Sunday, June 06, 2010

String rail: a low-cost rail alternative?

String Rail vehicle

String rail, a promising, inexpensive alternative to conventional rail systems profiled by Gizmag, might be a genuine breakthrough in comparion with other forms of high-speed mass transit. With costs estimated to be anywhere from three to 10 less expensive than approaches such as railway or monorail, string rail—originally prototyped by Anatoly Unitsky in Russia—is projected to support top speeds of 220 to 300 mph.

Is this something that could actually happen? The article's author, Loz Blain, notes:

Would I find it a bit freaky to be doing 350 kmh while hanging from a wire? Yes sir. Am I entirely convinced that the strings won't snap, even if a tower or three get taken out? No. Would a full scale demonstration convince me? Probably, yes. And this is the stage Unitsky is stuck at. His demonstration rig is small-scale, and there's nothing like the UST in operation anywhere in the world.

STU Systems in Australia is working to commercialize the concept and, naturally, seeking investors. Does anyone have a few hundred million of seed money to help get a very interesting mass transit approach off the ground?