Is it a tram, or is it a train, or even a fancy bus? The world’s first electric-powered ‘trackless train’ has been launched in China. Using virtual rail lines on the streets of Zhuzhou, Hunan Province, the new Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) system can travel up to speeds of 43 mph.The new trackless trains are 30 metre long and can carry upto 300 passengers.
China’s CRRC Corporation, which is one of the world’s biggest train manufacturers, started working on the new technology in 2013 and the system is expected to be rolled out to other cities next year. The trains carry up to 300 passengers and the new system is a cheaper and greener alternative than building new train or tram tracks. People’s Daily Online reported 10 minutes of charging can propel the train for 15.5 miles and each train will have a life-span of around 25 years.
After just 10 minutes of charging, the train can travel 25 kilometers (15.5 miles). The invisible railway uses dotted lines painted on the road and three ‘smart trains’ currently have drivers but are expected to be automated in the future. Chief engineer Feng Jianghua explained the train uses hi-tech sensors to judge distances by the millimeter and continually collects travel information as it moves.
The biggest benefit of the new system will be its low cost and Mr Jianghu estimated it would one fifth the price of building physical tramways in China. Three trains are being tested in Zhuzhou and the line will open to the public in Spring next year.