Slick, slim rail design to unclog city routes

March 11, 2010
Design of a Slim Ride rail cabin for up to 15 passengers.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A driverless, electric-powered light rail system designed to whisk commuters more efficiently around central Auckland (New Zealand) and across the harbour bridge could appeal to people who snub existing public transport, says its creator.

Industrial designer Oliver Neuland, from the Massey University's Auckland School of Design, has developed what he believes is a workable, affordable and stylish way to cut congestion in the inner city and Northern Motorway.

Mr Neuland is a former motorcycle designer from Berlin, who has been at the Albany campus for three years, teaching transport and industrial design. He has also taken a personal and professional interest in ways to combat the traffic problems that bring Auckland to a crawl and cost an estimated $1 billon a year in lost productivity.

His Slim Ride rail design consists of compact, stylish rail cabins with a lounge-like atmosphere and automated doors for up to 15 passengers each. Based on a similar model, London's Docklands Light Rail, the Slim Ride system would be neatly linked to existing transport networks by a series of loop tracks, shunting passengers constantly around the inner city as far as Mission Bay as well as to northern suburbs across the bridge.

Slick, slim rail design to unclog city routes

"The technology is more closely related to roller coaster systems than to classic rail technology, making it an inexpensive, low-tech option that's easy to build, operate and maintain locally," he says. "To operate in Auckland's infrastructure limitations, the track is planned to be extremely slim, a hybrid between a ground and above ground - around fence height - sections and based on an inline-rail layout."

Mr Neuland came up with the design after doing field research on the city's often-maligned bus and train system. Many people shunned because of its bad image, considering it unreliable, confusing and risky, he says. "The confusing patchwork of individual bus lanes sharing the congested road corridors does not help make public transport more inviting," he says in a report on his design, recently published in the journal of the Railway Interiors Expo in November in Cologne, where he presented his concept.

Slick, slim rail design to unclog city routes

As well as improving transport for commuters, he envisages Slim Ride could also add kudos to the city as a unique transport of mode for tourists. He has been in discussions with Maori artists regarding artwork to give the cabins added character and aesthetic appeal. "Instead of offering a cold, technical and vandal- proof interior, the design creates a 'lounge' atmosphere, clearly differentiating it from Auckland buses' poor image. Research suggests that appealing aesthetic design is less liable to be attacked by hooligans."

Mr Neuland has developed a working model with track layout and chassis configuration, as well as video animation to demonstrate Slim Ride's feasibility, and says it could be adapted to any city. "It could also work as a last-mile system for shopping malls, corporate centres, business parks and university campuses." He hopes his design will provoke debate about the need to improve the city's public transport amid moves to Auckland's Super City structure. He plans to further refine his Slim Ride through consultation with transport engineers with a view to creating a pilot track to test it.

Explore further: Germany working on small driverless trains

More information: Video available

Related Stories

Honda's 'Personal-Neo Urban Transport' Concept

December 3, 2009

The Honda Personal-Neo Urban Transport (P-NUT) design study model demonstrates a futuristic concept for an ultra-compact and sophisticated city coupe, American Honda Motor announced at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Public transport behaviours explained

January 11, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Victoria University graduate Jared Thomas spent many hours riding buses and trains in the greater Wellington region as part of his PhD research.

Vehicle pools for goods

August 13, 2009

Web 2.0 can help companies located in the same region share haulage space when transporting consignments. Pooling benefits the environment, reduces CO2 output and saves costs -- experts put the figure at around 15 percent.

Recommended for you

Samsung to disable Note 7 phones in recall effort

December 9, 2016

Samsung announced Friday it would disable its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in the US market to force remaining owners to stop using the devices, which were recalled for safety reasons.

Swiss unveil stratospheric solar plane

December 7, 2016

Just months after two Swiss pilots completed a historic round-the-world trip in a Sun-powered plane, another Swiss adventurer on Wednesday unveiled a solar plane aimed at reaching the stratosphere.

Solar panels repay their energy 'debt': study

December 6, 2016

The climate-friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

paulthebassguy
not rated yet Mar 12, 2010
This looks so awesome! Although it might be awkward if you are sharing a cabin with a creepy / smelly stranger haha.
I hope that it is eventually designed and implemented. Nice to see some publicity for Massey University too.
poof
not rated yet Mar 12, 2010
I hope the lounge material is semen, urine, and soft-drink resistant.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.