A better idea than Len Brown's trainset

Heres a better idea than Len Brown’s trainset.

What do you get when you cross a bus with a train? A dual-mode vehicle that has the versatility of a bus, the speed of light rail and fuel economy vastly better than either.

Toyota and its truck-making subsidiary Hino Motors have signed on with Japan Rail Hokkaido to develop the vehicles, which carry 25 people and reportedly burn one-fourth the amount of diesel fuel required by conventional buses. Japan Rail started testing them about 18 months ago, and bringing Toyota aboard could speed up development and commercialization of what may be the mass transit vehicle of the future.

Dual-mode vehicles have four rubber tires for road use and four steel wheels for the rails, and it takes less than 15 seconds to go from road to rail and back again. It drives just like a bus on the road, and a hydraulic system raises the tires and lowers the steel wheels as the driver guides the vehicle onto the tracks.

Run these on localised routes, say for example Ranui and Henderson Valley.  Once finished going around the local loop picking up people as a bus, it goes to local train station and shoots into town on the barely used rail lines. Same out my way in Bucklands Beach and Howick. The bus can tootle around pikcing up passengers then head to Panmure and access the tracks and speed into town.

Have webcams at all bus stops on local routes so its easy to see if peak loading is occurring in one suburb but not another and re-route these buses down the train track to where passengers are.

Much better system to have than dedicated trains that can’t go anywhere except on rail tracks in a city where the vast majority of people don’t live close to a train station. This would eliminate a lot of the traffic jams in the morning and evening traffic.

Some of the major bug bears with existing arrangements is as soon as a bus is in front of traffic on a 2 lane or 1 lane road and decides to pull over for passengers then all the traffic either grinds to a halt, or 1 lane tries to pull around the bus thus causing the other lane to grind to a halt. This happens all the way into the city.

If buses can be got off the roads as soon as possible and onto the rail tracks, it will make the rail more useful, free up roads for people that go to places other than the city, and encourage people to use the public transport more.

Win/Win as far as I can tell, but I guess Mayor Brown would be too stupid to see the possibility.

There is a similar idea in Australia as well. Although this is on a special track they built.

I think this is a much much better solution and probably a hell of a lot cheaper than Len’s multi-billion dollar pipe dream which belongs in the Victorian age.


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  • diabolos

    Pleased to see that tracks still figure … some other thinkers also have ideas …


    I remember studying the work of Plischke in New Zealand – funded by the Welfare State …


    Much of his planning – ie for Naenae and other parts of Wellington etc was never adopted – and we see the result of changed thinking also in Auckland that didnt learn from Plischkes experience. You will see he had socialist leanings and had to leave Germany – he had a Jewish Wife.

  • Jennifer Tooseman

    Why not suggest it to Len? You don’t know how people will respond until you make the suggestion! To save further money, instead of diesel, maybe they could run on “whale-oil”! LOL.

  • Hamish Earl

    Great idea. Probably cheaper. And more versatile. These would be great. Maybe the Auckland Council don’t know about these yet? Maybe Whaleoil could be a driver, don’t all little boys dream of being a train-driver when they grow up? I did!

  • yep. Railways are soooooo last century. Unfortunately I think it will take another hundred years before he realises trains are a colossal waste of money.

  • Yep. Trains are sooooo last century. But I suspect it will take another hundred years before our mayor will realise that.

  • peterwn

    Nothing new here. Meccano Magzine had an article about such rail buses in the 1960’s. If there is potential track congestion, then 3-4 rail buses could couple up, with one driver and 1-2 engines turned off for even greater economy. The last one of the rake should reverse on to the tracks so the ‘train’ is double headed for the return journey. Also helps switching back at Newmarket (in fact essential as the old backshunt siding used by locomotive hauled suburban trains seems to have been removed).