Skip to comments.Tomorrowland meets Texas - Futuristic freight system planned for I-35 corridor
Posted on 06/06/2012 2:44:37 PM PDT by Zakeet
Freight normally hauled by trucks could one day soon be shipped on an electric-powered, overhead guideway across Texas. It may seem like an idea more suitable for Tomorrowland and artist renderings of the project do resemble Disneys famed monorail system but Texas officials are encouraging a privately-funded business to get the project up and running, perhaps within six years.
[The developers] have formed Freight Shuttle International, a company that is cobbling together the estimated $2.5 billion needed to build the first leg of this futuristic transportation system. The guideways would be built within the existing right-of-way of Interstate 35, initially stretching about 250 miles from San Antonio to Waxahachie but eventually extending north through Dallas-Fort Worth, and south to the Mexican border. Ultimately, Freight Shuttle guideways could be built on more than 2,000 miles of highway right-of-way across the state, he said.
The system would haul cargo of various sizes, packed in both intermodal containers and freight trailers. Terminals would be built at each end of the route, so that trucks could load and off-load their goods onto the Freight Shuttle guideways. The shipments would be placed on unmanned transporters powered by linear induction motors using electricity and a magnetic field. They would glide on steel wheels across the guideways at about 60 mph, Roop told members of the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition during a meeting Wednesday in Fort Worth.
Shippers would be able to get their goods across the state for pennies on the dollar compared to what it costs to haul freight in tractor-trailers, said Ken Allen, a retired logistics executive for grocery giant H-E-B Stores and chief executive officer of Freight Shuttle Internationals operations unit.
(Excerpt) Read more at blogs.star-telegram.com ...
This will never work because it relies on the private sector rather than government handouts!
They’d be better off to build a canal.
LOL, let's the accounting on that. More like hundreds of pennies
We already have that.. its called “TRAINS”...
Like in choo choo trains..
the canal/barge system has been a reliable transportation system all over the world for hundreds of years..
Teamsters and other union thugs - hardest hit
Takes too much land compared to elevated (unipost) tracks.
I'm all for alleviating the traffic problems on I-35, but this would need some heavy-duty safeguards.
Water transport is still the cheapest per ton mile.
“Theyd be better off to build a canal.”
Wouldn’t it be pretty hard to elevate all that water?
What Texan could possibly argue with installing a full-length shade cover over I-35? LOL
If they had enough traffic, it wouldn’t take much water.
For just dollars on the dollar.
They have barges that go 60 miles an hour?
And how many sets of locks over that 250-mile stretch between Dallas and Austin? I-35 climbs higher above sea level as you head north.
Not hard in a technical sense, just expensive to build and time-consuming to use. Canal locks don't exactly make for speedy transport.
Still, it does seem a little wacky. Sending freight one car at a time along electric rails? A conventional train might move a lot more stuff with less energy consumption in a reasonable period if there's no urgency. If there is urgency, we have other ways to get the goods where they have to go.
Instead of locks they could have those conveyor belts like they do at Amusement Park boat rides.
Easy fix. Just subject every container crossing the border to a high X-ray/Gamma Flux sterilizer. To kill the cucarachas, don’t ya know.
Think of it as a big bug trap: Illegals check in, but they don’t check out. . . .
Sounds similiar to the NAFTA SuperHighway that open border RINOs like Medved keep trying to tell us is a figment of our imagination.
If it can get these slow poke trucks off the road, then I say build it.
This is also Texas:
Get T-Boone to build windmills to do the pumping.
Salt water pumping stations?
I'd guess that infrastructure cost is no object with this proposal.
This isn’t another segment of the Trans Texas Tollway, is it?
Believe it or not, I know some of the guys behind this thing.
The conception is correct, but the idea is that unlike a conventional train which either must stop at every station along the way if only to unload one container or it stops at very distant depots requiring the containers to then be trucked back to whereever from the depot, the system would automatically route containers to the nearest station for someone to haul away. Said stations could be relatively small and one could be in every town along the route. Alternately, if an outfit like FedEx or UPS or USPS (something like a third of I-35 traffic is trucks hauling mail and packages) wants, they can have branch lines run to their facilities easily and cheaply compared to conventional rail.
The last version of the proposal I saw had the tractor on the rail car with the trailer. This meant that the truck could drive away with its load as soon as it got to the station.
If you started up near Dallas and dug straight down about 500 feet, you could then proceed at that same depth toward the Gulf Coast (stopping by Austin first and then over past Houston).
Of course, you'd have to pave the entire length of the thing to keep that arid land from sucking the channel dry at anything less than high tide. And you'd have to put some big-ass flood gates in at the mouth of the thing, lest several inland Texas cities end up getting hurricane storm surge. :-)
It would sure put the "Big Dig" to shame. But talk about your shovel-ready jobs!
If it runs per what my friends say, it costs less to build per mile than adding another lane to 35 - and we desperately need to do something to improve the throughput of 35.
If someone thinks this will make them rich, as long as it is funded by private investors and not the government, then I say go for it!
Trains — including variants, such as the one proposed in the article, make a lot of sense for moving freight over long distances. Containerization makes it easy to switch modes for local pick up and delivery.
High-speed passenger rail seldom makes sense. Rail freight almost always makes sense.
Here’s one (of many) references to back up my claim (in post # 38) that heavy trucks cause thousands of times more wear and tear on highway infrastructure than automobiles:
The thing is that you’ll never get trucks off the road unless you find a means of transporting goods to each individual retailer from the freight hubs. As it is now I think the average radius each freight rail hub covers is around 500 miles by truck.
Why not just build a normal railroad track with no crossings? A lot cheaper!
Why not just build a normal railroad track with no crossings? A lot cheaper!
Considering the fact that the trucks carry the products we buy, I’d say that we’re at least partially responsible for damage done to the roads. If we want to stop buying things we can ease the wear and tear.
It isn’t necessary to get all trucks off the road — it’s a matter of taking off as many as makes economic sense to do so.
That’s why I added the bit about switching modes. New hubs can be added, the distance between them doesn’t need to remain at 500 miles. That likely reflects the economics of older intermodal technologies — the point where it becomes economic to go multi-modal. If containers can be switched rapidly and cheaply (which new technologies do allow), then the break-even distance between trucking only, and multi-modal drops.
In thinking about this it could function much like a ski chair lift. The next problem would be to devise the terminal at each to load and unload the shipping containers at an efficient pace of production...
You do realize you’ve created a false dilemma? We can continue to use trucks when it makes sense to do so. If multi-modial solutions are used when economic (rail, barge, or ship), then we will have reduced wear and tear on the infrastructure, and saved shipping costs. Now, we can use those tax savings, and freight savings to buy more of what we actually want.
Not enough stimulus.
Note that the Milwaukee RR took out their well engineered, electrified rail operations in MT/ID/WA in the 1970's.
Rail operations at the ends of some coal operations have continuous load/dump loops.
It doesn’t matter. Here in the real world things are the way they are.
A truck loosely based on this idea could let cars pass beneath, doubling lane capacity.