Tag Archives: transportation

Longest and deepest rail tunnel opens

After 17 years of construction, the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel has opened today in Switzerland.

If you take into account the two main tubes that comprise the Gotthard Base Tunnel and its various shafts, cross passages and access tunnels, it actually has 152 km (94 mi) of tunnels in total. It is also said to have virtually no gradients.

The initial idea for the tunnel was conceived 68 years ago, but the plans were redrawn on a number of occasions. Once construction finally commenced, there were 2,400 workers on site at peak times. Nine workers also lost their lives during the build.

Engineers in the Czech Republic have built a bicycle that can fly.

Engineers in the Czech Republic have built a bicycle that can fly.

The demonstration does beg the question “Why a bike?”. Once those big, knobby tires are lifted off the ground, aren’t they rendered more or less moot? According to the project website, the central concept was to create a flying vehicle that could easily be ridden to a more suitable takeoff site and then be capable of a 3 – 5 minute flight. In order to offset the extra weight added by all the rotors, they could be used to help propel the bike along the ground, besides allowing it to fly.

Video below the fold.
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A family struggles to complete a Knoxville to Nashville trip using an electric car

An exercise in absurdity: A family struggles to complete the 180 mile trip from Knoxville to Nashville using an electric car.

The Blink fast-charge station was on the blink. Efforts to use the two available plugs yielded nothing for Stephen Smith when he and his family arrived in Lebanon in their electric vehicle.

But all was not lost as the Smiths closed in on their destination – a brother’s house only 22 miles away in Antioch. With ten miles of available power left on their car, they could take advantage of a slower charger next to the other at the Blink station at Cracker Barrel. It took about an hour, but the boost gave enough energy for a total of 30 miles.

They also had to pay attention to whether the route was flat or hilly, as any hills significantly reduced their range of about 75 miles. In addition, they found that even that number was unreliable, and that often the maximum range the car could travel was far less.

Even the fast-charge station still needed about 30 minutes to charge up the car. Imagine having to wait 30 minutes every time you needed to fill up, and imagine having to do it every 70 miles.

There is a reason electric cars can’t compete with gasoline, and this journey illustrates it.

Government high speed railroad and elections

The federal government’s very expensive and probably unnecessary project to build a high speed railroad line between two cities in Wisconsin — using stimulus money — is having a significant influence on the elections there. Key quote:

With the U.S. economy in shambles and our national debt strangling the country, it doesn’t bode well for Feingold that he supported the wildly unpopular health-care bill, which [challenger] Johnson wants repealed, as well as last year’s big clunker, the stimulus bill. Feingold’s support for the unfunded and bottomless money pit of [high speed rail] doesn’t appear to be working for him either. If an entrenched insider like Feingold loses, it could have serious ramifications for the future of high-speed rail across the country. [emphasis mine]