Trains, Busses...and to the moon
Meeting Details: Monday April 3, 7pm, Online
Next Meeting will be in person, Tuesday, April 11th
Wheels on Steel:
How one European country is planning a ‘rail revolution’
The high-speed train that zooms across the Saudi desert
A look inside Brightline’s train maintenance facility in Orlando
Map shows Brightline stations: Target date set for grand opening in Orlando
Custom train wash helps Brightline put on a shiny face
In the Tube:
The Boring Company’s 2023 Not-a-Boring Competition commences
Up in The Air:
US military seeks to brew jet fuel from the air
US Air Force issues RFP for microreactor project
World Nuclear News
What Brightline can teach us about the need for dedicated high-speed tracks
Last month was the latest report of someone being killed by a Brightline train in Florida when an SUV crossed in front of the train, killing the 2 occupants. This time it was on the new tracks being tested on the route to Orlando. This brings the deaths to at least 88 individuals since
Brightline began operations in 2017.
These crashes are giving high-speed rail a negative image as the images of a train collision make for great news stories that are carried across the nation. 31,850 people died in car crashes in the US last year. To put that in perspective, that is filling up the Kohl Center in Madison (UW-Madison Basketball Stadium) – twice. The problem is car crashes are so every day that we don’t pay attention to them, but a train running into a pickup truck makes news across the US.
Worse, there is the fear of being trapped on the tracks as the train approaches. According to Railway Age’s article from Mar ’22, they believe that 70% of car/train collisions are the result of being trapped on the crossing, and not barrier evasion. This strikes fear in the American public and is the reason the news unfairly covers train crashes which then leave a negative image in the public eyes about the safety of high-speed rail. Especially considering Amtrak trains have frequently derailed.
This is where high-speed rail, and especially the Shinkansen, can be positioned as a solution over the long term. If Texas Central comes back, perhaps we can finally teach Americans how safe trains really can be…on dedicated tracks. After all, with no crossings, there is no risk of vehicles being trapped between gates and people will no longer be afraid of trains.
What the Landline Bus can teach us about airlines & high-speed rail
You may not be familiar with Landline Bus Service, but if you fly United Airlines from Denver to Breckenridge; American Airlines from Philadelphia to Atlantic City, or Sun Country Airlines from Minneapolis to Duluth; your ticket might say United, American, or Sun Country; but you are on a bus.
The idea of Landline is the bus is handled just like an airplane. You check-in with your airline, you drop your bags at an airport check-in counter, boarding passes are good for your whole itinerary, and the bus leaves the airport from an airline gate. It's just like an airline flight but never leaves the ground.
I had the chance to ride Landline from Fort Collins to Denver three times when flying between Wisconsin and Colorado. The service is great. The buses seat 35 passengers in a 1 – 2 configuration. There are ample power ports and the space between the seats is on par with First Class on an airplane. How it works is I fly from Milwaukee to Denver arriving at gate B30. Then I walk to gate B81 and wait to board. The bus pulls up to the airport gate and the airline gate agent announces boarding (awkwardly asking for Global Services, then groups 1,2 & 3 just like an airline flight for only the 15 passengers who are going to board). At the destination, the bus arrives at Fort Collins Airport and the bags I checked in Milwaukee are given to me.
The landline bus has been touted as a solution to the airline’s pilot shortage, but it is just serving small cities too close to fly. More importantly, it is a seamless integration of the bus and airlines that could be extended to trains. A passenger buys a ticket from United.com just like any airline ticket, and at the airport the passenger is handled like an airline passenger even down to boarding priority on the bus.
What this means for high-speed rail and the airlines are perfectly set up to align operations. From ticketing to schedules to customer service. In fact, with Brightline starting service to Orlando International Airport it would not be surprising to hear that Brightline has partnered with an airline.
We asked ChatGPT:
What’s the fastest a train could go on the MOON?
-Turns out ChatGPT still doesn't realize that escape velocity on the moon is anywhere from 3,000-3,500 mph. So the train it designed would also become a rocket. Which makes for a very interesting concept.
The theoretical fastest a train could go on the moon is much faster than on Earth. This is because the moon's surface is airless and has less gravity than Earth, making it easier for objects to move at high speeds.
The maximum speed a train could reach on the moon would depend on a few factors such as the power and efficiency of the train's engines, the friction between the train's wheels and the lunar surface, and the design of the track. However, in theory, a train on the moon could potentially reach speeds of up to 10,800 km/h (6,710 mph) or more!
To put that in perspective, that's more than ten times faster than the current fastest train in operation on Earth. At that speed, a train could travel all the way around the moon's equator in just over an hour!
Of course, there are currently no plans to build a train on the moon, but it's interesting to think about what could be possible with the right technology and engineering. Who knows what kind of transportation systems we might see in the future as we continue to explore and colonize space?
We asked ChatGPT:
What’s the fastest a train could go on Mars?
Question: What’s the theoretical fastest a train could go on the Mars?
The theoretical fastest a train could go on Mars is also much faster than on Earth, but still slower than on the Moon. This is because Mars has a thinner atmosphere than Earth, but it still has some atmosphere, which can create drag and slow down objects in motion.
The maximum speed a train could reach on Mars would depend on factors such as the power of the train's engines, the friction between the train's wheels and the Martian surface, and the design of the track. However, in theory, a train on Mars could potentially reach speeds of up to 3,600 km/h (2,237 mph) or more.
To put that in perspective, that's still much faster than the current fastest train on Earth, but only about a third of the potential speed of a train on the Moon. At that speed, a train could travel all the way around Mars in just under 8 hours.
Like with the Moon, there are currently no plans to build a train on Mars, but as we continue to explore and potentially colonize the Red Planet, who knows what kind of transportation systems we might see in the future. The possibilities are endless!
The Faster Badger is produced by students at the University of Wiscosin-Madison to help break through the misconceptions of high speed rail and high speed transportation. This blog is for educational purposes only and all opinions presented are of the students.