Engineering/Concept > Wing In Ground Effect Train~”WIGET”
WING IN GROUND EFFECT TRAIN
Please consider an alternative high-speed rail system that could be constructed, and run for a fraction of what current high-speed rail systems cost to build and maintain. This could be done by incorporating a separate technology, which comes from aviation, into our current rail corridors.
HOW IT WORKS (SUMMARY)-
This alternative high speed rail system utilizes our atmosphere (what current train designers try to build around to increase speed) to separate the vehicle from the ground producing a similar effect as the MAGLEV trains currently being built, but doing it in a more simple, cost effective way.
As you can see from the illustration above though, this is no ordinary looking train. In fact it looks more like a plane that’s tethered to the ground like a kite. Yet unlike a kite, these trains could never get over 5 feet off the ground, even if separated from the track due to their aerodynamics. Pulled by a electric motor which remains on the track powered by an electrified rail, rather than having an on-board engine/prop, these trains would be far more quiet than any conventional train currently running or even in the planning stage.
HOW THE LIFT IS PRODUCED-
The system uses what is called in aviation ground effect. There are currently about 60 patents on “ground effect trains”, yet unlike this design, every one of them are either technologically unrealistic, or too expensive to build and maintain to be reasonably useful.
Within the last ten years however, over forty planes have been designed and built to fly at ground effect height (below 20 ft.). Unfortunately the designers have limited themselves to designing water bound planes. They’re called ground effect planes, or WIGS (wing in the ground effect).
Here is a link to photos of Various WIGS-
Why this system is so attractive-
LESS EXPENSIVE TO BUILD-
The vehicle itself has no engine or prop. Think of the WIGET more as a shell. The only rotational moving mechanism is where the wheels connect to the rail, which occurs away from the vehicle itself. The vehicle would have a second set of tires, that would be used on the path while the vehicle is building up to ground effect speed, or after leaving ground effect speed when entering a station.
Each vehicle would be computer controlled from a central tracking station. There would be no need for a conductor, or driver. Inexpensive on board video surveillance coupled with good security would alleviate any need for a paid rail representative to be aboard each vehicle.
Existing train corridors could be utilized operating WIGET’s carrying 6-14 people due to the wing loading needed. Current tracks see a train pass by any location usually no more than every ten minutes or so. This is a waste of real estate, and translates to people waiting for a train to leave a station. A WIGET system would see a WIGET pass any portion of track every 40 seconds. So instead of waiting for a train to leave, the “train” would be waiting for you to leave a station.
And the tracks could be built at a fraction of the cost of current railroad track building because the vehicles themselves are designed to be light, which translates to far lower ratios of tension and torque needed. Pave the path, secure the rail, and you’re ready. The rail, being electrified, would be the largest expense.
LESS EXPENSIVE TO MAINTAIN-
Because when the vehicle is in motion it’s using ground effect, the only connection with the ground is at the point of the electrified wheels and monorail. Think of it as a win-win for passengers and maintenance crews. An incredibly gentle ride, and a vehicle that rarely touches the ground, translating to few moving parts wearing down.
BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT-
If you can imagine the most quiet train you’ve ever been on, a ground effect train would far surpass its stealth . The only sound you would hear is the wheels connecting to the monorail as they whizzed by at over 150mph. Those wheels might be as small as 8″ wide in sets of 4-6 wheels. This concept for alternative high-speed rail transportation is also not limited to being powered by electricity. Hydrogen is also a viable alternative. I’ve used electricity in the examples above because it could be used right now, today, and it would be the most quiet.
This system’s efficiency is based on what is called “comprehensive ephemerialization”(also called anticipatory design science) Ephemerialization means doing more with less, or replacing “stuff” with “thought”. One such example of ephemeralization would be when telecommunications companies replaced thousands of miles of transatlantic cable for phone service with a single satellite. Again, replacing stuff with thought.
I mention this because this concept of a high speed rail transport system must encompass at least two attributes to be successful. It must do more with less (be more effective for transporting large groups of people within a short time span, use less resources, have less impact on environment, and be easier to build and maintain i.e. fewer parts than conventional train systems).
BETTER FOR PASSENGERS-
But even more importantly it must at the same time be more attractive to populations to ride on than conventional trains (less wait, more affordable, faster transport times). The trouble with using current conventional high speed train technology (large body pushed over duel rail system) to incorporate a faster train, is that by increasing the speed without fundamentally changing the base technology, you insure faster rides, but must charge similar or higher rates. By not changing the fundamental design, you guarantee increased rates which nobody wants.