What rails should be used to reclaim the North?

What rails should be used to reclaim the North?

12 January 2018 6697

A new round of interest in the development of the Arctic Regions and territories North of Arctic Circle Arctic is no longer something new. Experts discuss what to focus on. Some people criticize presently uneconomic oil exploration. The others say that it will pay back in the future. The third ones speak about the development of the Northern Sea Route. The fourth ones discuss how real farming in the tundra may be. And someone is already conducting experiments in this direction. However, all this is not so important until they solve the old problem ― creation of a reliable transportation land communication in the mainland of the Arctic, in the North of Arctic Circle. We talked on this subject with the Head of targeted projects Department at the engineering company SkyWay Technologies Co. Kiryl Badulin.

― How relevant are transport solutions from SkyWay family for the exploration of Northern territories developed by your SkyWay Technologies Co.?

― Our technologies are suitable for such conditions. First, our vehicles are environmentally friendly. Second, this is a high level of safety. The system is less costly than other surface modes of transport by 3-5 times, and compared with other systems in the elevated design ― by 15-20 times. If we speak about the distant inaccessible areas, this is a unique solution. It covers not only the problem to deliver people and goods. SkyWay tracks can be combined with communication lines, power transmission lines, etc. We are creating not just a transportation system, but infrastructure in the new logic. Once people used the phone just for calling, and now the smartphone performs the communication function by 5% only. The rest is additional services. We have to think about the future, to think about how we can use transport infrastructure for development projects and territory development.

SkyWay unibus and unibike at EcoTechnPark in Belarus

Samples of SkyWay transport “carriages” at EcoTechnoPark in Minsk region.

— Your transport runs above the ground thanks to supports. However, the Arctic Region is a vast territory. You will have to install a lot of supports. Besides, there are places where it is difficult to install them. There are also terrain features that do not allow to do it at all.

― I understand what you're driving at. Well, presently the maximum span length between supports is 3 km. We are working out spans of up to 7 km length. And the maximum height depends on the technical parameters. At EcoTechnoPark in Minsk region, where we demonstrate our solutions, the height is less than it would be in real conditions of operation. This is due to several factors: first, it is a test site and it is necessary to provide ease of access to the track structure for testing engineers, and secondly, we have made the tracks lower so that numerous potential customers who come to us could view them and rolling stock better. In real commercial projects, the height is set with the consideration of the sag on the track structure and the need to keep underbridge clearance.

Another advantage. Our transport can overcome large gradients: the railroad is able to take up only 9% gradient, for our technology it is up to 58%.

― How about icing on the track infrastructure, snow storms? It is quite possible in the Arctic Region.

— Snow piles won't scare us, because it’s a type of transport that runs not on the ground, but above the ground. And if we speak about icing, even in the 2000s when the first prototype was created, it was also tested in terms of resistance to icing at the test site in Ozyory in Russia, where a vehicle on the basis of the truck ZIL was used. There was a strong frost, the track was preliminary poured with water. About 5 cm of ice has grown up. They started a simulator of rolling stock on steel wheels — it broke down the ice. Now we have a mode of transport of a different generation, but we also lay up the solutions ensuring the ice does not scatter or interfere with the traffic.

— How suitable is your transport for Northern ports?

— We have special solutions for the ports that, like our transportation system, are less costly and optimal. Thanks to the new principles of logistics, we will increase the rate of loading to vessels, minimize space of warehouses for storage. This can be done in different ways: by means of a conveyor for bulk goods, for example. And the port itself can be outstretched into the sea, without occupying the coastline.

— Won’t standard containers fall from your overhead tracks? Perhaps, you will have to design a new standard?

— No. We are designing tracks for the conventional containers now used. No need to invent new ones.

Our carriages for passengers are, of course, not such as on the railways. However, the logistics scheme allows to do everything less costly by 5-7 times compared to conventional trains. For example, “unibus” can accommodate 14 people. This vehicle consumes 2.5 liter of fuel equivalent per 100 km at the speed of 100 km/h. Now a lot more is spent to travel in hard-to-reach areas, and not only.

Evgeny Petrov

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