Vehicle: Train: Access
Shuttle loaded trains   (+6)  [vote for, against]
System for increasing the efficiency of high speed trains

One of the problems with trains is that they need to stop and start at stations, which slows them up a lot. Instead of having the whole train go to each station, have the main line bypass the stations. Side lines lead on and off the main line like motorway sliproads to connect it to the station.

To get on the train, you get onto a shuttle train in the station. When the main train goes by, your shuttle moves out of the station onto the main line behind the train. It accelerates to match speed with the main train, and docks with it. Everyone then moves into the main train.

The people who want to get off at the next station move into the shuttle. When the train approaches the next station, the shuttle detaches and drops back behind the train. When the train has passed the points they are switched to direct the shuttle into the station. Meanwhile the people from that station have used another shuttle to join the train.
-- spacemoggy, Jul 05 2004

Slip Carriages
[Simonj] mentions the first half of the idea. In fact well- but no longer baked. [Gordon Comstock, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Moving Platforms http://www.economis...spread-less-quickly
[Worldgineer, Jun 12 2013]

Illustrated (planned?) by China
[Voice, Dec 18 2013]

Sounds more like fun than transportation +
-- skinflaps, Jul 05 2004

Good idea.

Only, the loading/unloading shuttle will enable one to embark/disembark from alternate stations only. Otherwise how are the joining and leaving shuttles going to pass each other? Care to rectify that?
-- neelandan, Jul 05 2004

blimey, those little shuttles are going to have to whiz about to catch up!
-- po, Jul 05 2004

I don't think they do pass. The embarkation shuttle from the last station serves as the disembarkation shuttle for the next station.
-- spacemoggy, Jul 05 2004

Good stuff.
-- 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jul 05 2004

Adding to [tabs] thought, the train could simply shuffle, losing at least one car at each station off the back, and gaining at least one on the front. This would work with existing tracks, but would cause lots of people to lose their seats at unpopular stations.

Otherwise to simplify logistics, Shuttle departs station X, rondezvous with the train, unloads passengers to the train, and loads passengers bound for station X off the train. The shuttle then undocks, stops, and reverses back to station X.
-- gabe, Jul 06 2004

I'm thinking individually-powered cars are expensive and more like a shared-rail-motorway.

So maybe a bungee-cord type setup could attach to the passing train and smoothly bring the cars up to speed?

my 2c only....
-- not_only_but_also, Jul 06 2004

You could always use the system used by mail trains until fairly recently. The boarding passengers hang from hooks at the station and a net extending from the train collects them. To leave the train you get into a hopper that tips you out into a net at the station as you pass.
-- oneoffdave, Jul 06 2004

Another version would be if the everyone who wanted to get off moves to the last carraige, which then detaches from the rest of the train and glides to a halt at the station. Boarding would be a bit trickier.
-- simonj, Jul 06 2004

With individually powered cars boarding would be just as easy. The last carriage, now at the station empties of passengers and fills with the people wanting to join the next train. The carriage then leaves and accelerates to the speed of the next approaching train which catches up behind it and links on. Individually powered carriages are cost-effective and commonly used on many electric railways.
-- wagster, Jul 06 2004

So what's the difference between "individually powered cars" and "lots of little trains"?
-- angel, Jul 06 2004

Hm. In a perfect world where the trains run on time and there's an infinite amount of public money set aside for large and costly infrastructure-building projects, this might work. But only if the inhabitants of this perfect world would stoically and politely accept their "moves about per commute" being at least doubled. Japan is the only place I can think of that meets these criteria and they've solved the time delay problem by making their trains go faster than Jesus ripped to the tits on bathtub methamphetamine.
-- calum, Jul 06 2004

Having to shuffle to the back of the train in order to get off is a bit of a non-starter really, especially if you've got a ton of luggage with you. Plus, there's the problem of safely docking the trains.

Just to enlarge on calums anno a bit. One of the other things about the Japanese railway system is that they always have plenty of trains running, thus minimising your hanging around at the station time.
-- DrBob, Jul 06 2004

The difference between this and lots of little trains, as suggested above, is two-fold:
1) Lots of carriages moving together are very energy efficient.
2) This system actually gives *more* flexibility than lots of little trains. This is because you don't need to wait for a little train thats going to your stop. (Assuming they don't stop at every station, which intercity trains never do - it would be ridiculously slow). Once you've got on the main train, you carry on at full speed until just before your station, when you move to the rear carriage.

There would be a bit of a problem with the baggage, but you have to carry it round the station when you get on and off anyway, so a few yards extra shouldn't make much difference.

On a related note, I really like the idea [gabe] mentioned above of getting the joining carriage to attach at the front while the leaving carriage detaches from the back. This would mean that everyone moved along the train the same way, and so cut down on people getting on/people getting off barging past each other. Also, it would be possible to predict from the ticket sales which carriage would be detaching for which station, so once you're on the main train you just move to that carriage and stay there until it stops at the station. Also, as he points out, that system would work with the existing rail lines.
-- spacemoggy, Jul 06 2004

Nice (+)
-- energy guy, Jul 06 2004

I'm getting a lovely mental image of the white-gloved tokyo train stuffers frantically trying to push people off the shuttle into the train before the end of the shuttle track. Imagine being stuck in the threshold at the end of the track....
-- gabe, Jul 06 2004

If the joining carrraige went to the front and you only wanted to travel one stop, you'd have to rush down the entire length of the train pushing past anyone who happened to be standing (and let's face it, there's a lot of that at the moment). Better not have too much luggage.
-- Gordon Comstock, Jul 06 2004

You got royalties? And a NOBEL PRIZE?!? Suddenly the sweet taste of croissants turns to ashes in my mouth.
-- spacemoggy, Jul 06 2004

Or: A catapult fires you at the same speed as and parallel to the speeding train, just as it passes under. You drop gently into your seat, and open your newspaper to read on the way to work.

I'd ride it (after about 500 other people rode it safely)
-- GutPunchLullabies, Jul 23 2004

No [GutPunchLullabies], no glory
-- normzone, Jul 23 2004

I think it will be better if done selectively, rather than all the stations. Those stations, where very few get in/out of the train, this idea should be implemented. Those stations where many people get in/out, it is worth stopping the entire train at that station. [+]
-- VJW, Jan 31 2012

I too like the "on at the front, off at the back" method.

However, besides having to race the entire train if one was travelling a short distance, there's also the issue that if one is travelling a long distance, you'd have to keep moving against the flow.

But I think we can engineer our way around that.
If the shuttles are not entire carriages, but instead one or two chair widths, they could progress to the back of the train like the colour nubs in those multi-coloured crayon kits. Passengers can transfer to or from permanent seats as necessary
This has the advantage that you don't need a walkway - if you can live with only being able to move a minimum of n stops, for a train carrying n shuttles.
-- Loris, Jun 13 2013

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