Written by Joshua Liberles
Taiwanese inventor Peng Yu-Lun has an innovative idea to make train transportation even more efficient: get rid of the stops. No, he's not proposing that passengers are thrown on and off of fast-moving trains or that passengers are eliminated from the equation altogether. Instead, Yu-Lun envisions a small separated car perched atop the train. When the train enters a station, this car slides along on elevated rails that smoothly and gradually remove the car from the rest of the train and bring it to a stop.
Another identical car travels from these elevated tracks and gradually slides along the top of the train to pick up speed for boarding passengers. The end result: a train with no need to stop at stations.
Check out the video demonstration below, in Taiwanese, of what such a train would look like:
Sure, regenerative braking – the process that converts the energy typically wasted as heat when slowing down and storing it as electrical power in batteries – is a terrific energy saving solution. Many hybrid cars, such as the Prius, use regenerative braking and it's starting to appear aboard hybrid diesel/electric trains as well. But more efficient still is to maintain your momentum and dispense with a train's need to make stops.
Huge amounts of power go into bringing an entire train's mass to a halt at stations and then reaccelerating it back up to speed. By keeping the main portion of the train on the move, the energy savings could be huge.
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