Now, that was an intensive day!
10am to 10pm, with a short break after the official sessions.
It feels daunting to make a fair summary of all the day's speeches and presentations. Let me phrase out what stayed topmost in my mind.
ULTra was presented in fair detail, and it seems like a wonderful system, indeed (special cleaning vehicles are used for shoveling snow if needed; an issue that always made me wonder on their design). However, the track still looks heavy and the "safety fences" are told to remain there even after construction is done. Not a delight.
Frost & Sullivan had a commercial look into the PRT business. That was interesting. They're estimating it to start booming around 2016-2020, with essential growth already in 2012 (estimated at 30 000 M$ year if I remember right). They split potential customers to various categories, biggest of which were airports, eco cities and tourist destinations (I may be a bit vague on the details here).
Vectus was presented as a "step down from regular rail". At least that was the feeling I received, and the presenter himself had worked in regular rail construction before coming to PRTs. I'm sure there's a market area for it, too, like feeding real train or subway lines. However, I fail to see why I would ride such a 4 person vehicle all by myself. For some reason it feels much bigger than the other two.
Dutch 2GetThere (Robbert Lohmann) presented their Masdar case, which seems far further than I guess most of us expected. It will be (should be) ready by the end of this year! (only one part of the track, but still)
This was the day's last presentation, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one weary at its start. But it was the most energizing one. One could notice the silence and concentration of the audience. Before that, there had been ample presentations of Heathrow, ULTra and one on Vectus. But now, it felt different. These people are all over the work itself, not doing prestudies or safety surveys.
- By its look and measures 2GetThere's Masdar vehicle resembles ULTra
- Designed by Italian car designer (because the customer wanted so)
- Traffic in original ground level; the whole city will be elevated one story up leaving original ground level as "basement". Pedestrian level is above it and no unauthorized access to the basement level is allowed.
- 3-4 lanes wide system, with sniffer modules in the road and "leaking cable" communication from above the vehicles
- 3rd and 4th lane are used for speeding up/slowing down traffic
- rubber tires on concrete (or similar) floor
- li-ion batteries worth 60-70km (recharge in 1h)
- speed 40km/h
The use of a full "level" of transportation allowing for the wide lanes makes this a completely different kind of case as a PRT that would be confined to poles or tunnels. The authorities will use special "emergency mode" to clear the road of pods if needed and the system would be seen to carry as well freight (about 20% of vehicles) as passangers. A curiosity is having two levels of pods; regular and "vip", which would be having more expensive finishing and equipment.
The track layout has no crossings, only loops, and will eventually cover 40-50km and have 50-100 vehicles.
Freight vehicles are based on the same parts as the passanger ones; only tougher. They can carry 2 containers each 800kg in weight.