Sunday, December 5, 2010

Planes, trains, and... well just planes and trains.

from Looking Glass: I look through the perspex at the train, watch it spread apart, the microwave links providing power and communications between cars little inconvenienced by the doubling of their transmission range. I can see the T1 itself, the big fission reactor on wheels, as it goes into a turn to arc around the switchyard. A light jolt and a flicker of the lights in the car tell me the fork is complete. I watch the train streak away, only a few cars diverging from it to join up with the car I’m in as we turn away from the main line and hit the brakes, decelerating toward the station, the g-forces pulling me against my seat belt a bit at first, easing down as we slow. Not so different from a jet landing in the old days, and much more gentle than a suborbital reentry, or so I’m told. Safer than both. There are almost always survivors in a train wreck.

Two items talking about my fictional trains.
First, this about the Chinese train that now holds the world speed record for a passenger train. According to China's Xinhua news agency, the CRH380 train hit 416.6kph, about 299mph. That's slightly more than half the speed of my fictional trains, which clocked in at 800kph - 497mph or so - the cruising speed of a jet liner. But those numbers were just for my convenience, to make Looking Glass' aggressive story timeline work. But realistically? I think 416kph is plenty fast. That would be Denver to Emeryville (San Francisco Bay Area) in just shy of 6 hours. Now the airline flight is 2 hours and 37 minutes flight time. Add two hours ahead of time for security theater in the airport, and that 6 hour train ride starts seeming pretty darn reasonable.

Second, is this photo of the Pennsylvania Railroad's first T1 locomotive, from whence I took the name and inspiration. I don't think it's too difficult to morph the Chinese train's locomotive and this old streamlined steam engine together into a coherent locomotive, personally. My T1s would lack the enormous side-rods and drivers, of course, since they are essentially a nuclear-electric power plant on wheels and most of the motive force for the train comes from motors in the cars. But still, the problems of accelerating a large volume of hot water persist, and I think my T1s wouldn't be too different from this.

Must resist temptation to try and 3d-model it. :)


No comments:

Blog Archive