Fast Trains

“I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early.”
Yogi Berra

So, what’s the right train?

Specifically, what are the most appropriate specifications for new trains we need to move people about here in the United States? Happily, the world already has some blueprints for success.

With over 50 years of experience and a perfect safety record, Japan has been using high-speed rail for some time. They’ve blazed a trail followed by Europe and later by China. Any new railroad project should consider the Shinkansen. In 2011, I had a look.

I found the Value (sustainable price) of a Japanese train ticket as a function of its trip length, MPH, and seat area (all P-values < 0.001) with a 91.3% adjusted R2. Tripling the distance traveled and speed pushed prices up by 88% and 27%, respectively. The added fare for distance made sense, but the speed change seems low. I used net speed, however, which likely understated the Value of the train going fast when it could.

Interestingly, as seat square area increased 47% from unreserved (A) past reserved (B) and green (C) to gran (D), ticket prices went up 88%.

What is the demand for this service compared to its Value? See the next post for some insights.

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Helicopters are highly versatile machines able to take off and land in tiny areas. They’re perfect for landing on buildings in dense urban areas. But since they beat the air to death with thunderous rotors turned by noisy jet fuel turboshaft engines, they’ve been banned from many a city. What to do?

Let’s go electric.

Nine years since the first manned all-electric helicopter flew,, there’s a race to build versions that can take passengers. With battery energy densities tripling since 2010 and prices falling simultaneously, there’s a vast potential market. Several firms are in it.

Perhaps the one closest to putting an electric rotorcraft up for sale is newcomer Volocopter, with its 2X (in A). It uses 16 motors, one to a rotor, and carries a pilot and one passenger.

Longtime manufacturer Bell offers its Nexus 4EX (B). More capable, it transports four passengers and a pilot. An entirely different configuration, it has four ducted, rotating propellers mounted atop wings.

If flights in these new machines are substitutes for cab rides, given Yellow Cab data for NYC in January 2017 (C & D), which part of the market would you address first?

#innovation #technology #entrepreneurship #travel #business