German Internet-resource specializing in transport technologies – Urban Transport Magazine – has published an article reviewing the prospects of including SkyWay in Dubai’s infrastructure as the fifth transportation system.
“With more than 3 million inhabitants, Dubai is the largest metropolis of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Its public transport mix already consists of a light rail and bus systems, metro and monorail. There is a chance that Dubai will have a fifth transportation system in the future.”
As the publication points out, the technology is quite mature in terms of its engineering development. German reporters paid special attention to economic indicators and safety of SkyWay.
“This technology seems to be quite mature in terms of its mechanics. […] Since 2015, SkyWay Technologies Co. has been operating a production facility with a 36-hectare EcoTechnoPark test site near Maryina Gorka in Belarus. The various transport systems should cover the needs of passenger transport in city, commuter and interurban traffic at speeds of up to 600 km/h. SkyWay claims that its small transport units with a capacity of 1 to 168 people can travel safely at intervals of only 2 seconds, thus providing a transport capacity of up to 50,000 passengers per hour. Freight versions have also been developed. There are different types of vehicles for different applications. Rails and wheels are made of steel and safe against derailments. SkyWay demonstrates the feasibility of its system through a variety of technical studies and a model wind tunnel test at 500 km/h and operating tests with prototypes in original size. At the same time, the investment and operating costs should be well below those of other innovative and traditional solutions such as Hyperloop or conventional railways.”
The article did not pass by criticism of the project. As it turned out, distrust to the claimed features is inherent not only to sofa experts, but also to quite serious and experienced transport professionals. At the end of the article the author broke out with a number of “unresolved problems”, as he sees them himself. Let us analyze them together with specialists of SkyWay Technologies Co.:
The first thing the author noticed was short intervals between transport modules
“With regards to the practical implementation of the SkyWay system for Dubai, however, there are a few more questions to be raised. It has been communicated that the interval between vehicles will be of 2 seconds with a mean estimated stop times of at least 10 seconds. This would mean stations with long platforms. On the other hand, if larger vehicles are used, such as the three-car SkyWay Unibus for 18 passengers as it was shown at the InnoTrans 2018, a slightly longer dwell time of about 20 seconds would be required.”
In fact, there is no problem in it at all. To make it more clear we will answer this question based on the example of road transport conventional for us. The interval between cars moving on a highway often does not exceed 70 meters; this distance will be covered in 2.1 seconds at 120 km/h speed. By the way, an interval of 2 seconds is recommended in many countries including the US and the European Union. It is believed that this time is enough for the driver to react to an emergency situation and make a decision. For vehicles equipped with machine vision, this interval can be reduced even to 0.2 seconds.
The description of the technology indicates just such an interval. Several vehicles, the number of which may vary, move in a certain virtual bunch with an interval of 2 seconds. However, the interval between the bunches can be up to 20 seconds.
While riding off from the overpass to the station of passenger pick-up and drop-off, not one module turns, but the entire rolling stock of the virtual bunch. And 20 seconds is more than enough to leave the station and accelerate to the rated speed. A car entering the traffic flow on a highway spends less time on it.
On the issue of air conditioning and lay-out arrangement of stations
“The documents supplied so far show that there are no platform screen doors between the vehicle and the station platforms – in comparison to the light rail system supplied by Alstom where all stops are air-conditioned and therefore equipped with platform screen doors. Without adequate protection, passenger would exit from the air-conditioned SkyWay vehicles directly into the desert heat. For sure, the system will certainly need a lot of further development and adaptation work for its’ application in Dubai.”
Indeed, the presentation that became the basis of this article has no mentioning of doors to come out to the platform. Here is the link to the original video. This presentation of high-speed SkyWay is far from the latest one, and has nothing to do with the project in the UAE.
As for the construction of stations, they are designed according to those climatic conditions in which the object is located. Paddington, Kings-Cross are covered stations in the UK and they do not have end walls either. Here, the solution is more simple – entry to the station remains open, and auxiliary rooms, waiting hall, ticket offices, can be both with a free exit to the platform and separated from the platform for passenger pick-up and drop-off. This are already issues of architecture.
As we see, the above problems are caused by misunderstanding and not by the presence of any deficiencies and shortfalls. If these issues are the only problems that caught up the scrupulous German look, we agree with the author of the article:
“This technology seems to be quite mature in terms of its mechanics.”
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