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Just a thought [trains being replaced by autonomy..]

tt4442

Member
Apr 2, 2018
11
4
uk
I'm pretty light on details at this stage, but in my opinion, having watched this video explaining why train travel cost so much, it got me thinking.


  • We all know autonomous cars will eventually replace most journeys
  • We also know the reasons rail is so expensive (from the video - staff, upkeep of trails due to old design, etc)
  • I think that over time, the likes of Tesla, or even the train companies themselves, will transition rail into roads for only autonomous vehicles.

You won't be able to manually drive on these paths, but you can use your own car assuming it is updated to a software standard. Something like Autonomous Journey Standard, AJS.

Safety measures of the AJS include:
  • All vehicles being separated by the stopping distance of said vehicle, including an extra buffer of 50%
  • Public and privately owned vehicles you can use
  • Preventative measures to block unwanted disturbances to said road
  • Cameras at all locations, with issues on the surface being repaired in lowest usage times

Additional ideas:
  • Surface of road could be unique in order to degrade less
  • Surface could use underground wireless charging

As said, early stages at the moment, but happy to get feedback...
 
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tander

Active Member
Jul 23, 2012
1,512
1,502
That's an interesting idea, have you crunched the numbers on the difference between building/maintaining roads vs. train tracks? My guess is roads are much more expensive but I don't know. In my area they tend to just pave over unused train tracks and turn them into bike paths or do some touristy type stuff with them. If I had to guess I'd say a) either you're right and trains are going to be made totally obsolete or b) the competition from electric/solar/self driving will force them to get a lot more competitive. My guess is that autopilot semis etc will take a lot of business away from rail, but rail will still be useful for commodities, especially when things go straight from manufacture/processing to trains to ships and vice versa. Personally I'd love to see rail come back for travel, especially if it goes electric and safety standards go higher. But now that I think about it, considering the Boring co, I'm guessing that maintaining roads/tracks will eventually get largely obsoleted by tunnels. And if that really gets going, I'm guessing they could make a lot of train sections obsolete too because traditionally train routes have been dictated by mountains, rivers etc., not necessarily most direct routes, so if you can just go under all that stuff it would probably make things a lot easier, plus you avoid weather and I'm not sure how easements work when you're underground but I bet that is a lot easier than above ground too. I'm guessing folks at the boring company have already thought about this stuff. Sorry for the ramble.
 
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Trips

"Boring bonehead questions are not cool. Next?"
Sep 22, 2015
1,223
1,407
Omaha, NE
Solar Power will have a huge impact on railroads. Just today it was reported that producing electricity with solar costs about 50% versus using coal. With a very large percentage of rail traffic and profit based on hauling coal around the country they will need to do something.
 

Uncle Paul

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2013
6,299
6,879
Canyon Lake,CA
Some believe the answer will be found in Hyperloop technology. People and freight moving at high speeds in quiet and comfort. Economical due to less aerodynamic drag. Leave your Tesla at home, earning money in automatous livery service and jump in a Uber when you arrive at your destination.
 
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Brando

Active Member
Sep 27, 2016
2,984
2,055
Bainbridge Island, WA
Looks like similar thinking to this: Electrify Caltrain? Or could robocars do it for less than 1.5 billion? | Brad Ideas

See also: A modern paternoster elevator (for cars and maybe people) | Brad Ideas

Me? I think it's a little early to start paving over railways. But it's probably time to start working on cost models, and maybe implement a proof-of-concept or two.
We already did pave over rail tracks - in our cities the trolley tracks - do an internet search and some reading to learn more.

GM trolley car scandal
 

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