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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There may be an alternative solution to the problem of EVs not having sufficient range for long trips, and it may solve other problems as well. Here is my idea:

Design all-electric (or even hybrid) cars and trucks so that they can also ride on rails. The transition from road to rail would be under computer control so that you just program your destination and it sets up a route, and also takes over all driving functions. So once you are moving on the rails, you can just relax and read or use your computer or take a nap. Your car will automatically take you where you choose without dealing with traffic. :)

Railways are built with minimum grade, have very low rolling friction, they use less space than roads, and the surface is permeable so they are less damaging to the environment and help keep aquifers replenished. It may be possible to power the car's electric motors and charge its batteries through the rails via magnetic induction (rather than high voltage pantographs), or the cars may be coupled to each other and pulled by an electric or hybrid locomotive.

This would, eventually, eliminate much of the traffic on highways and reduce the wear and tear that make it necessary to rebuild them every few years. Without heavy trucks and excessive use, the highways can be used mostly for recreational driving while basic transportation of freight and commuting will be handled by the more efficient and safer rail lines. :cool:

Since most of the fossil fuel energy waste is due to the huge amount of commuting and freight hauling, it would allow much reduced oil prices so that one can still go on a trip as we do now, but not have to contend with traffic jams and heavy trucks and other dangerous and unpleasant adjuncts to travel.

There are certainly many challenges and problems associated with this idea, but I like to think outside the box and toss out ideas that are much different from conventional thought. Might be worth a shot! ;)
 

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There may be an alternative solution to the problem of EVs not having sufficient range for long trips, and it may solve other problems as well. Here is my idea:
I have entertaind such thought for my RV so this interest me.
Design all-electric (or even hybrid) cars and trucks so that they can also ride on rails. The transition from road to rail would be under computer control so that you just program your destination and it sets up a route, and also takes over all driving functions. So once you are moving on the rails, you can just relax and read or use your computer or take a nap. Your car will automatically take you where you choose without dealing with traffic. :)
there are vehicle that the railroad uses that have dual tires and rail. the Rails are hydraulic.
Then locomotive has an Driver for a reason, usually things on the tracks, for range animals, to people with headphones so can't hear the whistle.
so one person would have to be a look out, with a stop switch.


Railways are built with minimum grade, have very low rolling friction,
for straight runs yes, however when crossing mountians the grade is as steep as for vehicles. curves are not low rolling friction
they use less space than roads, and the surface is permeable so they are less damaging to the environment and help keep aquifers replenished. It may be possible to power the car's electric motors and charge its batteries through the rails via magnetic induction (rather than high voltage pantographs), or the cars may be coupled to each other and pulled by an electric or hybrid locomotive.
if you have to wait for a "group" to use the tracks that sort of negates the purpose of the vehicle.
you also have to be hooked into the Rail management system so you are not scheduled to be on a track with no side track when you meet another train or vehicle coming from the other direction.
This would, eventually, eliminate much of the traffic on highways and reduce the wear and tear that make it necessary to rebuild them every few years. Without heavy trucks and excessive use, the highways can be used mostly for recreational driving while basic transportation of freight and commuting will be handled by the more efficient and safer rail lines. :cool:
think you will find a trip will take a lot longer on the rails than the roads.
Since most of the fossil fuel energy waste is due to the huge amount of commuting and freight hauling, it would allow much reduced oil prices so that one can still go on a trip as we do now, but not have to contend with traffic jams and heavy trucks and other dangerous and unpleasant adjuncts to travel.
yes, heard a statistic that train can haul enough freight that it is like a gallon per 300 miles, distributed over all the freight. but i doubt that could apply to a single vehicle.
In USA, atleast Locomotive are Electric and use ICE to power the generators.
There are certainly many challenges and problems associated with this idea, but I like to think outside the box and toss out ideas that are much different from conventional thought. Might be worth a shot! ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have entertaind such thought for my RV so this interest me.

there are vehicle that the railroad uses that have dual tires and rail. the Rails are hydraulic.
It might be best to have some sort of adapters at the rail stations for the cars and trucks to hook onto. Having ones own set of steel wheels for the track might create problems if they are not maintained properly.

Then locomotive has an Driver for a reason, usually things on the tracks, for range animals, to people with headphones so can't hear the whistle.
so one person would have to be a look out, with a stop switch.
That is a good point. There are limits to what computers and automation can do. Probably best to have things automated as much as possible, but still have an operator for each group with an override.

for straight runs yes, however when crossing mountians the grade is as steep as for vehicles. curves are not low rolling friction
AFAIK most railway grades are a maximum of 3%, and usually no more than 1.5%.
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070317185904AAOoDBs
But in order to achieve these mild grades the track often extends much longer in large spirals and also through tunnels and over trestles.

if you have to wait for a "group" to use the tracks that sort of negates the purpose of the vehicle.
you also have to be hooked into the Rail management system so you are not scheduled to be on a track with no side track when you meet another train or vehicle coming from the other direction.
Unless you are in a particular hurry and/or need to travel to a destination that is not well served by the rail network, you can use the "dead time" to relax, read, sleep, or get work done. When you are driving you need to pay attention to the road, so unless you really just enjoy driving, that is time wasted.

think you will find a trip will take a lot longer on the rails than the roads.
I'm sure it will, but you can just enjoy the scenery or sleep, and not be as frazzled when you get to your destination. People really need to learn how to enjoy free time and not be in such a hurry and get frustrated in traffic and cause accidents because of road rage.

yes, heard a statistic that train can haul enough freight that it is like a gallon per 300 miles, distributed over all the freight. but i doubt that could apply to a single vehicle.
In USA, atleast Locomotive are Electric and use ICE to power the generators.
http://www.csx.com/index.cfm/about-csx/projects-and-partnerships/fuel-efficiency/
http://www.lafn.org/~dave/trans/energy/rail_vs_truckEE.html
http://www.treehugger.com/cars/rail-versus-trucking-whos-the-greenest-freight-carrier.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_efficiency_in_transportation
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Mostly they confirm your estimate. There is also some deeper discussion of the myriad factors involved with fuel economy. For instance, a rocket may seem to have very poor fuel economy, using perhaps the equivalent of 10,000 gallons of fuel to put a 100lb payload in orbit 50 miles above the earth's surface, but that payload may travel millions of miles over its lifetime.

One point I would like to make, too, is the total cost versus benefit of the use of fuel or other finite natural resources. Some are obvious, such as the costs of mining, refining, and transporting the fuel, but then you should add the costs of the pollution, and costs of time and personal energy involved, and the actual benefit or detriment of transporting the person or the resource, and the container (car/truck). And you might even contemplate the effects of changes in efficiency and driving habits on the economy. Everything is connected! ;)
 

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I remember the old British Rail Motorail system where travelers would arrive at the station by car, drive onto the train and then drive off at the other end of the rail journey.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorail_(British_Rail)

This would be better and safer then driving a car on the rails. Also the trains would be time tabled and so waiting time would be reduced to loading time.

Would be even better if there was on board charging during the journey.

The modern version here is the Channel Tunnel trains.

 
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