quinta-feira, 21 de junho de 2012

Monotrilho suspenso movido a hélice de avião já foi considerado o futuro do transporte público

O metrô moderno pode ser uma forma perfeitamente funcional de se andar por uma cidade grande, mas é difícil não ficar um pouco desapontado que o Railplane, do inventor George Bennie, não pegou: ele é uma alternativa bem mais emocionante. 

Revelado em 1930, o Railplane tecnicamente não era um monotrilho: ele usava trilhos na parte superior, nos quais ficava pendurado, além dos trilhos abaixo dele. Então “duotrilho” seria uma denominação mais precisa. 

Assim como o metrô, o Railplane foi feito para funcionar longe dos carros nas vias da superfície, mas ele corria acima das ruas e avenidas (em vez de andar no subterrâneo, como o metrô). E à medida que ele se expandisse, a infraestrutura de trilhos poderia ser usada tanto por trens de passageiros, como por trens de carga. 

O aspecto mais especial do Railplane, e o motivo pelo qual ele recebeu este nome, era o uso de uma hélice de avião para se mover. Hoje isso parece uma ideia terrível, porque seria terrivelmente barulhento e perigoso. A hélice está na foto acima. Não viu? É porque ela está girando na ponta do Railplane à velocidade máxima, sem qualquer proteção. 

Então não é surpresa que o criador do Railplane foi à falência em 1937, e seu protótipo de 120m construído em Glasgow (Escócia) foi desmantelado para virar sucata. Felizmente, ele permanece vivo em fotos – veja mais aqui: [The Daily Mail] 




It was meant to highlight the best of British invention, to revolutionise modern travel, like the railways had done a century earlier.

These photographs show the test track built on a wave of optimism in Glasgow in 1930, when inventor George Bennie believed the Railplane - best described as a cross between a monorail and plane - would provide glamorous, bump-free, smokeless travel at 120mph to the masses.

But sadly this journey only ended with one destination: The land of failed dreams and bankruptcy for the man who spent nearly 20 years of his life trying to make the Railplane a reality.

Ready for the debut: The Railplane, pictured four days before it was unveiled to the public on a wave of optimism: The car, suspended from steel girders, was tested on a 120metre-line outside Glasgow - but it never got the investment needed

Up on the rails: The high speed self-propelled system would run along a track suspended from steel girders, above traditional rail lines and reach speeds of 120mph - but this was never tested on the 120metre-length track

George Bennie, 39 years of age when the track was built, dreamed his invention would take on.

He promised plush seating, with the Railplane travelling over the top of traditional rail lines, allowing passengers to move much faster than the slower freight trains, which would be confined to the tracks below and belching their thick smoke into the air.

This was luxury travel at a theoretical top speed of 120mph: A streamlined cigar-shaped carriage with thick carpets and table lamps, and curtained windows providing that luxury feel. Sliding doors - the height of opulence - allowed people on and off the trains at elevated stations.

But 'The George Bennie Airspeed Railway, as it was known, was not destined for greatness. the prototype track never reached further than 120m. The investors never came, and the traditional rail network had such a head-start and reputation that the Railplane could not compete.



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The Railplane was suspended from a rail, and was powered by electric propellers on both ends. Beneath the train, suspended a dozen feet above the ground, were wheels which rested on another rail and helped stablilise the carriage.

Two propellers - one at the front, one at the rear - moved the carriage forward, powered by either electricity of petrol engines. A braking system on the top rail would hold the train still at stations, and the propellers could also be reversed.

On July 8, 1930, the media and special guests were taken for rides. One of the passengers remarked how 'the Railplane operated with perfect smoothness and passengers only knew the car was moving by gazing out of the window at the passing landscape.

'There was no bumping over rails, smoke or whistle shrieking. A ride in the coach is sheer delight.'

At a standstill: The giant propellers, which would give the cars their motion, would hopefully travel at above 100mph - but Bennie could not find investment, and the dream died

Passengers queuing for their debut ride by the sliding doors - believing they were getting a glimpse of the future. Inventor George Bennie is fourth in the queue, in the light-coloured suit

Overground, underground: The carriages look almost like modern Tube systems - except for the luxury carpets and fitted lampstands. Inventor George Bennie stands at the end of the carriage

The train was hailed as a 'wonderful product of British Brains', and lines between Edinburgh and Glasgow were suggested.

But, despite all the positivity, and Bennie's tireless efforts for funding over the course of nearly a decade, no-one came forward and, in 1937, Bennie went bankrupt.

The line stood as a monument to man's ingenuity for another 20 years - until it was finally demolished and sold for scrap in the 1941, to provide war-time metal.

Bennie died in obscurity in 1954 and the Railplane was left rusting in a field. A decade later, it made one final journey - joining the rails at the scrapheap.

Trains below, Railplane above: The dream was there, but sadly this invention did not catch on, and the train and rail ended up on the scrapheap

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