Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Office Trains

Build big trains and work in them
  [vote for,

This underground train would have a base three times as wide as a traditional one. It would be built as an office (two or even three stories are possible if the third floor is narrower)

The purpose would be to let companies rent different slots/addresses in a city as their needs and budget changes, and to allow them to expand or shrink their office space very smoothly. Companies needing to tighten their belts could get a cheap slot a few miles from the city and sell a few cars until things turn around. Any company at any location could grow and shrink as required.

Bonus: office buildings can be moved in a regular path allowing them to be close to the suburbs in the morning, in the city in the middle of the day, and back again that night.

Bonus: easy connections between light industry and railways, without the use of trucks.

Voice, Jan 26 2020

Mama always said, "A caboose is as a caboose does." http://trn.trains.c...tory-of-track-gauge
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jan 27 2020]

After a hard day at the Office Train, stay at a nice comfortable hotel... Round_20Trip_20Train_20Ride_20Hotel
[hippo, Jan 27 2020]

https://www.snopes....oad-gauge-chariots/ [hippo, Jan 27 2020]

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       You could almost do this in Tokyo,but overground. The Yamato line is a big loop,and early start to damn near midnight.
not_morrison_rm, Jan 26 2020

       (+) Makes me think of Office Pirates.   

       "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" ... ?
8th of 7, Jan 26 2020

       Heh, yes. Never knew the name of the skit before.   

       //This underground train would have a base three times as wide as a traditional one.//   

       Interestingly the distance between modern railway tracks is based on Roman chariot ruts which in turn were determined by the width of a horses ass, so you see a base three times as wide will Shirley be neighsayed... probably in triplicate.   

       [2 fries] That's one of those neat explanations that contains a grain of truth but isn't quite as tidy as presented - see link
hippo, Jan 27 2020

       Huh. Thanks [hippo].   

       // one of those neat explanations that contains a grain of truth //   

       It's another fascinating example of convergent evolution of a design.   


       Firstly, the chariot.   

       The two wheeled chariot was first and foremost a piece of military equipment. It allows efficient division of responsibility in the same way that a 2 seater fighter does. There is a driver (pilot) and a soldier (weapons operator).   

       The best disposition in a chariot, for right-handed personnel, is to have the fighter on the right of the chariot with their sword (dominant) arm to the outside of the vehicle, and their non-dominant arm in the centre to allow them to grip the chariot frame (along with foot loops, this gives them three points of attachment). The driver, on the left, grasps the reins in their dominant (right) hand – along the centreline of the vehicle – and has their left hand free to hang on, or wield a small shield.   

       So the chariot needs to have enough width to allow two humans to stand side by side with a bit of room; the centre of gravity needs to be kept low, and the wheels fairly large as larger wheels cope better with rougher terrain. Thus the axle runs just below the floor with the wheels on each side, close in but not so high as to obstruct the weaponeer, and giving good ground clearance, yet being as manoeuvrable as possible while still stable.   

       From these criteria, based on the Mk.I human* the chariot more or less designs itself.   

       For ease of manufacture and maintenance (particularly field repair), parts become pretty much standardised. So, when not making war chariots, the skilled craftsmen turn out small, handy cargo carts to a similar design – wide enough for two people, and re-using a maximum of components. At that size, such a cart is still small and light enough, even when laden, to be manhandled by a couple of average humans.   

       In towns, the streets are awash with excrement, so there are stepping stones, which have slots to allow the wheels of small carts to pass through, with standard slots to take standard wheel spans – hence the “four foot, eight and a half”.   

       A second and very serious problem with the Mk. I human is psychological – innate conservatism; although “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” does make a lot of sense in engineering terms. So the apprentice is taught how to make carts by the Master Wheelwright, who learned the same things as an apprentice himself. Over many generations, cart design changes very little, because the Mk I human, and the Mk. 1 horse, are not upgraded, and the end-user requirements (cart able to operate in narrow, excrement-filled streets with a small crew) remain constant.   

       Wagonways thus evolve to use existing technology; the builders design around the existing carts. Tramways evolve from wagonways, the first railways are just modified tramways.   

       The irony is that Brunel, with his Broad Gauge design, was spot on in terms of the kinematics of rail vehicles. Wider is better, for high speed running, smoothness, comfort, capacity. But the infrastructure all has to be much bigger to cope, and is proportionately more costly. Interestingly, it’s possible to run a narrow-gauge railway where it’s impractical to put a road …   

       The ideal system is where the long-distance high-speed lines are on broad gauge, and the feeder-distributor network around the terminals is narrow gauge, but passengers dislike having to change from one system to another. However, considered more in terms of the system discontinuity between air and surface transport (which is more or less unavoidable) the barrier is more one of perception than reality.   


       *A very unsatisfactory model, but even now no upgrade is available.
8th of 7, Jan 27 2020

       Why not have two sets of wheels on each train car, one for each gauge? Or wheels that can move in or out?
Voice, Jan 28 2020

       Yes - a variable gauge railway is what's needed, with wheels that can slide along the axles
hippo, Jan 28 2020

       // Why not have two sets of wheels on each train car, one for each gauge? //   

       Because at points and crossovers, the non-running wheelsets will foul the rails. Such a design can ony run on plain track, which makes it impractical.   

       // Or wheels that can move in or out? //   

       That can be done, as long as the difference is small, such as 4' 8"/5'. Any more than that and factors like loading gauge and kinematic envelope make such adaption impossible.
8th of 7, Jan 28 2020

       Fine, two sets of wheels on axles that can be raised and lowered. Or double-sided wheels that, as Hippo suggests, can be slid in and out one pair at a time.
Voice, Jan 29 2020

       Four! It's official now. Four rails it is. The original two and two outer extendy ones to compensate for load widths and hydraulic bladders for weight distribution on corners. We can add more as required.   

       Tunnel widening projects will require a substantial labor force of course but that's what Nitroglycerin is for...   

       I'm not an expert but I think whips and guns are better for motivating slaves.
Voice, Jan 29 2020

       // double-sided wheels //   

       You mean a cone on each side of the flange ?   

       You do understand how railway wheelsets operate, don't you ? How they dynamically "hunt" the optimum position ? Why the flange is on the inside, between the cones ?   

       // Four rails it is. //   

       Outstanding. Please supply an engineering drawing of a standard set of points. If they can be assembled in anything other than EscherSpace, we will be astonished.   

       Note that it is considered important by railway engineers that points should, wherever possible, not cause the immediate derailment of any wheels passing through or over them.   

       // I think whips and guns are better for motivating slaves //   

       Whips and clubs. Guns are only for stopping escapees. If you shoot a slave it causes excessive damage and usually stops them working. They may even have to be replaced. This can decrease productivity. Motivation should be via something extremely painful, but not actually cause significant or permanent physical damage; psychological damage is fine, indeed that's one of the objectives*.   

       You are actually human, aren't you [Voice] ? We thought your species are born knowing this stuff ... shouldn't have to have it explained to you. After all, that's what competitive team sports at school are for.   

       *Like Geography lessons.
8th of 7, Jan 29 2020

       Spartacus would like a word.
pertinax, Jan 30 2020

       // double-sided wheels //

The engineering is so much simpler than with those pesky Möbius wheels
hippo, Jan 30 2020

       Only because your species perversely insists in working in just four dimensions.
8th of 7, Jan 30 2020


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