Magnetic train car for Detroit-Lansing line proposal. Image credit:Interstate Traveler Co.
Detroit Free Press is reporting on plans in the US State of Michigan to install stainless steel track, 200mph, solar-powered "magnetic" rail line(s) along existing highways (as pictured). The prototype calls for an elevated track from Detroit to Lansing Michigan. See below for details and analysis.Conceptual details include cars built by the "Detroit Three automakers" and somehow - this is not well communicated in press coverage, so don't hold me to the details - "solar energy to power hydrogen batteries". Worldwide Hydrogen Super Highways, a Michigan company, is behind it.
The developers are leveraging appeal by proposing that "tracks also would serve as conduits for fiber-optic lines and other utilities." The prototype proposal would use no public money.
Two lines between Detroit and Lansing and Detroit and Ann Arbor would cost about $2.3 billion.These pictures give the impression of a "train" of cars not linked together. Looks like a made in Detroit "car" that requires tandem tracks to shuttle back and forth, turning rest stops on the current highway into multi-modal stations.
"Rail stations would be built at every freeway interchange along I-96 for the Detroit-Lansing line,..." Image credit:Interstate Traveler Co.
Because, as proposed, a station will be located "at every freeway interchange along I-96," this train would promote sprawl, as commuters from small towns and cities along the route would able to "drive and park.". That, of course, lets "Big Three" sell more cars of the rubber wheeled kind. Etc.
This quote from Free Press is technologically cryptic:
Magnetic trains are used in a few other countries, but those systems use conventional electric power, not solar-powered hydrogen batteries, Sutton said.The fundamental design choice about where to store hydrogen boils down to this. Put "batteries" on board, implying hydrogen would be carried to power a fuel cell "battery" on each and every car. Alternatively, "electric batteries" could be located along the line, to power the train car electric motors via wire, such that elemental hydrogen is not stored aboard.
For the latter choice, opportunities to make the design fail-safe for fire prevention are better. As well, weight would be reduced and car maintenance easier and cheaper.
Based on the above design schematic from Interstate Traveler Co.'s web site, it looks like H2 might go aboard. But it's not really explicit that this is the case.
Wouldn't a regular, iron-wheeled, high speed commuter rail located along the same public highway right-of-way be far more cost-effective, faster to deploy, and a lot more reliable and flexible? (Chicago has one like that which goes from inside the O'Hare Airport terminal complex to the Loop.)
An existing city-to-city rail line along Highway 96 (as below) could be put to use. Is it too busy with freight? Or does it stop in places where passengers are unlikely to live?
Wonder if any of those hundreds of private investors mentioned have the idea of using Federal stimulus package money for this investment?
I get the impression that the cars would not need conductors. Operation and maintenance would offer little hope for creating low skilled jobs.
This could be a transformational technology that freezes out other mag-lev system designers (which are all overseas) from two reasons: public purchasing requirements do not hold; and no other maker would have a compatible offering.
November and December in Michigan are dark and gloomy. Is there really enough power from solar to run this system sustainably? I doubt it.
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