Ambitious plans have been revealed to revive a 43-year-old project and create a hydrogen (H2)-powered monorail – and the first prototype is set to be tested in 2020.

First dreamed of by French Engineer Jean Bertin in 1975, a Paris start-up company has now decided to embark on the project and make Bertin’s Aérotrain a reality.

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Source: Spacetrain

Jacques Vaucanson - a start-up specialised in the research and development of autonomous robotic systems for the aeronautical, space, maritime, medicial, pharmaceutical and petroleum industries - aims to realise the train of the future, called SpaceTrain, in just 36 months.

“The objective is to realise in 36 months an interurban shuttle able to theoretically reach subsonic speeds. The 18km Aérotrain experimental line, located between Saran and Ruan in the Loiret, which has been abandoned for 40 years, could accommodate the project,” Jacques Vaucanson said.

What will it look like?

The SpaceTrain is an air cushion-guided ground effect vehicle on an inverted T-track measuring 3.40m wide and 90cm high. Entirely designed in Class A carbon fiber, the studied design is particularly aerodynamic to reduce the effects of air friction.

The prototype vehicle will be able to carry 20 to 40 passengers, in a pressurised and secure cabin. The company is also working on a commercial shuttle that can carry 130 passengers.

The goal is to reach the speed of 540km/h with a maximum speed of 720km/h.

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Source: Spacetrain

“The shuttle is fully automated and about twenty air cushions enclose the vertical rail and guide the vehicle and twenty others arranged at the base of the vehicle ensure its sustention’s. These air cushions are powered by horns, the flow of which is supplied with energy by motor-fans, H2 fuel cells and axial compressors.”

“High capacity compressed air tanks optimise the system. The system has an acoustic coating that reduces nuisance for passengers and residents. Computer-controlled guidance is provided by vertical air cushions and magnetic system in the curves.”

“Propulsion is ensured a H2 fuel cell system and electric induction motors. The axis of the main motor is horizontal. A profiled pod groups the passage of controls and controls of the turbine, the supply of H2, thermodynamic measuring lines and extinguishing ducts,” the company explained.

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Source: Spacetrain

The project currently has 12 engineers working on it and this is expected to increase to 30 engineers and technicians.

The company has identified hundreds of intercity connections worldwide and has already created a subsidiary in the United States to compete with various projects underway. Another subsidiary in Australia has also been formed. The company is already present in Germany, Morocco and Tokyo.