The German transport technology website Urban Transport Magazine published an article entitled «Is SkyWay the New Dubai Transport System?», in which it explored the prospects for including SkyWay in Dubai’s infrastructure.
«Dubai, with a population of over 3 million, is the largest metropolitan area of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Its public transport fleet already consists of light and bus transport, subway and monorail. It is quite likely that Dubai will have the fifth transportation system in the future».
As the edition highlights, the technology is fairly mature in terms of its elaboration. The German journalists paid special attention to economic indicators and safety of SkyWay.
«This technology is quite mature in terms of its mechanics. [ … ] SkyWay states that its small transport units with a capacity from 1 to 168 people can move safely at intervals of just 2 seconds, thus providing a capacity of up to 50,000 passengers per hour. [… ] SkyWay demonstrates the feasibility of its system through various technical studies and testing of the model in a wind tunnel at 500 km/h, as well as operational tests with prototypes in their original dimensions. At the same time, investment and operating costs will be significantly lower than other innovative and traditional solutions such as Hyperloop or conventional railways.»
There were also some criticizing notes about the project in the article. At the end of the article, the author described a few «unresolved problems» to his mind, which, he believes, should be addressed.
Shorty intervals between transport modules.
«However, as for the practical implementation of the SkyWay system for Dubai, there arise a few more questions here. It was reported that the interval between the vehicles would be 2 seconds with an average estimated stoppage time of at least 10 seconds. This means that the stations should be with long platforms. On the other hand, if larger vehicles, such as the SkyWay triple-module unibus for 18 passengers are used, as shown at InnoTrans 2018, it will take a little longer, about 20 minutes, – for the train to stop at the station.»
To make it illustrative, we will answer this question on the example of a car. The interval between the vehicles which drive on the highway, often does not exceed 70 meters; at a speed of 120 km/h, this distance will be covered in 2.1 seconds.
The 2-second interval (70 meters) is also recommended in many countries, including the U.S. and the European Union. It is believed that this time is enough for the driver to react to an emergency situation and make a decision. For vehicles equipped with machine vision, this interval can be reduced even to 0.2 seconds.
In the description of the technology, we are talking about this very interval. Several vehicles, the number of which may vary, move in a virtual coupling at 2-second intervals. But the interval of movement between such virtual trains can be 20 seconds.
At the exit from the overpass to the boarding and disembarkation station, it is not only one module that turns, but also all the vehicles, assembled in the virtual coupling. For leaving the station and accelerating to the speed of the flow, 20 seconds – is more than enough. A vehicle, entering an autobahn traffic flow, spends less time on it.
As for conditioning and stations’ design.
«The documents presented so far, show that there are no platform sliding doors between the vehicle and the station platforms, compared to the light rail system supplied by Alstom, where all stops are air-conditioned and therefore, equipped with platform sliding doors. Without adequate protection, the passenger would have got out of the SkyWay air-conditioned vehicles directly into the desert heat. Of course, the application of this system in Dubai will require a lot of further development and adaptation.»
Naturally, in the presentation, which formed the basis of this article, there are no doors to the platform. It’s a presentation of the Skyway high-speed unibus, and it’s far from being the freshest one, and has nothing to do with the UAE project.
What concerns the construction of stations, they are designed according to the climatic conditions in which the object is located. Paddington, King’s Cross – are indoor stations in the UK, and they have no end walls either. Here is a simpler solution: the entrance to the station remains open, and the auxiliary premises, waiting room, ticket offices, can be either freely accessible to the platform or separated from the platform for passengers’ boarding and disembarkation.
The problems, listed by the author, are caused by misunderstanding and not by any defects. But we can’t disagree with the main statement of the article:
«This technology is quite mature in terms of its mechanics».