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Well-Known Member
Having had some experience managing railroad networks and working on automating the dispatching of a rail network, all I can say is there is a HUGE difference in running a couple cars around a figure 8 loop and operating a national network. Scaling up creates exponentially more difficult planning and control challenges.


New Member
Agreed. It is an exciting time to be alive with neural nets, machine learning, advanced communications and artificial intelligence. Just wish I wasn't so darned old.


New Member
See and especially
Reynolds describes a "dualmode" system that uses a guideway that services private vehicles as well as commercial and mass transit. The guideway he describes uses passive magnetic levitation and synchronous linear motors for the vehicles. The vehicles would retain wheels for use off the guideway. While on the guideway all vehicles would have exactly the same velocity so no collisions. The system would have no emissions and would be nearly silent in operation. It would replace freeways on their existing right of way. Intercity travel would be done at very much higher speeds than freeway or rail today.



New Member
Thanks, George and Oliver. I am a EE with 54 years of experience. (Spelled "old' and maybe "senile") I love the idea of maglev but worry about the ohmic loss of the coils. And the cost of track with all that copper in there. In remote locations robbers will come out at night to take the copper. If someone could invent room temperature superconductors (with no street value), we would be in business.
I love dual mode. Nobody wants to walk the last mile home in the rain.
We have that now and call it Hi-Rail. I have some concerns about present Hi-Rail technology:
1. You have to stop the truck and get out to get on a rail, usually at a road crossing. Dangerous.
2. Vehicles must conform to all road vehicle safety standards, even if they don't apply.
3. But still the heavy trucks get great MPG on the rails due to low rolling resistance. Mostly they are used for rail maintenance, not general transport.
4. The Hi-Rail system is like a dog walking on his hind legs. It can be done, but is not pretty. But that can be changed.
And that 2 ton rail maintenance vehicle can tow 2-3 buses on the rail with dozens of passengers.
Here is a cool dual mode Australian system without the efficiency of low rail rolling resistance:
Just my opinions. Yours are equally valid.


Well-Known Member
Hi-Rails are not high speed. They have really poor stopping ability and really poor pulling ability (compared to a locomotive), plus have limited load capacity (compared to a steel wheel vehicle).

There is a problem mixing passenger and freight because they have very different demands. Passenger demands high speed and frequent service. Freight does not. High speed freight drives up energy costs and is not necessary. Passengers want to go hundreds of miles an hour. Grain, coal and rock, not so much. E=mv2. The energy required goes up by the square of the velocity.

The problem comes in mixing traffic with different speed requirements. Move bulk freight at high speed and you drive up costs due to energy usage. Move passengers too slow and you reduce customer satisfaction. Plus mixing traffic requires the vehicles to be "sorted" and vehicles to pass each other.

Another consideration is integrating with other modes such as highway or water carriers. The system will have to be able to carry a standard container box at minimum and a domestic container box preferably.

There needs to be a way to balance the availability of vehicles since the loading is not evenly distributed over a day or week. Another availability concern with moving freight is that once you get into freight, there are a lot of freight that require specialized containers dedicated to that specific commodity.

The Adelaide-O-Bahn is neat for a busway, a low volume solution for a low volume problem. How does it work when you get a couple thousand buses on it? How does it work when the vehicles weigh 5-10 times the weight of a bus? It still requires a mode change for the last mile.

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