Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trains on the motorway

I love trains.  I live next to the station and I smile when I hear any train horns blowing.  There's something about seeing 1000 people and 400 tonnes of steel gliding down the rails that warms my heart.  Although in this case, the trains don't glide; they rumble and shake and moan.  Pretty much all of the railways in Sydney were built more than 100 years ago, and they have barely been upgraded since.  So your average train ride is a pretty bumpy affair, and staying on your feet without clinging onto something is about as easy as riding a mechanical bull after a couple of cold ones.

Anyway, as this city grows, it's fairly widely accepted that we need more trains.  The problem is that most of the potential rail corridors have been sold off by the Government over the years.  That's where my idea comes in.  We have plenty of wide roads, and a couple of motorways in places where trains don't currently operate.  If we simply lay track on the existing roads, we have a ready-made rail network.  Allow me to illustrate.

Existing M2 motorway

New train-friendly motorway with the help of Photoshop

Of course it means some of the cars get shafted when the motorway gets narrowed.  But after all, the average occupancy rate is 1.4 people per car.  An 8-car train can carry more than 1000 people.

The main problem I have is fitting the stations on the road too, so people can actually get on and off.  The other challenge is getting the trains to climb the steep sections of the road.  Our trains are only rated to climb slopes up to 3%, and a motorway could be twice as steep.  In an ideal world, we could use these little beauties which have no problems with hills, but I don't see that happening.

I suppose I'll just have to keep dreaming.

Edit: I forgot to acknowledge this site where I found the actual train in the images above.  If you like trains, this site will make you happy:

Also, I stumbled across a brilliant discussion where people were suggesting improvements to metropolitan train and subway networks around the world here.  The proposed CityRail suburban network is pretty awesome.

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