High-Speed Trains That Pick Up Passengers Without Stopping Not Yet A Reality, But Almost There

By Ajit Jha on December 28, 2013 7:12 PM EST

Moving Platforms
Since the 1960s, several designs have emerged for a high-speed train that can drop off and pick up passengers without ever stopping, and although none have come to fruition, some are on the verge. (Photo: Priestmangoode)

A high-speed train that picks up passengers without having to stop has remained a fantasy despite being on drawing boards since the 1960s. Since then, various designs have been laid out and simulated, even though the concept has remained pretty much the same. The 1969 blueprint of the AT 2000 train is not quite different from current designs. The principle that the scientists hope to use is not rocket science either. The idea of non-stop trains with passengers boarding and getting off is based on using an adjoining vehicle that docks to the high speed train for the passengers to transfer, while the vehicle disengages once the transfer is complete. 

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The idea of such a train as this, from an engineering perspective, could entail massive savings in material wear from braking, as well as from reduced energy waste due to minimal stopping and going. In addition, travel time could be drastically reduced, rush to get in and out of the train could be eliminated and exposure to pollution could be minimized.

If the idea proposed by the U.K.-based design firm Priestmangoode is implemented, we could soon be ushering in an era of "Moving Platforms," and the reality of non-stop passenger trains. According to this design concept, the reconfiguration of city train or subway networks would involve a local train with passengers running in a loop parallel to high speed rail routes at certain points, while a momentarily secured link with transfer gate would let passengers get on and off the train. Big, wide doors would let passengers move seamlessly between the two vehicles without confusion or rush, as the two trains would remain docked for about the same time as a train normally stops at a station, Paul Priestman, director of the company, told CNN.

Apart from the cost, planners would have to meet the most difficult challenge of reworking the entire infrastructure public transport systems across numerous cities. In addition, there is a huge potential for mishaps. Some of the unaddressed issues in the blueprint include breakdowns and missed connections, as well as passengers who are carrying lots of luggage, io9 reports.

Alternatively, the design approach offered in 2007 by Taiwanese designer Peng Yu-lun offers a pod module to make the passenger transfer safe. The module full of passengers sits above a nesting structure over incoming trains. The module would latch onto the front car and then slide to the rear by the time the train reaches the next station, so that the leaving passengers can dislodge. While at each station, the train would simultaneously pick up the next pod of passengers. This idea, like Priestman's idea, is also in its infancy. 

The obvious difficulty with this idea is how the smaller cars would join and detach from the superfast train. For these questions, experts in the field would have to be consulted, Peng said, according to The Daily Telegraph.     

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