An Indian Railways engineer recently won the MIT Climate CoLab competition with plans for an elevated “Caterpillar Train” (cTrain) that hints at a new era for mass transit. Ashwani Kumar Upadhyaya’s concept, designed by Jacob Innovations Inc, is a new response to the decades-long question of how to integrate effective mass transit into an urban environment without creating an eyesore or adding to traffic congestion. The arch-supported elevated cTrain concept rose to the top of the 29 submissions in the Transportation category of MIT’s challenge to win the award.
Unlike existing elevated railways, which are often composed of large concrete supports that block out street-level views, the Mini Elevated cTrain concept seeks to minimize the visual impact of urban mass transit. The design concept relies on thin arches that support two levels of cTrain traffic, and the cars are envisioned to be just as tall and wide as they need to be, but no more. The result is a lighter, minimalistic approach to mass transit that has less of a negative impact on the look and feel of the city.
The cTrain concept calls for rail cars that travel on a network of elevated tracks at an average speed of 62 miles per hour. The train infrastructure could be built quickly and at a low cost, by using concrete poles that connect via arches on opposite sides of a sidewalk. That design also improves accessibility, making it easier for commuters to hop on and off the rail cars without clogging up sidewalk traffic for those who are simply walking past.
Upadhyaya presented a paper on his cTrain concept at the 14th World Conference on Transport Research in China last month. Next month, he will join other category winners at the MIT Climate CoLab Crowds & Climate Conference on the MIT campus in Boston. There, he will present the cTrain concept to leaders from businesses, non-profit organizations, governments, and communities around the world.
Images via Jacob Innovations Inc