Monorail Air Cushion Ultra High Speed (MAC-UHS) Transportation System
Using a combination of well-known and proven technologies, a highly cost-effective and innovative solution to ultra high-speed passenger train transportation is presented. The proposed Monorail Air Cushion (MAC) system uses lightweight vehicles built with aircraft technologies, propelled via electric linear motors, riding on wheels at low speed and on an air cushion at high speed, straddling a modular elevated monorail track. When compared to existing conventional high-speed trains, this concept would lower the cost of infrastructure and equipment, and decrease the time to build a transportation network by more than an order of magnitude.
The proposed train system uses a combination of four well-proven technologies, not currently used together in train transportation:
- Aircraft technology used to manufacture the lightweight vehicles
- Hybrid wheel and speed-assisted air cushion vehicle suspension
- Vehicle electric linear motor propulsion
- Elevated prefabricated, lightweight monorail tracks
The proposed train system uses existing technologies and does not require any new invention:
- The cars will be manufactured using aircraft technologies. Aircraft manufacturers will have an opportunity to use their know-how to extend their product line offerings to ultra high-speed train production.
- Today, air cushion suspension is widely used in civilian and military hovercraft. Forty years ago, the French Aérotrain air cushion suspension was successfully demonstrated.
- Electric linear motors are widely used in many industries and in Maglev trains.
- Monorail tracks can made of either steel, aluminum, or hybrid prefabricated pre-stressed concrete and aluminum, supported on prefabricated concrete columns.
The whole world has an urgent need for ultra high-speed trains. It is expected that aircraft manufacturing demand will be affected in the near future by the cost and the availability of fossil fuels. Electric trains are highly efficient and can be easily powered by renewable energy sources. Highly resilient, decentralized solar energy produced by solar farms situated along the track will offer minimum transmission losses.
The lower costs, safety and low complexity of the entire system make it extremely appealing even to developing countries. Since elevated tracks do not block ground traffic and present a minimal footprint, this mode of transportation has a much lower impact on the environment than any other mode of transportation. The elevated track is nearly impervious to ground level disturbances: animals or people intrusion, flooding, landslides, snowdrifts, freezing rain, etc.
Historically, governments have invested billions of US dollars in high-speed train systems. The proposed concept reduces the cost of such systems to levels that are appealing to private investment. The implementation technique will allow developing a transportation network within an unprecedented short time span, ensuring a faster return on investment.
The proposed MAC ultra high-speed train concept offers a revolutionary mode of ground transportation, which can leapfrog the existing designs, while offering much lower prices and faster implementation. This concept should be studied and validated through a thorough economic analysis that will take into account the long-term costs and benefits to society.