Questions on High-Speed SkyWay: Comment from General Designer

Questions on High-Speed SkyWay: Comment from General Designer

01 July 2018 5661

The news “About High-Speed SkyWay: Better Less but Better” has caused quite a stormy (and mostly negative) discussion of “couch experts”, among which, unfortunately, there are our investors-opponents. Therefore, the news service addressed for clarifications to the main expert – the creator and General designer of the technology bearing his name. Here are the answers of engineer Anatoly Yunitskiy to the main claims from opponents.

Anatoly Yunitskiy’s comment:

“Firstly, we are creating a new transport and infrastructure sector, the optimization of which is a very complex process with non-trivial cause-and-effect relations. Have you thought about the reasons why Ford’s car has outdone Stephenson’s steam locomotive? Billions of cars run on 35 million kilometers of highways in the world today, while the length of railways is just over a million. There are two main reasons: moving “door-to-door” through an extensive transport and logistics network and the possibility to buy a relatively inexpensive small vehicle (“family car”) for an individual. Therefore, the advice to make high-speed unibuses with a capacity like in a train and a tram is not to me (and neither to Ford – his shareholders even sued him for the “incorrectly” chosen vector of development against the background of rapidly developing railways). Although on our main routes we will also have multi-seat public unibuses of larger capacity for long-distance trips – with sleeping places and toilets with a shower, as minibuses and intercity coaches have today on highways.

Secondly, SkyWay is a trestle-type mode of transport. And the cost of any trestle is almost linearly dependent on the value of the design load. What does this mean? For example, in the high-speed Minsk-Moscow route project, we minimized the cost of a high-speed overpass down to 3 million dollars per kilometer (total cost is 2.1 billion dollars). But, say, I could not resist the onslaught of our more “advanced couch experts” and after all launched 100-passenger unibuses weighing 50 tons each. In this case, the cost of the overpass will increase to $ 15 million per kilometer (the total cost rise of the project is $ 8.5 billion). The payback period of the project will increase from 3 to 15 years, the fare will increase 5-fold and investors will refuse to finance the project. And then where will these long-awaited dividends be, about which these very “couch experts” do not broadcast only from an iron and a water pipe?

Thirdly, since the optimal transport of the future is family-type transport, what is its ultimate throughput (traffic) capacity? I’ll disclose a little secret – in fact, the safe interval of traffic in the future will be even less – 0.5 sec, so that there will be not more than one unibus on one overpass. And the opinion that it will never be so, can be ignored – a more dangerous version of logistics is implemented in high-speed trains, as self-propelled wagons follow one another at 1-m distance and pass this distance in less than 0.01 sec. At the same time, mechanical self-oscillations occur in the train coupling (which will not happen with the electronic coupling), and even with the derailment of a single wheel pair the entire train with hundreds of passengers may turn up in the side ditch, since there is no anti-derailment system on the railway. It is easy to calculate that in this case the traffic capacity of SkyWay will exceed 2 million passengers per day. But this is not yet a solution to the problem – this is the formulation of the task. The General designer Korolev was also told by “specialists” (and was even imprisoned) that he could not create a reliable rocket control system, which by stability resembled a pencil that stood on a neb (and today the rocket is a real accuracy, because it can hit a stool at 10,000 km distance). Similarly, you cannot create a jet engine with the thermal power of 100 thousand kW per square meter in its combustion chamber (the most refractory materials burn down there instantly). And do the so-called “experts” know that, for example, a modern fighter with a variable-geometry wing, resting on the air rather than on rails, changes its geometry several times a second under a volatile airflow, and if the electronics fail, the airplane will fall apart in the air, since its speed is many times greater than that of a unibus?

Fourthly, how dangerous is the interval of 0.5 seconds, or the distance of 69.4 m? Let’s assume the incredible – one wheel fell off from a unibus and it rests on a special ski, that is, started skidding along the rail in one of the four support points. With a friction coefficient of 0.2, the unibus will start emergency braking with an acceleration of 0.5 m/sec squared. The situation could be corrected by giving more power to the other 3 wheels, but suppose the electronics failed (there are many examples in history when a locomotive pulled wagons with jammed wheel pairs). The unibus in front will start to move away, and the one behind will start approaching the collision, if no control decisions are taken. And how long will it take before the collision happens at a relative speed of 30 km/h? The answer can be found in the textbook of school physics – 16.7 seconds. Then what is the kind the complex control system, which would remain idle for 16.7 seconds? Anyway, there are several options for action: 1) a command is given to increase the power to remaining undamaged 3 wheels and the emergency unibus continues to move at 500 km/h speed; 2) a command is given for braking unibuses moving behind with an acceleration of 0.5 m per second squared; 3) the unibus moving behind draws close to the emergency one and, at the last 10-15 meters of approach, is braked to zero relative speed, automatically coupled to it (spacecraft in orbit are similarly docked at the speed of 28 thousand km/h) and pushes the emergency module, accelerating it again from 470 to 500 km/h.

Fifth, we have worked out the entire logistics of traffic on the route with the interval of the same 0.5 sec. With boarding at the station, as in the subway, within 25-30 seconds, and not 0.5 seconds, as fringes think. There will be just several platforms, where trains of several dozen unibuses will stay in a mechanical coupling. They will get out along the track and then separate on the track to re-assemble at the terminal station (this resembles playing an accordion, where the bellows stretch or contract). And you do not need to stop at every pillar. For example, trains to Smolensk with the inscription “Smolensk” will go according to the schedule, say, in every 10 minutes. They will be launched to the station in Smolensk via a switch (with a safety interval of about 30 seconds).

However, these are records. Let’s return to realities. Passenger traffic on the insanely expensive high-speed railway Moscow – Kazan, planned for construction, is estimated at a maximum of 20 thousand passenger/day in total in both directions (as, indeed, along the same route Moscow – St. Petersburg), or one passenger per 8.6 seconds in one direction. Thus, the traffic interval for 6-seat family unibuses will be 52 seconds. Perhaps, it is better to apply SkyWay here, rather than a manyfold more expensive Chinese railway (with tickets more expensive by several times) with rumbling heavy multi-seat trains ready to ram any obstacle, even a bus with children, stuck at a railroad crossing, rushing at the “first level” of the earth ballast – a low-pressure dam that cuts river sources, disrupts the flow of surface and ground waters, cuts farmlands and migration routes of animals, both wild and domestic?

Anatoly Yunitsky

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