Future Transit Technologies

F-Line to Dudley

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...and the last big North American rolling stock maker goes *poof*. EU antitrust commission approves Alstom purchase of Bombardier rail division after a long review process. The only antitrust concessions required were in each company's signaling and HSR divisions, and some "Buy Euro" assembly factory switcheroos. Signaling especially a big deal because these companies compete head-to-head in the PTC, CBTC, and train automation space. Deal was announced last year, but had to hold breath for this antitust gauntlet. Alstom made the deal on the rebound from Siemens' attempted buy of BBD Transportation collapsing a little over a year ago, and made it on grounds of fortifying EU dominance against the Chinese gov't-invested rolling stock makers who are undercutting everyone on bids. BBD is slimming down to just an aerospace concentration so they can live rent-free(r) off Canadian military and gov't-assisted airline contracts (TLDR: rest of world says good riddance, and "Good @#$% luck, Canada"...as BBD aero is several degrees deeper a military-industrial ward-of-state headcase than Boeing is to the U.S. gov't).

Won't affect the U.S. rolling stock market hardly at all, anyone's active/upcoming procurements at all...nor any of their LRT, HRT, or mainline rail product lines. There's some 1-on-1 competitive overlap in light rail between Alstom's Citadis and Bombardier's Flexity product lines which will be interesting to see how works out when it comes to which family gets further evolved to generation-after-this, but right upon first announcement of the merger last year Alstom said they were keeping both full-bore. I guess there's enough differentiation for that to matter. We could indeed be seeing either/or/both lineups bid for the formal Green Line Type 10 RFP, as it's pretty much them vs. current market leader Siemens vs. CAF vs. Kinki-Sharyo as the who's-who. BBD had some major on-time delivery stumbles with the Canadian Flexity Freedom that serves as template for their North American (and most Green Line-fitting) marketing. Toronto Streetcar's and Ion's (Waterloo/Kitchener LRT) fleets are performing well now that they're finally here, but there were massive delays in design teething and lots of contract penalty threats that had to be waved at them to finish the job. Alstom's probably going to be looking to tighten up the LRT div.'s quality control just a bit so they can put that ordeal behind them in time for BIG upcoming orders like the Type 10 bidding.

Bombardier is world #1 in commuter rail coaches by a mile...and North American #1 by a mile. Alstom really doesn't play much at all in that market, and their last attempt at U.S. commuter product, the NJ Transit/Metro North (west-of-Hudson) Comet V stainless steel single-levels from 2002-04, are chronic underperformers long since abandoned to dead-end lineage. So we'll continue to only see BBD-badged stuff bid in commuter land. Alstom does a lot of Euro EMU's, but majority of their stuff is made-to-order country-specific "Class" product for U.K. and French rail. They have a modular 'family' EMU/DMU now in the Cordia, but its market share is extremely lower than BBD's dominant Aventa and Talent lineups that got an earlier design start on the modular chunking. Propulsion guts for the MLV EMU that they're building for NJT and bidding for the T are Talent-derived, and if we instead wanted 'pure' rather than coach-hybridized EMU imports we'd probably be seeing a Talent derivative rather than a Cordia. They also have a much longer lineage of custom-build jobs.

BBD is much more dominant in locomotives, with their modular TRAXX series (U.S. derivative: ALP-4x's adopted en masse by NJ Transit) going head-to-head with Siemens' Vectron (U.S. derivative: Sprinter electric and Charger diesel) for world passenger dominance. Alstom has a very similar 'family' make in the Prima, sold as passenger electric/diesel/dual-mode or freight. But Alstom hasn't got anywhere near the market penetration of BBD. BBD hasn't had much luck expanding the ALPs' North American market share beyond NJT nor have gotten any takers for a straight-diesel version, but that can be chalked up to bad luck and Siemens being super well-organized for taking this continent by storm rather than quality/ubiquity of the source product. NJT's ALP's (both the electric -46A's and the dual-mode -45DP's) have pretty rock-solid service reps, and the TRAXX-derived guts in them are all kinds of dominant in Europe.

HSR trainsets, as the EU courts warned, have a lot of product overlap as there's a lot of different product on both sides of the merger competing head-to-head. Doesn't really affect us here as the dead-end lineage BBD Acela 1 bears little resemblance to anything widely used in Europe, and the Alstom Aveilas that Amtrak is adopting for the A2's are bulk-contracted to TGV design specs (France-spec)...and don't straight-on compete with BBD's big sellers catered to other parts of Mainland Europe (and trend more to EMU-based than TGV-style power car sandwiches like the Aveilas). The antitrust board was mainly concerned about the head-to-head HSR competition in the U.K. and Asia where there is quite a lot of product duplication, but as expected the antitrust resolution was rather toothless.

Both do lots of HRT business. BBD being much more world-varied because HRT still tends to be a built-to-suit market working off local (but overall relatively generic) specs rather than a case like LRT and commuter land where the modular 'family' makes now dominate. Alstom started off later and much more London Underground-centric with its HRT customers, but now has one of the world's most widely-used modular 'family' HRT makes in the Metropolis series. Used in 22 different cities, but except for some older-make Paris Metro rubber-tire stock the Metropolis skews heavily to Eastern Europe, Asia, and Southern Hemisphere because most Western Euro and North American legacy systems are still made-to-order. Bombardier has the dominant hand in recent orders, but they're suffering through the PR meltdown from the NYC R179's fiasco and have given the Chinese a wide-open door to make inroads because of the damage that NY carpocalypse has done to their rep. Probably no product-line changes in the combined company because HRT still trends so heavily made-to-order, but Alstom is DEFINITELY going to be cracking the whip on BBD's rapid transit quality control...which severely lags their still- consensus #1 good rep in commuter rail.
 

Stlin

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Disappointing: Human operator has a t-bar control (the bar is visible at lower left in the first photo below. Not seen: about a dozen buttons that the safety operator uses to train the system on "when a human would think it safe to go" including that the safety driver has to push a "it is safe" button at (1) all left turns and (2) right turns out of a parking lot. Operator also has to engage and release the hand brake at each stop.
The last time I read about this thing was that the autonomous part ... Just wasn't most of the time. As in, trees having leaves confusing the system, despite that being the default state for trees.

"Foliage is causing complications because the preprogrammed route was mapped when trees were bare. Once the leaves and other foliage emerged, it disrupted the sensors that help the vehicles navigate.

Even after 500 hours of testing at the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown, left-hand turns with incoming traffic require overriding the autonomous systems, as do rain, wind, pedestrians standing at crosswalks, construction work zones, speed bumps, potholes, and aggressive drivers."
 

JeffDowntown

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The last time I read about this thing was that the autonomous part ... Just wasn't most of the time. As in, trees having leaves confusing the system, despite that being the default state for trees.

"Foliage is causing complications because the preprogrammed route was mapped when trees were bare. Once the leaves and other foliage emerged, it disrupted the sensors that help the vehicles navigate.

Even after 500 hours of testing at the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown, left-hand turns with incoming traffic require overriding the autonomous systems, as do rain, wind, pedestrians standing at crosswalks, construction work zones, speed bumps, potholes, and aggressive drivers."
So basically "driving" causes overriding the autonomous system :rolleyes:
 

DominusNovus

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At the risk of seriously ticking off F-Line, I had a shower thought the other day about Hyperloop. Given that the whole system is composed of isolated pods, could hygiene concerns be enough to actually make it viable enough to put into use?
 

Arlington

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At the risk of seriously ticking off F-Line, I had a shower thought the other day about Hyperloop. Given that the whole system is composed of isolated pods, could hygiene concerns be enough to actually make it viable enough to put into use?
I doubt it. Two part answer:

1 )Hygiene is a small advantage, and probably vastly less so by 2022
True, in the short term Amtrak sleeper roomettes have been selling well for hygiene reasons because they accommodate family groups of 1 to 4 people, but I don't think anyone thinks that this temporary shift can drive capital-budgeting decisions (we haven't even seen Amtrak speed delivery of sleepers from CAF)

2) Hyperloop was not so close to viability that a small advantage would tip it

And question: how big a pod are you picturing? Everyone I'd seen seemed to depict a pod with about the same crowding as you'd get on bus, plane, or train. (not SOV pods)
 

stefal

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And question: how big a pod are you picturing? Everyone I'd seen seemed to depict a pod with about the same crowding as you'd get on bus, plane, or train. (not SOV pods)
Competition level entries are depicting bus-like crowding. Engineering companies that have made this a full time gig have shown 4-6 seats, and have talked about single/double occupancy.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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At the risk of seriously ticking off F-Line, I had a shower thought the other day about Hyperloop. Given that the whole system is composed of isolated pods, could hygiene concerns be enough to actually make it viable enough to put into use?
No...because the smallness of the pods and fact that they're a closed-atmosphere system traveling through vacuum places some upper limits on air cleaning cycles. A jumbo jet, also being closed-atmosphere, cycles its air approx. every 10 minutes and does so ceiling-to-floor flow which is best possible for limiting lateral spread of contaminants. That's extremely, extremely good...better than you'll get in any building. Trains/buses are non-closed circulation, but similarly heavy-duty on the cycling from ceiling to floor.

Pods would probably scale down...less circulating ability but also the lower capacity to circulate to. Such that in the end there's probably zero difference with other transit modes that already have the hardware capability for paranoia-level air cycling and are just making best-practice adjustments to their rates. All told it's extremely safe across modes, more optimistic now with more research than originally feared.

So for HL it's back to the "Why?" question when other modes are good enough and contending with the other more snake oily challenges with building it. The biggest red flag being the hype machine trying to pass off such low-capacity mode as replacement for high-capacity modes. There's the big question on what headways are sustainable with 4-6 person pods that have to be individually loaded. The COVID angle hits the same limiter...how do you between-run clean surfaces fast enough to cycle pods back into service? Same capacity v. headway systemic dilemma, different 'dwell' stressor.

That's by far the bigger rub than air circulation.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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BREAKING!


Hyperloop test track carries first-ever passengers! 2 people @ 100 MPH!* Bygawd, the future is here! Buy moar Elon stock now!!!


*This astounding feat has only been happening every single day for >50 years between New York and Philly on one half-row of Amfleet coach-class seats.
 

DominusNovus

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I am not nearly as hyperloop-skeptical as the rest of the board. I agree it has many challenges before it can be considered a viable technology, and its nowhere near where it needs to be. The knock off tech from it can be very useful, as the floor of expectations.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I am not nearly as hyperloop-skeptical as the rest of the board. I agree it has many challenges before it can be considered a viable technology, and its nowhere near where it needs to be. The knock off tech from it can be very useful, as the floor of expectations.
What knock-off tech? It's a vac-train...great white hype of the 1880's swapped out with better materials engineering. The too-low capacity problem is absolutely no more evolved than it was 140 years ago, and the geometric inflexibility vs. speed retention just as impossible as 140 years ago for fitting to real-world ROW's. It's beaten-to-death trodden ground coated in a new round of overhype.

What, specifically, is it innovating by osmosis into the greater environment? The tech is way more retread than Maglev, which is at least informing research into friction reductions on conventional steel-wheeled rolling stock. What specifically is the rest of the world technologically gaining from still-too-small vactrains that is different from what they weren't gaining before when research decided there was nothing left to try for and gave up the last time?

Just because it gets covered in the media like breathless Jetsons Shit doesn't mean the coattails are as fruitful as the Space Program. Where's the proof?
 

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I have no opinion of the hyperloop, but can someone give a really quick run-down of the major flaws? Wasn't maglev a part of the initial design or is that out the window already? What's preventing them from increasing the size/length of the capsules to fit more rows of people?

It's being pitched around as the utopian hubs for many big arch firms to design, but it seems like a lot of hot air.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I have no opinion of the hyperloop, but can someone give a really quick run-down of the major flaws? Wasn't maglev a part of the initial design or is that out the window already? What's preventing them from increasing the size/length of the capsules to fit more rows of people?

It's being pitched around as the utopian hubs for many big arch firms to design, but it seems like a lot of hot air.
Main flaws: pods must be very small or else maintaining vacuum gets prohibitively difficult and power-hungry. Extremely low capacity of pods multiplied by dwell times for loading/unloading (and now...cleaning) pods places upper limit on headways that keeps mode's capacity very low. And to sustain speeds in a vac tube requires extremely straight geometry and extremely wide curve radii...ROW conditions not found in the real world between any two built-up city pairs. Curves and inclines/declines are much more punitive to ride quality in a tubular fixed guideway vs. a ground rail fixed guideway with tilt allowance and/or conventional vehicle shocks above the rail. Real-world slow zones maim capacity by harming throughput of the very small-capacity units with outsized dwells.

This is only solvable if you can SIGNIFICANTLY increase the pod capacity to real transit vehicle (i.e. multi-car train) size...but that's exactly the limiter of the vacuum environment vs. increased tube size. This is exactly where 19th c. vactrains dead-ended. Physics is physics...h'loop scrapes the same physical barriers.

The practical applications don't look realistically better than where old-timey vactrains scaled...maybe an Airport people-mover, something straight and medium-slow at multiple city blocks' length. Anything longer can't handle curves at speed or cycle dwells from such small pods for frequencies worth a damn. That's the most this hype can feasibly bear: a trip from an offsite parking garage to a Terminal concourse.
 

The EGE

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In short: extremely high speeds mean long braking distances. Combine that with tiny capsules, and you get incredibly low capacity. At very high cost per passenger - maintaining a high vacuum is not cheap, and neither is infrastructure. And that's assuming it's even possible, or safe. No one has ever made a vacuum of this size before, or kept it reliably going. One little leak, and your capsule hits the edge of the tube at 500mph.

It's vaporware designed to kill high-speed rail so that Musk can sell more Teslas.
 

DominusNovus

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Assume that, by the year 20XX, we've got practical maglev trains (if you really want to indulge me, they could also be vacuum trains). I don't mean just technically feasible, we obviously have that already. I mean we've gotten so good at building maglevs that performance has gone up enough and costs have come down enough that we're building them in the US. I understand this is not necessarily likely, and that, even with advancements in superconductors and other material sciences that we could still have some serious issues. But lets just grant that we've actually managed to solve them.

My question (and this particularly applies to the Acela corridor) is just: where would we put them? The ROW issue seems like a problem that is, at least, on the same scale as the engineering problems (which is why I'm asking everyone to grant the engineering challenges are not a major issue). Sure, if you're building maglev lines in the less densely populated parts of the country (which also tend to be flatter than average), you can probably do just fine. Of course, in most instances, they wouldn't be practical there. Specific instances, like say Los Angeles to Las Vegas, or perhaps linking up various major cities in Texas, that probably isn't as much of a problem. But Boston to NYC to Washington really feels like a nightmare to get done.

Would we have to just bear the cost of tunneling the entire line in places like the Northeast?
 

Stlin

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say Los Angeles to Las Vegas, or perhaps linking up various major cities in Texas, that probably isn't as much of a problem. But Boston to NYC to Washington really feels like a nightmare to get done.

Would we have to just bear the cost of tunneling the entire line in places like the Northeast?
I'm pretty sure that LA to Las Vegas was at one point a fairly serious proposal. Fundamentally, Maglevs are just a particularly complicated form of monorail, with all the penalties of that mode, with significant infrastructure demands on both ends, not just the RoW - every single piece has to be created from scratch. Stations, yards, maintanence facilities, power... (Maglev is apparently 4-5 times as power hungry as traditional HSR) That's not to say it couldn't be done - it'd just be prohibitively expensive. I'd imagine the only places Maglev could happen are places where there isn't that preexisting infrastructure, like LA to LV, or a self contained medium to low speed urban system. I think a straighter NEC alignment would probably win in any alternatives analysis.

That said, NE maglev is a vaguely serious proposal, though I personally think it's doomed. These Guys seem to have some amount of political muscle, having at least managed to sheppard DC - Baltimore through most of the EIS process (final expected next year). If this "initial operating segment" actually materializes, *maybe* extension to NYC and Boston is in the cards, but it'd probably be mostly tunnel and some elevated segments where appropriate.
 
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DominusNovus

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I'm pretty sure that LA to Las Vegas was at one point a fairly serious proposal. Fundamentally, Maglevs are just a particularly complicated form of monorail, with all the penalties of that mode, with significant infrastructure demands on both ends, not just the RoW - every single piece has to be created from scratch. Stations, yards, maintanence facilities, power... (Maglev is apparently 4-5 times as power hungry as traditional HSR) That's not to say it couldn't be done - it'd just be prohibitively expensive. I'd imagine the only places Maglev could happen are places where there isn't that preexisting infrastructure, like LA to LV, or a self contained medium to low speed urban system. I think a straighter NEC alignment would probably win in any alternatives analysis.

That said, NE maglev is a vaguely serious proposal, though I personally think it's doomed. These Guys seem to have some amount of political muscle, having at least managed to sheppard DC - Baltimore through most of the EIS process (final expected next year). If this "initial operating segment" actually materializes, *maybe* extension to NYC and Boston is in the cards, but it'd probably be mostly tunnel and some elevated segments where appropriate.
I'm aware of those other problems, which is why I'm just focused on ROW here. I think it is a very non-negligible problem for any network that is effectively going to be entirely isolated and built from scratch from the existing rail network.
 

Stlin

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I'm aware of those other problems, which is why I'm just focused on ROW here. I think it is a very non-negligible problem for any network that is effectively going to be entirely isolated and built from scratch from the existing rail network.
Sure, but those requirements all but dictate the RoW. Fundamentally, you have a vehicle design that which has a very narrow band of curvature and geometry for optimal performance. Existing ROWs, rail, highway, power, all are far too curvy - the Chūō Shinkansen line that Northeastern Maglev is cribbing everything from has a minimum curve radius of 8km on that line. Now, this isn't dissimilar from traditional HSR - 250mph/400kph service as developed for CHSR has basically the same requirements. Any RoW you could build for maglev, traditional HSR would also be a viable option. It's just that Maglevs fully dedicated nature means you have to rebuild every last inch. You just can't reuse any suboptimal but good enough infrastructure to get close into urban centers, or existing rail straightaways, for instance. I suppose if you're replacing the whole NEC with dedicated track and stations it doesn't matter what mode you use though (Ie how China built out HSR).

The DC-Baltimore Draft EIS basically shows the entire thing built in tunnels and only emerging for 25% of the distance where the curve of the BWP and federal land makes a elevated segment viable. It makes a grand total of 4 sweeping curves over 40 miles. It relies on those tunnels to get anywhere near the cities and to straighten the RoW enough elsewhere.

I think you answered your own question; yes, if you want 500kph Maglevs running the NEC, you'd 100% end up with a lot of tunnel and some relatively small fraction elevated in highway medians where ever that RoW is appropriately straight and wide enough, goes in the right direction or where land acquisiton is viable. For context though, The Chūō Shinkansen line is 90% tunnelled, and some alternatives for DC Baltimore reached 86%. Any universe with common high speed maglev would probably have them running mostly in tunnels, unless you're willing to expend enormous sums to ED a perfect surface RoW.
 
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DominusNovus

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Sure, but those requirements all but dictate the RoW. Fundamentally, you have a vehicle design that which has a very narrow band of curvature and geometry for optimal performance. Existing ROWs, rail, highway, power, all are far too curvy - the Chūō Shinkansen line that Northeastern Maglev is cribbing everything from has a minimum curve radius of 8km on that line. Now, this isn't dissimilar from traditional HSR - 250mph/400kph service as developed for CHSR has basically the same requirements. Any RoW you could build for maglev, traditional HSR would also be a viable option. It's just that Maglevs fully dedicated nature means you have to rebuild every last inch. You just can't reuse any suboptimal but good enough infrastructure to get close into urban centers, or existing rail straightaways, for instance. I suppose if you're replacing the whole NEC with dedicated track and stations it doesn't matter what mode you use though (Ie how China built out HSR).

The DC-Baltimore Draft EIS basically shows the entire thing built in tunnels and only emerging for 25% of the distance where the curve of the BWP and federal land makes a elevated segment viable. It makes a grand total of 4 sweeping curves over 40 miles. It relies on those tunnels to get anywhere near the cities and to straighten the RoW enough elsewhere.

I think you answered your own question; yes, if you want 500kph Maglevs running the NEC, you'd 100% end up with a lot of tunnel and some relatively small fraction elevated in highway medians where ever that RoW is appropriately straight and wide enough, goes in the right direction or where land acquisiton is viable. For context though, The Chūō Shinkansen line is 90% tunnelled, and some alternatives for DC Baltimore reached 86%. Any universe with common high speed maglev would probably have them running mostly in tunnels, unless you're willing to expend enormous sums to ED a perfect surface RoW.
Any chance you've got any good materials on the cost breakdown on the Shinkansen line? Basically, the question I'm interested in, in this case, is what percent of the cost is the tunneling, and what percent is everything else (and, as an ancillary question, how important reducing the cost of tunneling is).
 

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