Flying train concept unveiled

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© EPFL / TRANSP-OR / LIV / ICOM

Trains that clip to planes. It may sound unbelievable, but it is a genuine concept that has gone on display this week at an aerospace show in Paris.

‘Clip-Air’ has been touted by its developers, Swiss university EPFL, as the future of intermodal travel. Passengers could board a train in London and arrive in New York without leaving their seat.

Train capsules would travel directly to the airport from city centre railway stations where they would then latch onto the underside of a specially-equipped plane.

The aircraft would be capable of supporting three of these capsules, each with around 150 passengers on board.

© EPFL / TRANSP-OR / LIV / ICOM
© EPFL / TRANSP-OR / LIV / ICOM

As well as passenger services, the same concept could be applied to the transportation of freight goods, engineers at EPFL believe.

EPFL has said that Clip-Air’s fuel consumption would also be lower than that of  a conventional aircraft.

Unveiling the concept, head of the Clip-Air project Claudio Leonardi said: “We still have to break down several barriers but we do believe that it is worth to work in such a concept, at odds with current aircraft technology and which can have a huge impact on society.”

A model of the plane, which has been in development since 2009, is on show this week at the International Paris Air Show.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Nothing new under the sun.

    Ever heard of the XC-120 transport plane with removable pod, from almost 60 years ago?

    • Similar concept, but not exactly the same; the Fairchild XC-120’s pod was never meant for transport by rail. Plus, the idea was for military cargo transport, not passenger conveyance.

  2. The concept is really ultra modern,in the sense that it is ahead of time.Will human now henceforth consume more energy for rejuvenating every day humdrum.

  3. What a ridiculous idea. I don’t know which is worse, the impracticality or the expense of it. Obviously thought up by dreamers and spin doctors, not realistic engineers.

    A much better idea would be to be able to check in luggage at city centre stations and then catch a fast dedicated train to the airport. Sounds like BR’s Gatwick Express from 1980’s, now deleted as a concept (well done politicians).

    Heathrow Express is now just a fast expensive train to the airport with a limited local service on the same route and nothing from the north, south or west (tube excepted), and this is after the billion pound terminal 5 has been completed with it’s pathetic rail link (compare with Schiphol or Frankfurt).

    Apart from better rail connections, all that is needed at airports is the knowledge that you can check in and get through security in a guaranteed short time period, be well informed during and before the boarding process, and get your luggage back and be through passport control quickly, particularly for returning nationals or EU citizens.

    Sadly, airport improvement will not happen due to the apathetic attitude of airport management and (again) politicians, whose only interest in public transport is the gravy train.

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