If Ashwani Kumar Upadhyaya, an Indian Railways engineer had his way, then "caterpillar trains" would actually be a reality!
How about a train that plies overhead, rather than on the ground? If Ashwani Kumar Upadhyaya, an Indian Railways engineer had his way, then “caterpillar trains” would actually be a reality! Upadhyaya has recently won a competition on innovation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). What Upadhyaya has envisaged is a network of elevated train coaches, that are lightweight, and can run at speeds of up to 100 kmph. These caterpillar trains would be supported by poles that are bent into arches. The idea is to provide connectivity to residential areas as well. Upadhyaya, aged 43, is a 1997-batch officer of the Indian Railway Traffic Service. Having won the competition, he will now present his idea to academicians and town planners in September at a global conference at MIT. Upadhyaya won the competition after he was adjudged the best both in judges’ choice and popular categories. Emil Jacob is Upadhyaya’s fellow PHD scholar at MIT and his collaborator for the project.
Talking to the Indian Express about his achievement, Upadhyaya said that the strength of his concept is its simplicity and its practicability. “Some ideas are very good on paper, but not practicable. I guess we won because ours was both,” he said. The caterpillar train will have small cars that can seat up to 20 people. It would be “as high as an SUV”. The coaches have been thought of in a manner that they will boast of wheels both at the top and the bottom. This would allow the train to ply both on the track and under it.
The system is meant to run on electricity and with the train’s coaches being small and lightweight, the system is capable of going through residential areas. Explaining about the stations, Upadhyaya said that each passenger can opt for a station of his/her choice by clicking on a console in the train. The stations would be designed as simple platforms that can be accessed by elevators. The coaches have been designed only for sitting, so that the total weight of the coach can be contained within specified limits. The plan is to stack coaches on top of each other, ensuring that less land is required for the entire transport system, as compared to metro or bus depots. Upadhyaya has called his innovative system the ‘internet of urban transport’.