First railless train unveiled in Zhuzhou

Zhuzhou: The world's first railless train unveiled in Zhuzhou, Central China's Hunan province. The 30-meter train, with three carriages, a standard bus is part of the intelligent rail express system by the developer, and runs on rubber tires rather than rails. The train can move at a speed of 70 km/h and can carry up to 500 passengers, offering new options for easing modern transport pressures. The train is also powered by electricity and can travel 40km per full charge.

The ART, Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit, was developed by CRRC Zhuzhou Institute Co Ltd, which produces key parts for high-speed railway. The train is about 30 meters long and equipped with sensors that can read the dimensions of roads and plan its own route. It is like having a virtual rail for the train, said Feng Jianghua, Chief Engineer of the Institute.

The train has three carriages with a capacity of 300 people. A five-carriage train can hold as many as 500 passengers. More carriages can be added or removed if needed. Most medium-sized and small cities cannot afford expensive subway systems, or the systems take too long to build. China's latest mode of public transportation is a bus, tram and train rolled into one. Its maker, Chinese rail transit firm CRRC, is calling it a "smart bus," but it's a lot more than that. Like a train, it's modular and carriages can be added on; but like a bus, it runs on the road. Amazingly, the carriage will follow a preset path and won't need a driver — but it won't need tracks to be laid, either. The train is equipped with sensors that'll allow it to follow white-dotted lines on the road.

It costs up to $102 million to build a kilometre of a subway track, as compared to about $2 million for a standard length ART bus, according to a report by Chinese state media Xinhua. The smart bus, or Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART), is touted to be much cheaper than subway or tram systems, since it doesn't require infrastructure to be laid down. This could prove to be the solution for many medium or small cities in China that can't afford to build train lines. According to the government of Zhuzhou city in Hunan province, a 6.5-kilometer ART line will be built through downtown Zhuzhou and operations will start in 2018.

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