Driving back home along the 400, I realized we could solve pollution and traffic problems at once by adding a tow-line for the left-hand lane in both directions – an electrified rail, which would hook up to automobiles through harnesses, and fire them off at high speeds to major destinations such as Barrie.
Toronto and Barrie would both have terminals where some mechanism connects cars to the rail. The rail drags them, engines off, to the next terminal.
Think of an automatic car wash, but at high speeds.
If the rail gets its electricity from both wind and solar energy, it eliminates smog and traffic congestion too.
Even those of us living in relatively-warm southern Ontario have a problem with winter. Temperatures vary as much as 60 degrees between summer and winter. To address these sorts of local problems, a wing-type roof could be placed above the rail, minimizing the snowfall on both the rail and the roof.
On the roof, or canopy, I would embed solar panels to gather energy for the rail. Along both sides of the highway, I would place a long series of wind turbines dedicated to the propulsion system, but having the secondary purpose of deflecting some of the snow from the road.
I propose this as a test site, a pay-as-you-go type of thing. I don’t think it would make much difference to current traffic flow levels, since the stretch of road I propose to use is usually under some form of construction and almost always congested – except for off-hours late at night.
Obviously, if one test track works, build more. In fact, build a parallel industry to rival the automotive industry. Ontario has the infrastructure, the empty automotive factories and the know-how to build this sort of thing. The economic off-shoots of this sort of enterprise are enormous.
OK, enough with the conviction trip. It just takes a little thought to see that we could have the best of both worlds: our precious status-enhancing vehicles, along with greener pastures and jobs.
Here are some other ideas around the “Auto-Rail.” Why not try to launch and land airplanes via similar systems? It takes huge amounts of energy to lift a jet off the ground. This slingshot effect has been used on aircraft carriers for 60 years. With some research into magnetic levitation technologies it should be possible to launch huge payloads into the air – perhaps even space – all the while saving fuel. The planes could land on the rails and regain some of the energy lost during take-off.
Last but not least: use the moon for something. Put a rail-launch system on the moon, thereby opening up a cheap gateway to the solar system.
Are those enough economic spin-offs?