Could the future of high-speed trains be vertical?

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“We see train travel as the future of public transport. Our project itself is set in 2075. The idea was to look to the possible challenges that cities will ultimately face by 2075, and we felt those challenges are population increases, land issues, significant pressures on sustainability,” Christopher Christophi, one of the designers of the Hyper-Speed Vertical Train Hub concept, told CNBC Africa.

“Our project almost looked at challenging those issues, and we felt that if you take the land mass that traditional train stations hold currently, and the impact that they have on cities, our idea was simply to literally just flip that vertically, which will free up a significant amount of land within the city.”

Lucas Mazarrasa, who co-designed the Vertical Train Hub concept, added that the vertical train’s carriage has been re-designed into a cubical shape so that it works in both vertical and horizontal positions, imitating the concept of the Ferris wheel.

“The idea is not to make the same mistake that we did back in the day. You could look at this concept as [an alternative],” Mazarrasa explained.

(READ MORE: Alternative public transport services a growing market in S.Africa)

Another significant difference between current train station designs and that of the Vertical Train Hub is that the tracks themselves will be supported on the side of the train rather than beneath it. That allows for connectivity from the carriage into the tower.

Christophi added that it was essential that the train hub becomes a part of recognisable pieces of infrastructure, as the aim is to create a network of hyper-speed tracks that can link to every city.

Christophi’s and Mazarrasa’s futuristic transport model received an honourable mention at the 2014 eVolo Skyscraper Competition, and has since been receiving positive responses.

South Africa has a narrow-gauge railway lining to allow easier navigation of trains around curves and dips of its escarpment. Building a conventional high-speed train system such as Christophi’s and Mazarrasa’s in the country could therefore prove to be quite costly in accommodating these factors.

(READ MORE: Africa’s transport challenges must be approached holistically)

“We see high speed as the future of public transportation. When you look at issues with fuel, for example, [this] is almost the only alternative to sustainable travel for public transportation. They’re trying to introduce high-speed rail for the UK at the moment, but I think it will encourage economic growth of the cities and the country itself,” said Christophi.