, Interesting)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 2 years ago | (#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! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165890)

Perhaps what we should do is move to a system where we have generic offices all around, and you just go to your nearest generic office, sign a lease for 6 months (or whatever) and get to use that space to telecommute to your job.

Re:God no! (5, Interesting)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Is the real problem here? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165864)

"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"?

Re:Is the real problem here? (5, Insightful)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Is the real problem here? (0)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 2 years ago | (#38166098)

In my experience, telecommuters don't get much real work done.

Re:Is the real problem here? (2)

Nationless (2123580) | more than 2 years ago | (#38166118)

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.

Re:Is the real problem here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165866)

shut up bitch, i need my travel bonus and expenses!!!

How do you get on? (1)

David89 (2022710) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165536)

If you need to be on a train to get on another train..

Re:How do you get on? (2)

digitrev (989335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165748)

If I understand this correctly, the 'slow' trains work like a sort of express bus system (or, to be more precise, a streetcar system). They do a slow milk run in the neighbourhood, picking people up. Then, after leaving the slow area, it speeds up to dock with the train, where you transfer over. It's kind of complicated, but I could see it working. So here would be your travel day. Wake up, catch the slow train at the corner, then after a short while, transfer over to the train. Then, when the slow train for your destination docks, transfer to that one. Get off at the stop for work, and walk the rest of the way. The idea here is to cut out the middleman. Instead of having to wait at another bus (train) station for the next high speed train to arrive, you simply transfer directly to the train.

There are, admittedly, a few problems. First off, this would only save time for people who have to regularly make the sort of 'bus-train-bus' connection. Secondly, this doesn't seem very error-proof. If people can't make the transfer fast enough, then you end up being stuck on the slow train until you can make another pass at the next one. Thirdly, you'd need quite a large section to make sure you have enough time to make the transfers.

That being said, this is definitely an interesting idea. I'd like to see someone work all the kinks out, though.

Re:How do you get on? (3, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165776)

It is the last point that gets me. one would need a couple of miles of track next to each to be moving fast enough to make it worth while, however that eats up space, and the slow train would have to circle back around for the next train in sequence.

Also how do you do multi train platforms?

to me it seems like someone didn't think the idea through all the way.

Re:How do you get on? (3, Interesting)

beltsbear (2489652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165826)

I agree. It could not work for anything practical. Just imagine someone getting caught between the doors while they were open when the trains HAD to separate due to lack of parallel track. I can think of how many times the DC metro tries to close the doors, but then fails and re-opens them. This happening at speed with an 'enforced time limit' can not work.

Re:How do you get on? (1)

digitrev (989335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165836)

To be fair, I suspect that both you and I live in North America. This system is intended for Europe, which, to my understanding, has the kind of space required for the transfer time at high speeds.

Re:How do you get on? (2)

solidraven (1633185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165988)

I'm not sure where you got the idea that we have the space for such things. Most of our train stations are in cities. Most railways go through cities as well. You can't just knock over some buildings to add a bunch of rails. It took them years to buy up enough land to double the amount of tracks on a 50km trajectory over here. Not to mention that these trains really don't need that much distance to speed up to 140km/h (or faster). This money would be better invested in energy recuperation systems.

Re:How do you get on? (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 2 years ago | (#38166004)

reley European cities are rather crowded - this is a cloud cookoo land fantasy

Re:How do you get on? (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165898)

Not just speed of transfer, but synchronisation. If either train is early/late by more than a few minutes it'll either leave all the passengers stranded or require one of the trains to wait, which destroys the advantage of the system and potentially causes knock-on delays further down the line.

Re:How do you get on? (1)

digitrev (989335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165982)

Yeah, the system doesn't seem very robust. That being said, I'm sure a good civil engineer could find some way to make it work.

Re:How do you get on? (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165944)

I think the intention is that I could leave my house. Walk to the local 'tram' stop, be transferred onto a train from there and then back onto a tram when it reaches my destination city which then drops me off at the tram stop nearest my destination. Would be a great experience, although retrofitting it into current cities would be 'interesting'...

Asimov. Strips. (2, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165540)

Subject says it all, really.

Simon.

Re:Asimov. Strips. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165578)

Heinlein. Roads.

Re:Asimov. Strips. (1)

Thyrsus (13292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165966)

Which answers the question: what could possibly go wrong?

Re:Asimov. Strips. (5, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165636)

If you mean Rule 34...no thanks.

Re:Asimov. Strips. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165684)

Subject says it all, assuming you already knew what you were talking about, and if you assume that, why bother saying it?

Come on, Simon, elucidate!

Re:Asimov. Strips. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165912)

It says you didn't read the first post before posting, what else does it say?

Why? (3, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#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? (4, Interesting)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Why? (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38166024)

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:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38166044)

Weird. Most parts of western Europe are at more as densely populated as the eastern states of the USA and yet the intercity trains over there are vastly more efficient and convenient. I think the problem is completely one of public commitment to public transportation. In Europe and many parts of Asia, public sector investment in rail is much higher than in the USA, and as a result the service is vastly better. Amtrak is a joke, even the "high speed" Acela service. On the Boston to NYC to DC corridor the trains can't reach full speed mainly because the -routes- are antiquated. High speed rail needs long, straight routes and the routes on the east coast are far too twisty. An entirely new east coast rail corridor needs to be built and there is zero political will to accomplish this.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Is Sandra Bullock Driving? (5, Funny)

A10Mechanic (1056868) | more than 2 years ago | (#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".

Re:Is Sandra Bullock Driving? (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165614)

SHOOT THE HOSTAGE!

Some just needs to loop the camera feeds (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165618)

Some just needs to loop the camera feeds

Already foreseen? (5, Interesting)

greichert (464285) | more than 2 years ago | (#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]

China has been thining about this for a while (1)

acidfast7 (551610) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165584)

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

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

Re:China has been thining about this for a while (1)

idji (984038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165664)

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.

Re:China has been thining about this for a while (4, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165704)

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!

Re:China has been thining about this for a while (2)

idji (984038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165768)

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 ... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165598)

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.

Re:Ummm ... (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165662)

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.

Re:Ummm ... (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165792)

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.

Re:Ummm ... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165798)

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.

Re:Ummm ... (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165904)

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

Re:Ummm ... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165974)

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 ... prove me wrong. ;-)

Re:Ummm ... (2)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165928)

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).

Trams would still need to stop (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165622)

If we could get trams not to stop because of traffic that would be very good already.

Had to read the article (3, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Had to read the article (1)

PointyShinyBurning (1174001) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165804)

While you don't save any time on your boarding and disembarking (assuming the moving platforms accelerate no faster than the full-size train would have and share a similarl track layout etc etc.), you do, fairly obviously, save time in total because the long distance train makes no intermediate stops.

Re:Had to read the article (1)

digitrev (989335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165808)

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 waiting for the next transfer, but would bring the tram much further away from its original starting point. Unless you planned it incredibly well, that could end up costing more simply moving empty trams to the next destination. The other problem is this system seems to rely quite heavily on strict timing. I could easily see that a single tram being late would mess up the next few hours, whereas a bus system is much more robust.

Re:Had to read the article (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165858)

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.

Exit the train (4, Interesting)

jamesl (106902) | more than 2 years ago | (#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 ...

I can imagine a scenario... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165654)

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.

Re:I can imagine a scenario... (1)

GrpA (691294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165724)

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

GrpA

Re:I can imagine a scenario... (2)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165920)

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.

even better (1)

callmebill (1917294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165680)

When I ride the T or commuter rail, the bottleneck is at the doors to get in the cars. One small door on either end of the car, with people competing to get on and to get off. *My* brilliant idea is to have the entire side wall of the car roll up like a garage door so that people can board and detrain en masse. The problem is with the placement of the seats.

Benefits compared to PRT? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165686)

How does this compare to personal rail transport networks? Not favorable I think. This systems still has all the downsides of standard mass transit solutions, which means that you have to go to the stop, travel with other and get your travel interrupted by switching. The benefit is only faster switching, and the system is complex, requires large infrastructure and is far from commercialization.

PRT:s are expected to hook up in trains to for long-distance travel at high speed.

What happens when the tracks diverge? (1)

lcampagn (842601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165690)

At a station, the train can be delayed if passengers are blocking the door. When you're travelling at speed and the slow/fast tracks are about to diverge, you have no choice but to separate the trains and dump those slow passengers between the tracks. At least it would be more efficient.

Ship transfers? (1)

kooky45 (785515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165706)

I suppose a model for this is how passengers or crew are moved to and from large ships during travel since they can't easily slow down or change direction. How's that done at the moment?

Re:Ship transfers? (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165810)

For the most part, by damn well waiting until the ship is docked. You can use a launch -- that's how harbor pilots board a ship -- but the ship still has to be at a near-stop in relatively protected water.

In emergencies, you use a helicopter at great expense and more than a little hazard.

The Culture wins again (0)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165712)

Eagerly awaiting the arrival of the nearest GSV,

WEDWay People Mover (3, Insightful)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

And the problem with this plan: (5, Insightful)

HappyHead (11389) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:And the problem with this plan: (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165980)

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.

Brilliant. This solves so many problems (except for the problem of why is this even proposed in the first place.)

Re:And the problem with this plan: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165986)

Your problem would be solved then right? Evolution at work.

That is what I thought about to. When the buzzer sounds that they are closing the doors, on a high speed train that is moving, they mean it.

old news is old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165728)

this is an old idea, i heard about it 3 years ago, it was a project in japan

Stop these long distance commutes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165754)

Just live near where you work, use the telephone and the internet.

Dumbest-idea-of-the-week Award (0, Flamebait)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165758)

1. You're going to need a lot of extra right-of-way for your low-2-high-speed train to loop back - unless you then bring it to a complete stop, and backtrack - covering 4x the distance (2x each way), and needed to accelerate twice instead of once, so 2x the energy, and the people are delayed by 4x to get off at the destination of the slow-speed train, more than eliminating any time saved in getting on.

2. If you make the stops too close together, you might as well just connect them directly with the train that actually stops.

3. If you make them far apart enough for this to be practical, then each slow-speed train has to carry a lot more people - making it in effect another high-speed train that might as well just stop, because it's a lot cheaper to buy 1 and maintain 1 high-speed train than it is 5 or 6 to service the same route.

4. The high-speed train has to stop for maintenance and cleaning anyway (or is it just going to keep getting dirtier and dirtier as time goes on until it becomes a moving trash heap)?

The safety issue (2)

Zibodiz (2160038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165774)

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.

The Roads Must Roll... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165786)

See Robert heinlein's "The Roads Must Roll"

Reminds me of Heinlein's Rolling Roads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165806)

Basically think of one of those people mover conveyer belts, like you might see at a large airport, which run at maybe 3mph.
Now put another one next to that at 6mph, and another one next to that at 9mph, and another one at 12, and so on until you get up to interstate speeds or better.

Loadable Passenger Attachments (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165814)

I see many problems with boarding a moving train from a moving platform, compared to boarding stationary train from stationary platform. Think of all the edge cases that could get people killed. People who fall down and can't get up for whatever reason. Or just someone causing trouble.

Safe and better might be having passengers board a compartment that then accelerates to join the larger heavier moving train. Passengers would transfer from the lightweight capsule to the train, and others would leave the train onto the capsule. The capsule would accelerate to a stop at the next station, while the train continued.

What about people that get's stuck in the door? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165816)

Will they just rip apart, when the train and the tram goes in different direction? I assume that neither will have the time to stop...

It will never happen (1)

alphabet26 (534873) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165832)

You always have some yahoo holding open the door for his slow walking friend. What's the train going to do when the moving platform comes to the end of the line? Cut his arm off?

Re:It will never happen (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165934)

Stop both trains, find that yahoo, put him on the track before one train and his friend on the track before the second train. Then start both trains again.

There, problem solved.

Exactly what problem... (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165852)

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...

Yes brand new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165872)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9Ig19gYP9o

They've done it (sort of) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165880)

The idea of loading things onto a moving train is not new. They used to hook mail bags onto moving trains.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_post_office [wikipedia.org]

Re:They've done it (sort of) (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38166038)

Hanging off a metal bar and being picked up in a net would be way cooler than a tram. You could probably charge extra for the 'Xtreme'-ness.

disaster (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165884)

This is not a good idea at all. This increases the complexity of an already complicated enough system, and the ways in which catastrophic failures will happen (and they will happen).

Anybody probably could come up with a hundred ways things could go wrong without ever even seeing a system like that in action. Also what the hell is the gain here?

The buses in Brasil already do this.... (4, Interesting)

SwedishChef (69313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165896)

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

Perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165900)

The person who's proposed this has obviously never tried to get onto a Tube [anewdayanewdawn.co.uk] or Japanese commuter train [asianoffbeat.com] during rush hour.

The problem with rail is ... (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165902)

Populations tend to move, making a FIXED rail system redundant or useless in a few years, then the rail needs to be re-routed at huge cost. New right-of-ways need to be aquired etc. A Bus line is smarter EVERY TIME! Anyone who believes different is an idiot. End of story.

How long a straight would this need? (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165914)

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 over plus the distance they'll travel while syncing speed and making the connection plus some safety margin at each end. That is at least 3 miles of uninterrupted perfectly parallel tracks. OK so 3 straight miles are very easy to find on a high-speed line outside urban areas, but that means the tram has to travel that far to get to the meeting ponit which will use more power and therefor fuel. I suspect the time savings to be minimal anyway, especially once you account for delaysd due to regular emergency stops, and I doubt there will be much by way of energy savings (OK so you are not stopping and starting the HST woudl will save a chunk, tbut the trams will probably end up eating what you save there by having to travel the distance to the meetup zone). The trams as a way to travel to and from the interchange are not a bad idea, and already implemented in some placdes, but I can't say the high-speed docking thing is anything other than lunacy.

Already invented (2)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165926)

What is wrong with these guys??? Why they don't give credit to the one that actually depicted such a system? Anyone? Isaac Asimov? You know him, ain't you?

Much easier solution (1)

sveinb (305718) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165948)

You just split off the hindmost car at each station. Or for those who enjoy spoon-feeding: Say you have a train line with 8 stations, call them station 0..7. Typically, station 0 and 7 are big cities, station 1..6 are small ones. Start the train at station 0 with 6 cars, call them 1..6, where 6 is at the front of the train, 1 at the back. If you're going to station no. n, get into car no. n. If you're going to station 7, get into any car. Car no. n gets split off from the rest of the train at station no. n. The split-off cars continue their journey after their stop and join up with previously split-off cars from the same train once they regain cruise speed. At station 7, the whole train stops.

Advantage: All stations 1..6 get connected nonstop to cities 0 and 7, while passengers going from 0 to 7 only need to stop once. Of course, this requires each car to be motorized and automatically controlled. Also, it only works if you're going from station 0 to n or from station n to 7, not from n to m. Additionally, the idea is surely not original so feel free to google that for me.

yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165956)

this is a nice idea, especially since it would ensure the continuity of the final destination series

Holding the doors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165962)

Stop holding the doors open.. No seriously stop holding the doors open. No, really... If you don't stop holding the doors you will be flung out into space because these trains are only next to each other for another few seconds..

aarghhhhhhhhhhh!!

oh.. never mind... problem solved...

Not fully baked (1)

putaro (235078) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165970)

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 handle the big cities? Or do you try to form the LRVs into a longer train to load up. Any LRVs that miss the schedule will really screw things up.

This sounds neat but it's not really practical.

Re:Not fully baked (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38166094)

If I remember correctly, the rolling truck stops in 'Judge Dredd' would pick your car/truck up with a crane when you wanted to 'stop' to use their facilities and then put it back down on the road when you were done.

So that's another option. It would be much cooler too.

Disneyland already does this (in a small way)... (1)

patniemeyer (444913) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165976)

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.

Sounds familiar.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165996)

This looks like a copy of an idea from more than a year ago of a train that doesn't stop: http://www.neatorama.com/2010/04/22/non-stop-bullet-train-concept/

Old video: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38166078)

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

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