on demand subterranean high speed transport

Introduction

Imagine wanting to go to Toronto on the spur of the moment to watch the Leafs play the Canadiens that same day. Head to the Montreal terminus, buy the ticket, hop on the transport-car, and off you go, arrive in about 75 minutes, and there you are. Imagine you want to go to Vancouver, are afraid of flying, want to pay the lowest price. Go on line, find the cheapest fare to cross the country by the transport-car, you get a ticket saying you depart the very next night at 11:13PM and the ticket costs you one third of the comparable air fare. Imagine being a transport company like UPS, Purolator or FedEx, you want to move goods on demand, as quick as possible. Fill the provided container in your existing warehouse, take it by truck to the cargo-transport-car terminus, the container goes into the subterranean network and leaves immediately at 450kph to its destination city.

Think of how remote regions of Canada could be helped by having a high speed transport system that would allow an easier flow of goods to the remote region, and an easier flow of people from the remote region. Think of how tourism could change if any point in Canada is less than 10hours away from where you are, if getting from Montreal to Vancouver was only 8 hours but half the price of airfare. From Toronto to St. John's Nfld it would be only 5 hours.

What makes all of this possible?

Overview

Maglev technology promises to be the wave of the future of transportation. Reaching incredibly high speeds on the surface requires constant supervision that no animals, people, or vehicles get in the path of the transport-cars. Boring a hole through the underground, around fifty feet below the surface in cities, and closer to the surface in rural areas, allows us to control access to the transport-car's path. By creating the on-demand method of access, peak times would warrant higher prices, customers could leave without being limited to a time table or schedule, and economy of travel could be attained by travelling during windows of low usage. Powered by its own power system, computer controlled with quadruple backup and failsafe systems, this transport system would be totally reliable, and would serve the purpose of reducing pollution, regional division, and inter-city infrastructure maintenance.

Table of Contents

  1. The Terminus
  2. The Tunnel
  3. The Passenger-Transport-Car (PTC)
  4. The Cargo-Transport-Car (CTC)
  5. The Control Centre
  6. The Ticketing System
  7. Construction
  8. Power Source
  9. Rest Stations

The Terminus

The Terminus that gets built in each city will need to be close to the centre of local transportation hubs. In Montreal, for example, near or part of either Windsor or Central Station. The Terminus is simply the loading place. There will be ticketing machines present for on the spot tickets, and there will be an information desk for anyone who has questions, manned during peak hours of travel, and there will be the loading zone. In the loading zone there will be the same type of security that airports have so that no explosives are carried into the network. All that is required to enter the loading zone is the ticket, somehow protected and encoded. Once the ticket is presented to an electronic reading system, the passenger is passed through the entrance gate, cleared by security, and then gets into the PTC. The PTC is stationed at the top of a vertical tunnel. Once the passenger is loaded and secured, the PTC is lowered in the tunnel, put into the tunnel, and then is already on the way to their destination. If there is more than the number of passengers travelling together that fit in one PTC, each PTC will get loaded from the same docking station one by one, and at the bottom of the vertical tunnel, all of the PTCs will wait in a queue and be joined together before it joins the network. Passengers waiting in the first PTC will be able to see the supplementary PTCs being loaded on their in-car screen.

On arrival at the destination, the PTC ascends the equivalent vertical tunnel, is released in a seperating unloading area, and once the PTC is empty, it moves to the queue that is feeding the departing passengers.

Lots of thought will be placed on handling logistical issues, ensuring that all movement of passengers is swift, efficient, safe, friendly, informative and comfortable. The biggest delay will be in the security check, but once that delay is passed, very little time should pass between passing security and departing the station.

In addition to a passenger terminus as described above, there will be one or more than one cargo termini in any city. Special containers will be designed that work with the CTCs such that any shipping or transport company can lease the CTC container, fill the container and carry it on a flat-bed truck to the nearest cargo terminus. All such containers will need to be pre-ticketed with payment and destination so that when it arrives at the cargo terminus, it can be offloaded and put into the network in a timely manner. The flatbed truck would pull into the cargo terminus, wait in the queue of trucks, once in position a crane will lift the CTC container from the flatbed and onto the CTC, then the CTC will be guided to the vertical tunnel and dropped into the network.

When the CTC arrives at a terminus, each shipping company that uses the subterranean transport system will be assigned a delivery door. Low volume customers will share doors, high volume customers may have more than one assigned door. In the same way that a flatbed truck dropped off the CTC container, a flatbed truck will pick up the CTC container. The truck gets in the queue for the door that it belongs to, once in position the crane will load the container onto the truck, then the truck leaves by the exit door. High speed ceiling supported crane system will ensure a quick loading and turnover of trucks.

High volume shippers will have a prescribed path such that the truck that drops off the CTC container can exit the departure door and go straight into the entrance of the arrival door.

The Tunnel

The Tunnel, also known as the network, is a smooth surface subterranean tunnel that has extremely slight curves and bends. The effect of travelling at super high speed needs to be moderated by having very gentle inclines/declines and curves. An air vacuum system will be implemented to reduce the air pressure in the tunnel allowing less air friction to take place in the tunnel. In low traffic areas to outlying regions, there will be a single pair of tunnels with a service/emergency path seperating them. Each tunnel going in opposite directions. For higher traffic areas, additional pairs of tunnels would be needed, not necessarily all in horizontal line, nor necessarily through the identical geographical path. At each terminus there would be acceleration and deceleration tubes where the transport cars would accelerate to the network speed or decelerate to the stop speed of arriving at a terminus. The rate of acceleration would be closely monitored and controled by the control centre to ensure that transport cars arrive in the network without colliding with another transport car. Once it is on the network, all transport cars travel at the same speed, so if there is a failure in the network, all transport cars would be slowed and stopped. At every half kilometer in the network there is an emergency access point to enter the service/emergency tunnel. At every two or three kilometers, there is a surface access point from the service/emergency tunnel.

At each terminus (whether it be passenger or cargo), there will three sets of queues for transport-cars. First are the collector tubes that feed from each passenger or cargo loading station, all of the collector tubes will eventually merge into one which turns into the acceleration tube. Second are the arrival tubes, where once a transport car decelerates, it will get split out into an arrival tube depending on what type of transport-car it is. If it is a PTC, it will go to any one of the assigned PTC vertical tunnels to get to the arrival stations of the passenger terminus. If it is a CTC, it will go to the specified arrival tube that sends it to the correct arrival station of the cargo-terminus. Third are the queue tubes. This is the place where once a transport-car has arrived and unloaded, it gets into a queue to be loaded again. The collector and arrival tubes are simple tunnels where all transport-cars are handled sequentially. The queue tubes may be more of a cavernous holding station where PTCs that were just unloaded go through a cleaning station, or if needed go through a maintenance station, and then get put back into the queue tube.

The tunnel is lined with the maglev technology which is what drives this whole system. The service/emergency tunnel has a simple low-tech track level with the floor to allow a speedier access to any point in the system.

The Passenger-Transport-Car (PTC)

With respect to economy of design and production, only one type of passenger car will be designed and implemented. Each passenger car will allow for a certain total weight of passenger and luggage. Typical usage will be two passengers seated one in front of the other with a standard medium sized sedan size of trunk space available. The two passengers will be in a relatively reclined position to allow for both passengers to be able to view the view screen. The view screen will allow passengers to watch whatever programming is made available as well as a channel that allows the passenger to see precisely where they are in the network as well as the details of how many kilometers are left, and how much time is left before arriving.

Efforts will be made to ensure the comfort of passengers, providing enough room to alleviate any claustrophic sense (as much as possible) and to ensure that their ride is as smooth as possible. Passengers will be able to control the level of inclination of their seats (within certain parameters), will be able to control the temperature of the PTC (with certain parameters)

The Cargo-Transport-Car (CTC)

The CTC is a shell into which gets deposited a CTC-container. Shaped roughly like a bullet with a diameter slightly smaller than the tunnel, the top half of the bullet opens up and closes with clips or locks or hinges. Once in the cargo terminus and ready for the removal or addition of a CTC-container, the lid of the bullet is opened, the container is deposited (or removed), the lid is replaced, and the CTC goes back into the network. The design of the CTC and the lid make it so that this whole process should be manageable in seconds.

While the shape of the CTC is roughly like a bullet, the CTC-container itself is slightly more regular in shape. The CTC-container will have a flat bottom that is roughly as wide as the radius of the CTC, since the CTC itself needs space for the drive mechanism. On that flat bottom surface are clips that allow the container to be clipped to the CTC, as well as allowing the container to be clipped to the flatbed trucks at the cargo terminus. These clips are engaged or disengaged mechanically, not electronically, by a spring and switch system that is operated by the machinery at the cargo terminus.

CTCs will go through an inspection process for wear and tear and continued usability on a mileage/time basis. Something like every 10,000KM or six months, whichever comes first (actual figures to be defined when usage comes into play).

The Control Centre

There will be one control centre for the whole network, it's location not publicized, seperate from whatever administrative offices are deemed necessary. In the control centre the computer system resides that controls the whole network. This computer system will be responsible for managing traffic, controlling the acceleration and deceleration tubes, handle ticketing for both passengers and cargo, have emergency systems built in place, and generally manage all movement with respect to transport-cars. Since the whole system is computer controlled, there is little need of human involvement, but there will be at least two people at the control centre for every minute that exists. Testing of all staff will take place on regular intervals so that if any emergency situation comes up, they are trained for it. Since an emergency may not ever come at all, if one does come up three years past the 'live-date', it will be critical that people in the control centre are prepared for whatever contingencies may come up.

The software itself will be designed and written with the utmost sense of simplicity required. The simpler the code, the less likely there will be any problems with it. Thorough simulator testing will take place as the tunnels are being constructed, so that by the time the smallest part of the nework (Montreal to Toronto) is complete, the computer system will be ready.

The control centre itself will be a single operating room where a large wall panel will show the system in its entirety, with colors on different parts of the network describing the traffic volume. The two (or more) people on staff will be responsible for monitoring the network, and responding if an emergency comes up. This is their sole responsibility.

The control centre will be located in some rural region where cost of living is low so that salary for control centre employees can be commensurate with responsibility, education, training and cost of living.

The Ticketing System

A website will be the primary ticket aquisition method. A simple three step web-process where step 1 identifies the departure and arrival cities as well as dates and times, step 2 identifies client information including number of clients, billing address and so on, step 3 is payment information. In step 3 the client will be asked to key in a pin code (and to confirm it by keying it in again). The five digit pin code is the key that needs to match the printout of the ticket. At the end of step 3, the client will have a printout that has a barcode on it, when they get to the station, a scanner will read the bar code, then they will be prompted to key in their pin code, so long as the two match, the client can pass through the gates and go to the security check.

There will also be electronic kiosks at each station that will allow customers to buy tickets on the spot, basically an interface to the same website that is available on the internet.

Travel agents will be permitted to sell tickets (using a travel agent login at the website) where they can receive a commission on the sales. The commission level will be based on their total dollars sold in a month, up to a maximum, non-cumulative. The travel agent could give a part of their commission to the customer as a rebate, that is a decision that the travel agent will make.

Passengers who order tickets with a duration of four hours or more will be permitted one stop at anytime during their trip for a limited duration. If they choose one of a handful of underground rest stations built by the company, they can leave their belongings in the PTC, get out of the transport-car and have a restroom and/or snack break. If the passenger chooses to make their one stop at a city station, they will be required to take their belongings with them, get out of the PTC, and then go through security and get into a new PTC.

Construction

There are tunnel boring machines that are available for sale at the TBM Exchange website. The design would be to have one large tunnel produced by a single TBM pass where on each side of the large tunnel are two pipelines installed, each pipe carrying the tunnels for the transport cars, with space between the pipelines that is the emergency/maintenance area. This would satisfy the under-city areas where we need to avoid all surface level buildings, and sub-surface level infrastructure. Between the centre of the city where terminus is and the outer subarb where the rural region starts, the tunnel is on a very gradual incline such that once the tunnel hits the rural area, it is within 12 feet of the surface. From that point going forward until the next outer limit of a city, the tunnel will be dug as a trench, at a depth of 12 feet. The tunnel in the trench will have a flat bottom (no longer the circle produced by a TBM), and will be eight feet high, above the tunnel ceiling the trench will be filled in such that the tunnel is still subterranean.

Since the TBM's only move on average 100feet per day working all twenty-four hours, running these machines to cross the country becomes too expensive in terms of time. Using regular machines to dig the 12 foot deep ditch across the country will prove much faster and less costly. As an example, a 50km stretch of TBM tunnel would take around five years. This would be on the Montreal side, on the Toronto side an 80km stretch of TBM tunnel would take about 7.5 years. The remaining distance between the two subsurface points would be done with the number of teams of back-ho equipment required to complete the entire passage in 7.5 years (the maximum amount of time it will take the TBM's to work). As the tunnels are being formed, there are teams that follow them that installing the maglev track and the finishing of the tunnel such that within a few months of the completion of excavation, the tunnel should be operational.

It will be challenging to do, but the TBM's will have to be buried in the center of the city fifty feet below the surface and then dig their way away from the city centre. This will allow construction of the terminus while the rest of the tunnel is being produced. The deep hole that is produced by inserting the TBM may end up being the vertical tunnel that is used to move transport cars down.

The reason for doing Montreal to Toronto first is so that there is a revenue stream to help fund the building of the network to other areas.

The network, acceleration and deceleration tubes, collector, arrival and queue tubes are all created by the tunnel boring machine while the vertical tunnel is dug using typical mine-shaft methods. The maintenance area will be somewhere in an outer subarb near to or at the surface so that needed parts can be brought in easily, so that employees can work where natural light is possible, and so that new transport-cars delivered by manufacturers can be put into the network.

Power Source

Since this network will cross Canada, it will be going under various parts of the country where there is absolutely no population, other parts where there is very rural population. The company will acquire parts of land throughout the country where land is inexpensive and contruct passive energy acquisition systems. In the prairies where the sky is clear for too many days in the year for farming, large solar farms will be constructed. Anywhere across Canada that the population is low, if a place is found that is perptually windy due to the local geography, large windmills will be installed. Whatever power conversion equipment is necessary to feed the maglev system undergound will be situated on the surface at these power generating stations. Since there will be many more than just one power generating station, if any one of them fails, the whole system will not fail. As part of the mission statement of this company, all power used by the system will be renewable. Also as part of the mission statement, built into the design of the whole system will be measures to make it such that power consumption is at the most minimum possible. This includes ensuring that the control centre has windows and skylights so that during daylight hours, no lights in the control centre are necessary. This includes not having any led lights indicating power status on any devices, which drains away electricity when the device is not turned on.

Rest Stations

For passengers who travel great distances, there will be a small number of rest stations that exist at strategic points across Canada. Each rest station will exist under an existing town of a minimum size so that employees and supplies can be easily provided to the rest station underground. As an example, St. John NB may have a city station but may also have a separate rest station that is only accessible by passengers from the network. This would provide passengers travelling from Newfoundland the possibility of getting out and stretching their legs. Simlarly, a rest station beneath Thunder Bay, Ontario and another that sits side by side with the city station in Regina. At each rest station there is a 'parking area' for PTCs, where depending on time of day and projected traffic, each PTC is given a suggested maximum rest time so as to provide room for future potential rest stops of other PTCs. All rest stations will be designed with the local region in mind, but all will have the same basic layout. Washrooms, Tim Hortons, Exercise place for children, tables and chairs, arcade for teenagers, etc.

Employees will come through an employee elevator that takes employees from the surface to the rest station. Schedule of employees will be based on scheduled and projected traffic, peak periods having the maximum number of employees needed, quiet times having skeleton staff, open 24 hours.