It’s the year 2222. A baby has just been born in Linlithgow who will go on to become the chief engineer in the Sharship entreprise. War and poverty have finally been eliminated and climate-change has been reversed. People drive futuristic flying cars and everybody has their own snow-mobile.
If you want to go to Glasgow Airport, however, beware as there is still no rail link after over 250 years of campaigning.
One of the reasons why this hasn’t happened yet and why decent public transport is still absent in many cities is….. the gadgetbahn!
I learnt this word a few months ago and I don’t know how I managed to live without it.
I found this excellent definition online:
The word is a portemanteau of the English “Gadget” and the German word “bahn”, which means rail or train. A gadgetbahn is a speculative transportation concept that proposes to solve planning and financial issues via some sort of magical techno-fix, likely some technology that doesn’t even exist yet.
Often, particularly in the US, sensible transport solutions using trains, metros, trams or even the humble bus are often held back by gadgetbahn schemes.
If a scheme talks about loops or pods, you can be certain that it will be a gadetbahn. More so if Elon Musk is involved.
Amongst gadgetbahns are maglevs, monorails, rail-planes, loops, hyperloops and a wide range of autonomous vehicles.
Instead of comparing, say a tramway with a guided busway, national and local authorities often find themselves comparing them with a loop, or hyperloop – untested, uncosted and probably not even fully invented yet.
It might not come to anything, but it will certainly waste time and money. And if it does come to something, it is still likely to be more expensive and less flexible than a conventional rail or bus based solution.
Another characteristic of the gadgetbahn is that it is normally not possible to connect it with any other form of transport. A guided bus can go on a conventional road and a train can link with existing railways and stations.
This isn’t to say that transport shouldn’t evolve, just that proposals put forward should be based on technology that actually exists.
We’ve certainly seen a few gadgetbahn proposals for the Glasgow Airport Rail Link, with proposals for monorails or moving walkways.
I’m hoping that the current proposals for trams to the airport – as part of a bigger tramway scheme – will go ahead, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we hear about autonomous pods or even rail-planes yet!
Thanks to everybody who encouraged me to continue with the blog. I hope that you will enjoy it in English as much as you did in Gaelic.