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High Speed Rail Systems

The technology of trains has been with us in America since the early 19th Century (see references for [1826] and [1829], both claiming, amusingly enough, to be the first railroad in America. The one from 1826 was pulled by horses, though, so it was more like an improved tramway than what we would now consider a railroad.) Trains have [a long, rich history] in helping build America, and go [much farther back in European history] (The first Wagonways are cited circa 1550 in Germany!)

Before that, and stretching back to the dawn of recorded history, we have had caravans of coaches, wagons, camels, horses, etc. What we make the train out of has changed, but the concept of a "train" has been with us pretty much since the beginning.

As we move foward into the 21st Century there are a variety of ideas on how to improve upon the train using the latest in advanced technologies such as /ExoticMaterials?, /MagneticLevitation? (which requires so much electricity that it might not really catch on until we have something like room-temperature /SuperConductors? and have gotten away from /FossilFuels?, if even then.) Yet despite our advances in these technologies, the core concept of a "train" seems to be stuck. Ask most people, and they'll say "big, heavy, long, and expensive to run."

There are some designs, such as the /CyberTran system, which move away from the "big & long" idea of a train an propose smaller cars that can be deployed in a wider pattern to take a greater number of people to a wider variety of destinations.

LeifurThor has come up with a brilliant and extremely elegant design blending the technologies of /HighSpeedRail with the energy efficient and fascinating (not to mention wonderfully futuristic!) technology of /GroundEffect? vehicles.

Leifur also decided that our projected mass-transit needs in the future would probably require smaller and more independent mini-cars, as did the folks at /CyberTran, but he took it a step further and pushed for more Ephemeralization? (also known as "doing more with less", a prime DesignScience goal and idea pioneered by BuckyFuller?.) By reducing the overall weight of the vehicle using ultralight materials, reducing the track to a single monorail, and using /GroundEffect? to lift the passenger car up and fly it on a cusion of air, his high speed rail concept would provide a less expensive system to build, would use less energy to run, and would provide a much smoother ride for the passenger since they would literally be "floating on air" while whisking to their destination.

Here's a graphic he created to illustrate the concept:

You can find more details about Leifur's fascinating marriage of these two different technologies on his website: http://www.home.earthlink.net/~lthor/artifacts_rs.html

There are also many pages devoted to the development of other /HighSpeedRail systems. You can find a web ring devoted to this topic at http://p.webring.com/hub?ring=speedtrain

Please add other links, resources, questions, etc. (although

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Last edited February 7, 2003 1:51 am (diff)
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