The snake train revisited: a solution to India’s transport nightmare

The snake train idea revisited
I had an idea called the snake train idea which I wrote about in another blog entry. It would be a really wide and long train on which you could do activities like web browsing, reading, shopping, drinking coffee, and more. Multi-tasking is the concept behind this snake train, and its interior would be very roomy and comfortable. The snake train would be over a mile long and would never stop. You just jump on and jump off wherever you need to get on or off. The problem is that you would have to dig up the entire metro to build a train like this. But, India is a unique country that is growing much faster than the rest of the world. Their existing metros are suffocating in overpopulation. India could decide to build some new metros with innovative transportation systems. Planned cities! It is much easier to build on virgin territory than to tear up existing structures while disabling local traffic patterns.

A planned city with a unique train system
There are various ways to build innovative transportation systems in a city. The most important thing to remember is that you need to leave a lot of space for innovation. If you plan a city, have arteries that are far wider than you need. That way you can experiment, and adjust to fluctuating populations. You can also tear up an older idea and build a new idea more easily since you have space. Most urban planners do not think that far ahead, but thinking ahead can save you billions!

Putting the snake train above or below ground?
I wrote a separate article about the snake train, but there are more ways to explore the idea. A wide and long train like the snake train would need to be either below ground so that traffic could pass above it, on ground with bridges for the cars and trucks to pass over it, or on an elevated rail. Such a heavy train would make it expensive to build an elevated rail for. But, we can consider all of the possibilities. For a train to be comfortable to eat, sleep, browse the web, and drink coffee, it would have to be very level, and not too fast.

Boarding considerations for the snake train…

Boarding the train by jumping on
The point of the snake train is that you can jump on or off anywhere. But, to jump on, the train would have to move relatively slowly. A train moving 5 KM/hour would be easy for a young person to jump on and off of. People in Mumbai jump off trains going much faster than that without too many serious injuries. But, to get where you are going, the train would either have to go faster than that and then slow down from time to time for loading and unloading passengers (remember that the snake doesn’t stop).

Boarding the train with a circular device
Or, you could create a huge circular device that is 400 feet wide that the snake would hug around. You could enter the circle from the center, where it would be moving inches per minute and then move outwards in the circle to board the train. Innovative, but very bizarre. That way the train could move around 15 KM/hour without having boarding issues.

Boarding shuttles
Another way to facilitate boarding which is much more interesting is like how people join spacecraft in orbit. You would have a shuttle bring passengers from stations and while in motion, the shuttle would attach to the long snake train. There are various ways to attach that make sense. You could attach from behind and become yet another car in the huge snake train. You could attach to the front of the snake as well. Since the snake is so long, you might have to wait for a very long time to get to the end of it. A more fun idea is to attach to the side of the train to dedicated boarding portal cars. Passengers in the shuttle could be in a sort of container with chairs. The container could be slowly shifted from the shuttle to the train on rollers. Then the shuttle could disconnect and reconnected to another portal for departing passengers and roll on their pre-filled container filled with human traffic.

The predetermined system
A very interesting way to handle snake train traffic is for each car of the train to detach and go to a particular stop. Imagine that you are going to Gandhi-Nagar in the new city of Thirdrabad in Karnataka (sorry, A.P. already used Secundrabad). Let’s say the snake train is weaving through the city and when it gets near Gandhi-Nagar, the first car detaches and exits from the main rail to stop at its destination. At the next destination JP-Nagar, the next car would detach from the train and go where it was going to go. Meanwhile, another car waiting in JP-Nagar would be waiting to attach to the back of the snake train with fresh human cargo. Interesting system! If you are having coffee on a particular car, you might have to walk through car after car after car to get to the one that detaches to go to your station. Lots of walking, but an interesting system.

The stopping system.
Snake trains aren’t supposed to stop, but they could slow down to a near stop. The problem is that the train is so long, that if it stopped, your part of the train could be a mile from the actual escalator to a ground level exit where you actually want to get off. One solution is similar to the predetermined system. You would see a map of the train, and where each car would be at the various stops along the way. The idea is to keep the train going and not stop much or for long. You could walk through the train for up to a mile to be in exactly the right spot for when it stops. Imagine that you wanted to stop at the mall in the Jangli-Maharaj section of town. Each car would have a map of were they would be at the various stops. You would keep walking through the cars until you got to one that stopped near the mall. Imagine how many calories you could burn just getting around.

Advantages of the snake train
India is so populated, that in places like Mumbai, trains come every several minutes. The trains are overly packed. The only solution to this suffocating problem is to have longer trains, double decker trains, or to build more train lines. It is cheaper to have longer trains, except then you would need longer stations as well. Mumbai didn’t think about that long ago when they build their stations. They didn’t anticipate having 25 million humans crammed into overcrowded slums and apartment buildings. If India plans a new planned city like my fictional Thirdrabad, they should plan for overcrowding and have some good solutions for it. Overcrowding might not happen if good planning happens on a national level, but it is good to prepare for it just in case! If Thirdrabad gets too crowded, my recommendation is to start drilling to build Fourthdrabad. Just a thought! India has plenty of available land in the countryside. Instead of cramming people in coastal cities with no available land, using interior land resources makes sense.

Roomy and smooth
Another advantage of the snake train is that regular trains are crowded and jerky. The snake would have endless interior room. Buses are jerky too with rude drivers. The snake would be smooth and comfortable. The idea behind the snake train is that it would be so wonderful that you would take it even when you didn’t need to go anywhere! Food for thought!

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