Blog Transportation

Transportation News CW48/2023

Drought, drones and maglevs: These are the transportation news stories I found noteworthy in the last two weeks.

Drought affects Panama Canal

As BBC reports, the ongoing drought in Central America is now affecting shipping through the Panama Canal. At first glance, this is surprising – there should be enough seawater to go around, even in a drought? But the Panama Canal is special – it connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, but in the middle is a freshwater lake, Gatun Lake. Freshwater from Gatun Lake is also needed to fill the giant locks that lift ships as they enter the canal. If there is not enough water, fewer locks can be lifted each day. The number will be reduced from 25 in early November 2023 to only 18 starting in February 2023 (Source: Canal de Panama). In addition, the ships that pass through Gatun Lake will have to be lighter to avoid running aground, further reducing the canal’s capacity. And this reduced capacity, in turn, increases shipping rates worldwide.

Transportation News CW48/2023

This seems to be another surprising way in which climate change is affecting global transportation.

Drones inspect railroad tracks

After storms, floods or other disasters, rail lines can be damaged or blocked. Network operators need to make sure the tracks are clear before service can resume. This is usually done by track workers walking along the railroad. Nowadays, flying drones offer a faster and cheaper way to achieve this goal. The Austrian railway ÖBB has introduced such a drone system together with the company Frequentis. The novelty is that they have obtained permission to fly the drones outside the line of sight of the operators.

Transportation News CW48/2023
Source: Frequentis homepage

Take a look at this video published by ÖBB. It also shows the small hangar for the drones, which protects them from the weather when not in use.

I predict a bright future for this technology, as it saves time and money, and drones are already cheaply available off the shelf.

Maglev for Berlin

As RBB reports, the German capital is planning to introduce a new public transportation system: A maglev train. This would be in addition to the city’s existing bus, tram and subway network. The city council hopes it will be cheaper than building new subway lines, but that remains to be seen. The technology to be used is Transport System Bögl (link to homepage). If the plans come to fruition, it would be the first application of the TSB. The TSB is an offspring of the failed plans for a Transrapid system. I hope to be able to do a feature on the TSB in this blog next year.

Transportation News CW48/2023
Source: Company Homepage of Transport System Bögl

By the way: This would not be the first maglev in Berlin. In the 1980s, another system called M-Bahn operated on a short line with three stations (see Wikipedia). Despite some success, the M-Bahn tracks had to make way for another subway line. Will this time be different?

One reply on “Transportation News CW48/2023”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *