Train Picks Up and Drops Passengers Without Stopping (May, 1932)

Train Picks Up and Drops Passengers Without Stopping

IF RAILROADS generally adopt a plan suggested by Rupert Wales, a Buffalo, N. Y. inventor, passengers on non-stop express trains will be able to get off and on at small wayside stations while the train rushes past at top speed. This feat will be accomplished by the use of a mono-rail transfer car, according to Mr. Wales.

This car is an electrically driven coach running on a mono-rail alongside the track on which the express train runs. The passengers board the transfer car, which accelerates rapidly as the train approaches until the speeds of the two are equal. The monorail car is then automatically clasped to the side of the Pullman, passengers get on and disembark from the train, and when all is in readiness the transfer car disengages itself from the train and slows down, returning to the station under its own power.

  1. Kenneth says: December 18, 20088:24 am

    Yeah. This was a good idea lol.

    Have you seen how pokey people are leaving an airplane? What happens if someone is only halfway through the door when the monorail needs to start braking? Yikes.

  2. Craig G Noble says: December 18, 20083:59 pm

    Sweet Jumpin’ Jeebus. Do inventors actually try to find ways to mangle people?

  3. Chris Radcliff says: December 18, 20084:08 pm

    This was actually proposed again recently, but with the “mono-rail” on top of the train instead of alongside:…

    The same comments about mangling passengers still apply.

  4. Mike says: December 18, 20085:02 pm

    What could possibly go wrong?

  5. Stuart says: December 18, 20088:37 pm

    I love this idea. Would speed up travel time as most time is spent waiting for people to get on and off. You would have 2 of them one ready to go and one just arriving letting people off.

    To stop people from being trapped in doors you only have the doors open once it connected to the train or platform and closed & locked prior to arrival or departure.

  6. davee says: December 19, 20087:32 am

    This was used in the UK between 1858 and 1960, for dropping passengers off at a station. Instead of a separate car, the last coach in a train was uncoupled before a wayside station. It used it’s own brake, and some clever point switching by the signalman…!


  7. Milligan says: October 30, 20098:03 am

    This is essentially how many of the rides at Disney World work, although they use a continuous moving walkway running at the same speed as the passenger cars rather than an enclosed car. I don’t think it would work very well at higher speeds, though.

  8. Don says: October 31, 200910:24 am

    In order for this to work, the side cars would have to function like the aforementioned slip coach. If the cars stayed with the train until the next stop, it would give people plenty of time to embark and disembark the train. The trick is designing a safe way to pick up and drop off the cars.

  9. jayessell says: October 31, 20095:58 pm

    It would work as long as getting on and off the train was automated.
    Have the passengers stand in elevator-like boxes.
    As soon as the transfer car matches speed with the train and docks,
    the passenger boxes are exchanged and the car decouples and brakes.
    On the train, as soon as the newly boarded passengers leave the transfer
    box it is moved to the disembarking position for the next terminal.

    PS: Were the car fail to decouple, the entire train would have to stop.
    ….or be destroyed. Whatever.

  10. happysmoker says: October 31, 20098:12 pm

    Great idea. And you couldn’t mangle passengers if the doors to the transfer car shut well before it started slowing down.

  11. Torontoooooooo says: October 31, 200911:07 pm

    No mangling? Where’s the fun in that?

    Happy Halloween!

  12. Adam says: November 9, 20098:35 pm

    actually, since trains can switch tracks at even high speeds, couldn’t they have it like this:

    1) approaching the station, the train switches onto a track that is essentially a circle going around the station so it just keeps going round and round

    2) The transfer cars are on a similar circular track on the inside of the circle. They pick up speed as the train approaches and will match up with the train at the same speed.

    3) As the passengers embark/disembark, the train and cars are going around at the station in circle. This ensures that, given a problem or some sort of delay, you wouldn’t have that ticking clock problem.

    The problem here is that it partially defeats the point of the fast passenger transfer, but it increases safety and still eliminates the stopping and start up times.


    a jet car that flies to meet the top of the train and lands on it. people transfer, then the car takes off from the top of the train. Any good artists want to take a crack at some concept art? 🙂

  13. Mike says: November 22, 200912:15 am

    Passengers wouldn’t be mangled, the car is connected to the train until the door is closed, then it is detached from the train. The risk occurs if the monorail track runs out before the door is closed. Lets assume that the monorail runs the entire length of the track.

    The issue would be accelerating the transfer car with passengers in it. The acceleration required may be too much for passengers to handle. Deceleration wouldn’t be an issue as time is not an issue.

    The biggest issue is cost, stopping the train would be less expensive who cares if passengers have to wait. Except the passengers

  14. jayessell says: November 22, 20098:46 pm

    #13, see #9.
    The passengers could endure the acceleration and de-acceleration if the
    transfer car seats were modeled after those of roller-coasters!

  15. Mike says: November 22, 200910:03 pm

    What about infants and the elderly?

  16. Floirt says: December 8, 20098:17 pm

    I honestly see no problems with that plan. Since movement is relative, the exchange happens at exactly 0km/h using the train as referential.
    The only problem would be sealing the corridor so air doesn’t leak in while you pass from one to the other.
    And the time window would be much larger than taking a metropolitan.

  17. spuffler says: December 26, 20095:08 am

    Someone will always muck up the timing, every time. Problem is, you have to take a look at all possible ‘what happens if…’ scenarios.

  18. Sean John says: January 18, 20104:19 pm

    Today, I was thinking we should have a maglev to the top of a equatorial mountain where it docks into an already moving spaceship. If we’re all going to have headaches and be afraid then lets have fun doing it.

  19. jayessell says: January 18, 201010:07 pm

    Mt. Kilimanjaro : Yes.
    Maglev train: Almost.
    On its eastern side, build a maglev ramp to launch SCRAMJET/Rocket hybrid
    Two-Stage-to-Orbit shuttles.
    Zero to 500mph: Magnetic propulsion. Altitude: 5 miles.
    500mph to 2000mph: SCRAMjet. Altitude: 20 miles.
    2000mph to 18,000mph. LH/LO Rocket Altitude 200 miles.

    PS: This is hardly about the train of the article.

  20. Jari says: January 19, 20101:27 pm


    I think you meant western side, as the Earth rotates counterclockwice looking from north.

  21. jayessell says: January 19, 20107:44 pm

    Of course I do.


    Where would be the best locations for Space Elevators?

  22. Jari says: January 20, 20103:12 pm

    Let’s see, it must be near equator, preferably as high as possible. Mt. Kilimanjaro is 330km south of the equator and is ~5800m high. then there are several +4000m high peaks in Ecuador, which are exactly at the equator.

    If my trigonometry was right, required tether length is still about 500 meters shorter in case of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Who knew. So Mt. Kilimanjaro wins.

    Of course then there are things like political stability, what would happen, if elevators tether snaps, etc.

  23. garbarhar says: May 10, 201012:32 pm

    “Yeah. This was a good idea lol.
    Have you seen how pokey people are leaving an airplane? What happens if someone is only halfway through the door when the monorail needs to start braking? Yikes.”

    People tend to pay a little more attention when the situation merits.

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