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(Ars Technica)   Former SpaceX engineers seek to do with rail crossings what they've done with astronomy   (arstechnica.com) divider line
    More: Obvious, Railroad car, Locomotive, Rail transport, Parallel Systems, freight trains, Train, rail fans, Third rail  
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1367 clicks; posted to STEM » on 19 Jan 2022 at 5:54 PM (23 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



29 Comments     (+0 »)
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2022-01-19 4:18:22 PM  
This is a very interesting concept and 500 miles on one charge is about where it becomes somewhat cheaper than trucks. Problem is, existing Class 1 track is not going to provide many options. Shortlines usually deal with bulk cars, not containers. I think these guys are in for a long uphill climb.
 
2022-01-19 4:48:36 PM  
It seems like 20 individual drive units (on a 10 car platoon) is a lot of failure points. One of those goes out and you are blocking the track. I realize they don't need to hitch the cars together, but it seems like the redundancy would be worth it.

Also, it took me a moment to get your point Subby. Yeah, crossing gates going down for 1-off cars is going to be delightful.
 
2022-01-19 5:27:43 PM  
Trains are already pretty crazy efficient. This seems to be going backwards.
 
2022-01-19 5:35:27 PM  
Easier to use automated trucks on interstates drop them off at yards. and then have CDL drivers hook up to them for the final miles
 
2022-01-19 5:58:04 PM  
You know what freight trains need? Tracks. You know the most expensive part of a rail line? Tracks.

They'll probably build a test track between two points in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota and declare the beta a success, then immediately fail when they realize it costs a million dollars a mile anywhere close to where goods normally get shipped.
 
2022-01-19 6:02:58 PM  
They seek to do what Elon has been doing: fleecing investors by lying to them about technology they haven't invented yet.
 
2022-01-19 6:09:51 PM  

Lsherm: You know the most expensive part of a rail line? Tracks.


The most expensive part of a rail line is maintaining the tracks.

Sheesh. They're almost as expensive as roads!
 
2022-01-19 6:10:22 PM  

Lsherm: You know what freight trains need? Tracks. You know the most expensive part of a rail line? Tracks.


Second most expensive. In most cases, the land to put the tracks on is the most expensive part, doubly so because you need a very unusual plot - 30 feet wide by many miles long.
 
2022-01-19 6:11:53 PM  

Old_Chief_Scott: This is a very interesting concept and 500 miles on one charge is about where it becomes somewhat cheaper than trucks. Problem is, existing Class 1 track is not going to provide many options. Shortlines usually deal with bulk cars, not containers. I think these guys are in for a long uphill climb.


Agreed. This would have been much easier to implement 60 years ago when most factories and warehouses had their own rail siding and rail lines were much more equipped to deliver one or two cars to a location rather than bulk.
 
2022-01-19 6:12:18 PM  
I would *love* to see long-haul trucking become a niche rather than the US normal. It's wasteful as fark. Trucks should be the "last mile" part of freight.
 
2022-01-19 6:12:19 PM  

I hereby demand that I be given a Fark account: Lsherm: You know what freight trains need? Tracks. You know the most expensive part of a rail line? Tracks.

Second most expensive. In most cases, the land to put the tracks on is the most expensive part, doubly so because you need a very unusual plot - 30 feet wide by many miles long.


I meant the land AND the tracks. Yes, the steel can cost some money, but not a million dollars a mile.
 
2022-01-19 6:13:05 PM  

Russ1642: They seek to do what Elon has been doing: fleecing investors by lying to them about technology they haven't invented yet.


It's okay, honey. There are no electric cars. No Paypal. No scary reusable rockets. It's okay. It's okay. You'll be okay.
 
2022-01-19 6:19:08 PM  

Bajtaur: It seems like 20 individual drive units (on a 10 car platoon) is a lot of failure points. One of those goes out and you are blocking the track. I realize they don't need to hitch the cars together, but it seems like the redundancy would be worth it.

Also, it took me a moment to get your point Subby. Yeah, crossing gates going down for 1-off cars is going to be delightful.


dont worry, you can use the same failure mode as highways.  when one fails it just pulls off to the side to clear the...
oh wait
 
2022-01-19 6:27:40 PM  

oopsboom: Bajtaur: It seems like 20 individual drive units (on a 10 car platoon) is a lot of failure points. One of those goes out and you are blocking the track. I realize they don't need to hitch the cars together, but it seems like the redundancy would be worth it.

Also, it took me a moment to get your point Subby. Yeah, crossing gates going down for 1-off cars is going to be delightful.

dont worry, you can use the same failure mode as highways.  when one fails it just pulls off to the side to clear the...
oh wait


And you just know that a passenger train will end up colliding with one of these head on at some point because a sensor/camera failed and just kept going. The bigger question is who would be at fault if a Tesla using FSD hits a train with FSD?
 
2022-01-19 6:28:25 PM  

PartTimeBuddha: Lsherm: You know the most expensive part of a rail line? Tracks.

The most expensive part of a rail line is maintaining the tracks.

Sheesh. They're almost as expensive as roads!


World's Worst Railroad Track Compilation
Youtube A2fq575szuk
 
2022-01-19 6:48:02 PM  

PartTimeBuddha: Russ1642: They seek to do what Elon has been doing: fleecing investors by lying to them about technology they haven't invented yet.

It's okay, honey. There are no electric cars. No Paypal. No scary reusable rockets. It's okay. It's okay. You'll be okay.


Exactly. There's nothing. They're going to reinvent rail travel the same way Musk has reinvented the tunnel. LOL.
 
2022-01-19 6:53:35 PM  

Russ1642: Exactly. There's nothing. They're going to reinvent rail travel the same way Musk has reinvented the tunnel. LOL.


You're right babe. You're so right. A few people who used to work at SpaceX won't do anything after they've left SpaceX. You're so right. And wise. Let's drink some tea. It usually soothes you. No need to worry more about some clever folk who might have had a clever idea and who would like to test it out. That's right. You're right. They touched the Musk and all they can accomplish is poison. You're so wise. Drink the tea. It will help.
 
2022-01-19 6:54:13 PM  

iToad: PartTimeBuddha: Lsherm: You know the most expensive part of a rail line? Tracks.

The most expensive part of a rail line is maintaining the tracks.

Sheesh. They're almost as expensive as roads!

[Youtube-video https://www.youtube.com/embed/A2fq575szuk]


Blimey.
 
2022-01-19 7:04:44 PM  
Maybe they start by dealing with the rail choke points... iirc, one of the most used crossing points is in Chicago, and the effect of that one crossing point cascades through the entire US rail system.
 
2022-01-19 7:47:15 PM  

iToad: PartTimeBuddha: Lsherm: You know the most expensive part of a rail line? Tracks.

The most expensive part of a rail line is maintaining the tracks.

Sheesh. They're almost as expensive as roads!

[iFrame https://www.youtube.com/embed/A2fq575szuk?autoplay=1&widget_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fark.com&start=0&enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fark.com&widgetid=1]


That was more like "world's worst telephoto lenses and video speed manipulation"
 
2022-01-19 7:53:31 PM  

Lsherm: You know what freight trains need? Tracks. You know the most expensive part of a rail line? Tracks.

They'll probably build a test track between two points in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota and declare the beta a success, then immediately fail when they realize it costs a million dollars a mile anywhere close to where goods normally get shipped.


Building tracks these day with EPA requirements and NIMBYs and land costs is probably far more difficult and expensive than the days where Uncle Sam just gave the railroads the land for free. Unfortunately, the government will not do the maintenance.
 
2022-01-19 8:12:06 PM  
I was reading about distributed power proposals for intermodal 40-odd years ago. I think the idea then was basically a generator set on every so many cars to provide traction. I don't remember if they were talking electric traction or hydraulic. I'd have to dig around to see if my memory is anywhere near accurate.
 
2022-01-19 9:40:32 PM  

maxheck: I would *love* to see long-haul trucking become a niche rather than the US normal. It's wasteful as fark. Trucks should be the "last mile" part of freight.


Spot on. The only way for our way of life to be more resilient to supply chain problems is to develope diverse methods of delivery. Your food source ie the grocery store is dependent on 2 deliveries of food of day.

I *want* this to succeed. Hell, *I* want one of these thingies. I would love to take the rails for a few miles. Pop a few solar panels on it, out a custom container on jt and you have one dope ass mobile living room with a HELL of a view.

Imagine this thing rolling past you while you sit at a railroad crossing.

Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2022-01-19 10:34:37 PM  

Wine Sipping Elitist: maxheck: I would *love* to see long-haul trucking become a niche rather than the US normal. It's wasteful as fark. Trucks should be the "last mile" part of freight.

Spot on. The only way for our way of life to be more resilient to supply chain problems is to develope diverse methods of delivery. Your food source ie the grocery store is dependent on 2 deliveries of food of day.

I *want* this to succeed. Hell, *I* want one of these thingies. I would love to take the rails for a few miles. Pop a few solar panels on it, out a custom container on jt and you have one dope ass mobile living room with a HELL of a view.

Imagine this thing rolling past you while you sit at a railroad crossing.

[Fark user image image 425x328]


I can just imagine some guy's train-house. As he rolls by, sitting on that couch; he holds up his beer, "toast"...
 
2022-01-20 7:51:28 AM  

Sim Tree: Wine Sipping Elitist: maxheck: I would *love* to see long-haul trucking become a niche rather than the US normal. It's wasteful as fark. Trucks should be the "last mile" part of freight.

Spot on. The only way for our way of life to be more resilient to supply chain problems is to develope diverse methods of delivery. Your food source ie the grocery store is dependent on 2 deliveries of food of day.

I *want* this to succeed. Hell, *I* want one of these thingies. I would love to take the rails for a few miles. Pop a few solar panels on it, out a custom container on jt and you have one dope ass mobile living room with a HELL of a view.

Imagine this thing rolling past you while you sit at a railroad crossing.

[Fark user image image 425x328]

I can just imagine some guy's train-house. As he rolls by, sitting on that couch; he holds up his beer, "toast"...


Fark user imageView Full Size


I had the same vision. Cheers!
 
2022-01-20 8:55:26 AM  
some nice looking vaporware
won't happen but they'll fleece some one for a few bucks
 
2022-01-20 11:35:12 AM  

iToad: PartTimeBuddha: Lsherm: You know the most expensive part of a rail line? Tracks.

The most expensive part of a rail line is maintaining the tracks.

Sheesh. They're almost as expensive as roads!

[Youtube-video https://www.youtube.com/embed/A2fq575szuk]


oooh! I can play that absurd game!

Out of Control Big Rig Trucks Are Causing Horrible Accidents
Youtube VQHu3eDgG8w


now do planes!
 
2022-01-20 1:58:29 PM  
Everybody is aware that train tracks are mostly spoken for already, right?  Its not like you can just get on the interstate and drive until you get there, there is already a crapton of freight moving by rail, but sure, we can add thousands of individual cars without any issues.

also, why are they lifting the cargo 30 feet in the air to place it on the back of a semi?
 
2022-01-20 5:49:46 PM  

SoundOfOneHandWanking: Everybody is aware that train tracks are mostly spoken for already, right?  Its not like you can just get on the interstate and drive until you get there, there is already a crapton of freight moving by rail, but sure, we can add thousands of individual cars without any issues.

also, why are they lifting the cargo 30 feet in the air to place it on the back of a semi?


First, let me honor and respect your username. It must be hard, for you.

But, to answer your question--rather than the puzzle that you as a human pose--it comes down to faster transit. More freight on rails means less freight on roads. Having the freight split to different destinations at node points means better road use for car drivers, lower costs for road maintenance, fewer long haul drivers (and their costs). An autonomous heavy freight backbone would be an absolute boon.
 
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