A Refinement Not A Return
For almost two hundred years, trains have ridden the rails, driven by loud and powerful locomotives. Born of the Industrial Revolution, they were the fulfillment of the continent spanning dreams of their creators. To solve the transportation problems of today, some would return to a model that no longer exists. Tubular Rail is a refinement, not a return.
The result of this admittedly unconventional approach was the invention of the Tubular Rail concept – a radically innovative solution to the ever worsening problems of traffic congestion, airport overcrowding, gruesome political battles over transit needs, elevating construction costs, and growing environmental blight.
Fully developed, Tubular Rail’s market would rival that of the Airlines and change the city scape of a nation and more.
Mission and Strategy
The mission of Tubular Rail, Inc., is to develop the Tubular Rail concept as a safe and reliable form of transportation offering purchasers and their end users an affordable system featuring ease of construction with minimal disruption to existing infrastructure and the environment.
In order to do this, Tubular Rail, Inc. will pursue short term funding to perform feasibility studies conducted by respected institutions with both the expertise and standing to perform such work. Additionally a competent manufacturer will construct a one tenth scale operating model capable of speeds of 30 mph for demonstration and testing.
Background: Reinventing the Wheel by Removing It
At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, Welsh coal miners would remove the product of their labors by loading the precious coal into wooden wheeled wagons and pulling it through the mud and out of the shaft. Eventually someone placed wooden planks on the ground for the wheels to ride on and the task was made much easier. Soon the planks and wheels were replaced by those made of iron and a mule was added to do the pulling. Many industrial historians credit this development as the origin of the modern railroad.
No matter what type of power used or type of service engaged in, all trains depend on the basic configuration of steel wheel on steel rails. Even magnetic levitation maintains a continuous rail as both guide and support for the force field. One wonders what the modern train would have evolved into had an early mine owner placed rollers on the ground and the rails on the car instead.
For coal mining and freight applications steel wheel on steel rail probably is and will remain the correct relationship. However, the technology of transportation is a field that continues to develop. The automobile and airplane have leapt ahead of the passenger train in this country but road and airport congestion problems are altering their relative advantage. High-speed trains are again being touted as an alternative for the 100 to 500 mile trip.
One only needs drive to a major city airport during rush hour to gain a vivid justification of the need for the development of Tubular Rail. In this drive, one is confronted with the dual problems of urban road and airport congestion. Tubular Rail, Inc. seeks to address both these issues: in one form as a mass transit system, and in another as a high speed rail system connecting points less than 5-600 miles apart.
Had we had, as a nation, the foresight to preserve corridors through and between our cities to eventually build inter-and intra-city rail lines to serve our transportation needs, we would not be facing the crises we now face. The Tubular Rail concept is not put forth as a replacement for light or high speed rail; rather it is a solution to the problem of the incredibly high cost of building these systems on top of, or within existing infrastructure. If freight quality track can be laid in flat and dry central Kansas for a million dollars a mile what is it about high speed and mass transit systems that drive these costs to some 20 to 40 million dollars a mile or more?
A 1988 study of U. S. light rail systems by Jonathan E. D. Richmond at Harvard University notes that "in most cases, capital costs have been higher than forecast, in some cases by a large margin." For example, the Los Angeles Blue Line's cost escalated from $194 million to $890 million, while Buffalo's $24 million tab ballooned to $552 million. As of February 2000 there were 59 U. S. light rail projects in the planning phase, another 38 in design, and 20 under construction.
The Tubular Rail concept developed from the observation of a very simple geometric relationship regarding the balance point of a beam at rest on two points. This author noted that much like sliding a pencil off the edge of a desk, given a uniform weight distribution the pencil – or any beam – could be pushed to almost 50% of its length before tilting would occur. Although the application of this principle was originally intended for a quite different purpose, a chance conversation led the author to research the efforts of the Texas TGV project of some ten years ago.
That research on the Texas effort as well as on other high speed and light rail systems around the world convinced this author that there was a huge market for an efficient, safe, and relatively non-polluting
form of transportation but only if the cost factor in the cost / benefit equation could be slashed.