The Technology In Depth

The three vehicle models, HighRoad, HighRail and Silver Bullet, all use the same basic configuration to attachment to the beam and propulsion. As a result, it is possible to design a single guideway infrastructure which speeds riders to work during the weekdays, moves freight overnight, business travelers to sales meetings in the region that would otherwise require an overnight stay expense or whisks sports fans quickly to their alma mater's game on the weekends at more than 200mph. The key is the elegantly simple shape of the guideway beam.

Key System Features:
»Capacity equals heavy rail systems
»Approximately 1/5th the cost of heavy capacity (aka "heavy rail") systems and less than half that of light capacity rail (aka "light rail") systems
»Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant
»National Fire Protection Association (NFPA-130) and ANSI-130 compliant
»Rapid construction rate (about 5 miles per year per work crew)
»Small footprint allows construction in existing rights of way
»Top-of-guideway emergency walkway throughout entire route
»Ready when the rider is ready (very short wait times)
»Easily integrated into community
»Quiet operation
»"Green" ecologically-friendly electrical fuel source
»Fiscally-sustainable operation costs
»WiFi Internet access on-board
»Live on-board safety surveillance system

The Guideway

The guideway is made of steel-reinforced, pre-cast, pre-stressed and post-tensioned concrete and is constructed as segments in a controlled environment facility. As shown in the figure in end view, the beam allows the drive bogey to attach to the side of the beam. Three surfaces actually serve as bases for steel "rails" for the vehicle, distributing the weight. The vertical upper surface rail (on the inside of the downturned flange) remains the most unaffected by weather and is used for the propulsion wheel surface. The horizontal rail bears the greatest weight atop the large beam base. The vertical rail on the side of the beam base provides counter-pressure balance for the cantilevered vehicle and serves as a friction braking surface. Because of this cantilever configuration, derailment is nearly impossible, unlike other technologies such as light rail or heavy rail. And, all rail surfaces feature QuietRail noise damping substrate technology, making noise levels substantially lower than other system technologies.

Electrical power is delivered underneath the top flange of the beam via copper bars supplying connection to power take-off pantographs. Since the bars are located beneath the flange, they are far more capable of withstanding inclement weather such as snow and ice.

The Vehicle and Drive Units

Each HighRoad and Silver Bullet passenger vehicle operates independently, not in trains, and is designed with individual riders in mind. This eliminates passengers experiencing a long wait for a long train. While trains may serve the masses well, they don't serve the individual's need for quick service. The automated HighRoad vehicles are designed to be available for riders to board within a minute or two of walking into the station. If extremely high system capacity is needed, vehicles can be joined into two-vehicle units and electronically synchronized to accommodate the increased need.

The Silver Bullet, the 214 mph (344 kph) version, is configured for long distance riding comfort and includes airline-like accommodations such as a food galley, restroom/lavatory and attendant.

Each vehicle type is propelled by two independent synchronized drive units. This redundancy feature is just one of many such implementations in the design to ensure maximum reliability of service. The suspension system is designed for maximum rider comfort, providing automated tilting on curves and pneumatically-adjustable shock absorption. Redundant braking systems that virtually eliminate heat buildup (which causes "brake fade" failures) ensure maximum rider safety.

The Stations

The passenger stations are modular pre-cast concrete and are designed to allow for quick construction in any weather and to accommodate future demand growth. Because vehicles are 50' long, stations also can be 50' long, or about the size of a small two-story branch bank rather than the massive length required for train stations. The appearance of the HighRoad station can be changed to blend with existing local architecture, making placement much more acceptable to communities.

Station designs include compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and are designed to maximize patron safety, speed of access to the system and efficient operation and maintenance of the facility. An example is the inclusion of four doors on vehicles and the stations' platforms. This is much greater than what is normally found on mass transit systems and allows patrons to enter and exit far more quickly and easily. Stations can accommodate either an outward boarding platform configuration or a common inboard configuration. Outboard access to the vehicles has the advantage of being able to be constructed above an existing roadway or to allow for an automobile drop-off area below. A common inboard configuration allows for a minimal footprint area for station placement.

Going Deeper...