Gallery: Moving Platforms Could Let Travelers Change Trains While In Mo...


There is nothing worse than having to wait an hour or more for your next train. Luckily, leading British transport designers Priestmangoode have revealed a concept for a high-speed train that would allow passengers to transfer from one connection to another while they are in motion, negating the need to stop at a station.

The concept is called Moving Platforms and is a completely inter-connected rail network of non-stop high-speed trains where passengers could travel around a country without needing to get off a train. The system mimics the way the internet works in that it creates a system similar to the one that allows your home PC to connect to a computer on the other side of the world, via a series of connected networks.

High-speed trains that run on the system would be connected to a line that passes outside towns and cities. A network of local ‘feeder’ trams would then carry passengers from local stops out to meet them. As they near each other, the high-speed train would slow down slightly and the tram would speed up alongside it. The trains would then connect via a docking system allowing passengers to move across services. Once transfers are complete, the trains separate and the high-speed train continues along its route while the tram returns to the city.

The system would not only allow for faster long-distance journey times, but would save on money and resources needed to construct new train stations. The trains would also save vast amounts of energy by forgoing the need to slow down or accelerate. As rail infrastructure is already in place, Moving Platforms would also not take up any more land.

“I can’t believe that across the world we are spending billions on high speed rail making it run on a network that was invented in the 19th Century,” said Paul Priestman of Priestmangoode. “I’m under no illusion that Moving Platforms is a big idea, but if we really want high-speed rail to be successful and change the way we travel, getting people off the roads and reducing the number of short haul flights, it is imperative that the infrastructure we use works with, not against, this new technology to enable a seamless passenger journey from start to destination. The days of the super-hub train station are over, connectivity is the way forward.”

Click here to see the Moving Platforms concept in action.

+ Priestmangoode

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  1. Ken Danizewski September 30, 2012 at 2:12 am

    You say that “The system would not only allow for faster long-distance journey times…”. That’s not true! In fact, reduced travel times would be the principle advantage of this system! The moving platform system would eliminate the need for the intermediate station stops. Intermediate station stops significantly reduce long-distance journey times. For example, a high-speed train traveling between LA and San Francisco might need to make 20 intermediate station stops along the way. If each station stop takes, say, six minutes, that adds two hours to the travel time for this journey. The moving platform system would obviate this delay, thus effectively significantly increasing the effective speed of the trains.

  2. Bantor September 5, 2011 at 11:22 am

    One reason why certain European countries rely more heavily on train travel (such as Switzerland) is space. In a small and densely populated country train travel is a much more space-efficient way of commuting than cars can ever be. If you don’t have the room to build 4-lane highways into every major city, a double-decker train is the only functional alternative.

  3. lazyreader June 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    You can look at schedules for about a dozen different bus companies in the Boston-to-Washington corridor. They collectively operated about 3.4 billion seat miles of travel in the corridor in 2009. This is about the same as Amtrak, but the bus companies reported that they filled a higher percentage of seats than Amtrak; buses move more people than Amtrak in the corridor. In 2011, some 16 different bus companies move about 4.0 billion seat miles in the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak claims about 6 percent of the travel market in the corridor, so buses have about 8 to 9 percent. (Airlines have about 5, with the other 80 percent being automobiles) So for almost no real effort buses have all but usurped Rail as a useful (not to mention cheaper ) means of travel. And the bus companies are not heavily lobbying politicians for money to pay for their initial start up.

    Bus companies also offer classes of service in particularly busy corridors. An ordinary motorcoach (a bus with a large luggage compartment below the seating area) has about 56 seats. Bolt Bus has removed a few seats to give people a little more legroom. Vamoose bus offers a Gold service from New York to Washington that has only 36 seats. The current pinnacle seems to be LimoLiner, whose Boston-to-New York buses have only 28 seats, on-board meals, and movies. This is reminiscent of the old Trailways Golden Eagle service that had hostesses serving coffee and snacks. Intercity bus service has been the nation’s fastest-growing mode of travel, says Joseph Schwieterman of DePaul University. Since 2006, bus ridership has grown almost twice as fast as Amtrak’s.

    The new report finds that various bus companies offer faster, more frequent service at far lower fares than Amtrak in numerous corridors, including New York– Buffalo, New York–Toronto, New York–Raleigh, Washington– Richmond, Raleigh–Charlotte, Chicago–Minneapolis, and Chicago–Indianapolis to name a few. Nationally, buses carry at least three times as many passengers and passenger miles as Amtrak. Yet subsidies to the bus companies are roughly 1 percent of subsidies to Amtrak.

  4. BlueCat June 29, 2011 at 1:43 am


    I am mostly commenting on citing statistics, not really about your argument. But I for the most part agree with you, but I think that high speed rail is a valid source transportation source especially as a replacement for “commuter flights” (ie. between LA and San Francisco or NYC and DC) But I would more than welcome it as a replacement for a lot of domestic flying especially given that flying is the most inefficient method of transit.

    I am curious about your sources for your facts, especially the 88 miles a year ridership for the average american. I am assuming that means the annual passenger miles per one unit of us population (one person). I came up with 19.2 for the US and 488 for the EU for 2007. (latest complete data set)

    Given the us ridership is around 5784 million passenger miles that year and the us population was estimated to be 310,621,157 that would give you 19.2 passenger miles per person in 2007. Now the EU had 241677 million passenger miles (converted from km) and a population estimated at 495,291,925. This gives you 488 passenger miles per person in 2007 for the EU, which would make their quadruple investment for 25 times the ridership seem worth it.

    I do have to say that rail is probably the most efficient way to transport freight. However I am also questioning your statistics on the percentage of freight moved by each for of transport. Overall our freight is 39% rail 29% truck, 0.33% air, 12% water and 20% by pipeline. This gives it a difference of 10% rather than the 20% you suggested. Your statistics for European freight are dead on.

  5. lazyreader June 27, 2011 at 8:27 am

    There is no proof that the high-speed rail would have removed cars from the roads. Rail transit is obsolete. Rail freight makes sense. Mostly they simply prioritized freight as opposed to people. Some others did fail, they failed because they thought they were in the railroad business; they were not, they were in the transportation business (Just like Microsoft is in the software business. If they don’t offer an evolving and lucrative service every few years, we’ll stop buying it and hardware makers will simply look elsewhere) And when planes and cars outperformed trains in speed and convenience respectivley, they just sunk. In America 40 percent of our freight is moved using rail, about 20 percent is moved by trucks. In Europe, less than 17 percent of freight is moved by rail, and 75 percent is moved using trucks because they’ve dedicated so much of their rail to passenger use that they have very little room for freight anymore. So for every car you take off the road, you end up putting a truck on the road. Freight rail is extremely energy efficient when a fifty ton rail car is moving one-hundred tons of cargo around; it’s not very efficient when your moving only three or four tons of people. Europe spends 4 times as much money buying, building and subsidizing rail transit. The average American rides rail 88 miles a year, the average Western European rides the rail 96 miles a year. After quadrupling their investment they’ve only increased ridership compared to Americans by less than 10 percent! In Japan, for every high speed rail, there’s one or more low speed rails that’s more financially competitive to the high speed rail. That low speed rail is more widely used by the vast majority of people including the poor, the elderly, students and people with generally low incomes. People who are disabled, too old, too young, too poor (or otherwise unable to drive) have long been the major users of public transit. Planners attempts to attract middle-class commuters out of their autos by building expensive rail projects have often simply hurt transit-dependent people as fares increase and services are cut back in order to pay for rail construction.

  6. hekardu June 27, 2011 at 1:59 am

    Hard to make happen: the time the doors can stay open is function of both the speed of the trains and the length of the space they can run together.
    What happens if somebody jams the doors? It’s a daily occurrence in any subway.
    It’s safer to re-shuffle the cars instead.

  7. Marko June 23, 2011 at 9:10 am

    it just sounds…. wrong!

  8. lazyreader June 23, 2011 at 8:02 am

    That’s not very convenient to all the passengers if just one person needs to switch trains, to slow the train down is wasting money.

    “I can’t believe that across the world we are spending billions on high speed rail making it run on a network that was invented in the 19th Century,”.

    Passenger Rail in general is a 19th century invention, why are we spending billions on any rail in general. In the state of Utah, they want commuter rail. One commuter-rail line, for example, is expected to attract a 6,100 new transit riders a day, or 3,050 new round trips, for a mere $612 million. At 4 percent interest, that’s enough money to give every one of those new round-trip riders a new Toyota Prius every other year for the next 30 years.

    The real significance is that the budget plan is probably the death blow for Obama’s ambitious plan to spend more than 500 billion dollars extending high-speed rail to most major American cities.

    Rail projects are never truly dead provided rail nuts and rail contractors work together to keep them going. The Florida high-speed rail plan was approved by voters in 2000, rejected by voters in 2004, approved by the governor in 2009, and rejected by a new governor in 2011 when Florida Governor Rick Scott killed the Tampa-Orlando train. With the Florida train dead and California train starved for funds, it is likely that Obama’s high-speed rail legacy will be limited to slightly faster trains in Illinois, North Carolina, and Washington state. These projects offer only slight speed gains over existing Amtrak service. The Washington plan, for example, will spend at least $750 million to increase average Seattle-Portland speeds by 2.7 mph and increase the number of daily round trips from 5 to 7. The Illinois plan spends billions to increase average Chicago-St. Louis speeds by 5.7 mph and increase the daily trips from 5 to 8. State taxpayers will be obligated to subsidize these operations for 20 years or the states could be liable to repay part of the capital grants to the feds. High-speed rail may be dead, but numerous states would be happy to get some of that sweet, sweet federal money. In the Northeast alone the plan calls for spending 117 billion dollars in the 427-mile corridor, for an average cost of nearly 275 million per mile. That’s almost ten times Florida’s projected cost of 30 million per mile and close to three times California’s projected cost of about 95 million per mile. HSR is a waste of time, waste of money and waste of energy…….

  9. Eljeffe June 22, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Interesting, but why not have a transfer car that docks with the front or back of the train? Something like they do with freight, but while in-transit.

  10. captain ticktock June 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Kind of cool, but:
    “As rail infrastructure is already in place, Moving Platforms would also not take up any more land.”

    This is only true for 4-track high speed lines, and maybe not even then, as sharing the moving platform track with other services will be a challenge.
    The moving platform takes up far more land than a conventional platform, depending on the speed of the train at transfer, and the time the transfer takes. Lets say the train slows to a crawl, say 60pmh, and transfer takes 3 minutes, your platform is the width of a train + clearance, and at least 3 miles long. No, no more land at all…

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