SkyWay and cTrain

SkyWay and cTrain

25 November 2016 15333

About a year ago, the student-architect Emil Jakob developed the design of a non-surface transport moving on special thin tubes having a honeycomb structure and located on supports in the form of arches installed at such frequency that the rolling stock could rest on at least one of them during motion.

The rolling stock consists of rail cars of 10-meter length with a row of 10 seats. Each of them is designed for one or two passengers. The height of this car is comparable to the height of a car body, since only sitting accommodation is provided. Boarding to the seats is done through separate doors that allows to create individual space for each passenger or a couple of passengers. Occupied and vacant compartments are marked with red and green indicators that allow passengers to navigate easily when boarding at the station. Performance of the system is increased by the system of indicating destination when boarding at the station. You take your seat, click the name of the destination on a special screen, and when you are approaching it, your cabin has the light signal "vacant". Rolling stock can move on top and underneath the tubes, it has an automatic control system. According to the developer, the line can transport up to 3,600 people per hour. The main advantages of this concept are the simplicity of design minimizing the damage to the image of the city; the possibility to reduce the tension of street traffic; low emission of hazardous substances; low cost of construction and operation. The claimed cost of building such a system is from USD 1.7 million per kilometer.

Photo source:

Emil Jakob developed this concept in the framework of his master thesis at the Boston Architectural College. In 2016, the idea was presented at the MIT Climate CoLab contest, where it was among the winners. However, at the moment cTrain is no more than a design idea that was noticed by the judges of the said contest. "We would like to see more detailed calculations of energy consumption and emissions of harmful substances that will be characteristic to such system. It is also necessary to make detailed calculations on rails and arches, on which they are mounted, and to ascertain their suitability to bear the design load. The claimed cost of construction seems to be too optimistic".

Unlike the above project, SkyWay is not a design idea, but a detailed technology ready for implementation. References of cTrain in the press that became the basis for this analysis, are explained by the fact that this design concept focuses on the benefits of transport of the second level with a lightweight structure that by today are actually implemented from an engineering point of view only in SkyWay systems. cTrain also looks like plagiarism of Yunitskiy’s ideas that existed 25-30 years ago, or just like an idea without any practical base under it. In this regard, the development of the Boston designer reminds the notorious UPrail of Victor Uzlov (plagiarism of the "early" Yunitskiy) or the Gotham monorail from the comics about Batman. In order to assess the possible route configuration of the second level track with rails without prior tensioning and resting on arched supports, it is enough to recall the Wuppertal suspended way with heavy beams at the cost of dozens of millions of dollars per kilometer. There are no miracles ― this route was designed and built by engineers. It was not drawn by designers without the slightest idea of the Theory of Strength of Materials, building mechanics, the theory of elasticity ― in general, about the physics of our material, but not virtual world.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Ulyana Orlova

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