Monday, April 20, 2009

Arrived in London

Descending to the airport, I got the first glimpse of this PRT track that we're about to be shown during the conference. Is THAT it? After looking at the rather beautiful city (no smog this time of the year, or maybe pollution has been decreased) from the air, and trying to grasp the magnitude of it, here's a teeny tiny fenced bridge of concrete. Curves to the left, curves to the right. Looks actually rather hidious, due to the security fences on both sides. I just wish this is not going to be the future of Heathrow!

The first impression was that of a dog farm. The second that of a concentration camp. It's actually not the track, but those fences on both sides of it. Not good.

Outside of the hotel, the signs of climate change are clearly being visible. McDonalds' has palm-like plants on its front lawn, like in California. Cute. But.. this should be rainy England. Maybe it's actually better this way? :)

Edit: here is a video showing the track.

8 comments:

Mr_Grant said...

Are those fences, or _handrails_ that have to be there in the event passengers evacuate the vehicles in an emergency?

Jayhawk said...

That struck me immediately. Is this a temporary or permanent situation?

Mr_Grant said...

I would guess permanent as long as the emergency evac scheme involves people walking on the guideway (at least in the prototype vehicle, the front end has a hatch). I wonder why they didn't use 3-4 thin cables instead of that mesh.

At least no barbed wire on top! That would have really made it look like a concentration camp.

Mr_Grant said...

By the way, you can follow much of the route on Google Street View.

akauppi said...

Today, ULTra said about the fences that they'd hoped to do without but seems they are there for now.

They are for construction work (understandable) but will also remain at least in initial operations since the vehicle has an emergency evacuation plan.

Many of us think it's a bad idea. But BAA (the airport) is safety first, which is of course understandable. Maybe it's for the same reason I'm not allowed to bring small scissors on a trip with me? :P

They had considered different kind of nets, and ended up with the most ugly looking. It prevents i.e. tools from dropping down during construction. Remember that the track goes above a very heavily trafficed road (entrance to Heathrow T5) so one kind of understands this. But for evacuation I think their plan sucks, anyways.

Mr_Grant said...

When do you get to go for a ride? Do you have a video camera?

akauppi said...

People are taken to the track in groups and I plan to go tomorrow. They have to follow a self-imposed safety strategy and this track is not yet ready for trafficing humans. So the nearest we get to do is sit in the vehicle.

They are in "PRT live" mode now, which means workers need to ask permissions before entering the fenced area etc. But I doubt there's actually vehicles moving there yet (and if they are, they are empty).

This sucks less than I thought. What I have heard of people who've driven it, it actually feels rather fast (of course tastes will vary). They wanted to make it a pleasant drive for all ages and backgrounds. Meaning it's immensely smooth experience, and quiet.

One point brought out by BAA (the airport) is the positive attitude of local inhabitants to the PRT progress. Mostly since it will (can) replace noisy busses that traffic the neighborhood day and night.

Bengt Gustafsson said...

According to Martin Lowson of ULTra the initial idea was to use handrails similar to those shown in their animation. To cut cost they skipped this and retained the construction fences. Later this was regretted due to the ugly appearance. This statement was made at the visit before the Podcar City conference, September 2008.

Bengt Gustafsson
CEO, Beamways
www.beamways.com