UK based company Mole solutions have developed a concept whereby freight is distributed across a town or city through a network of underground pipes, which are connected to outer city ‘consolidation centres’ with strategically placed inner city nodal points. The freight would travel in electrically powered capsules propelled using magnetic levitation the same technology used on the world’s fastest train, the Shanghai Maglev. Each capsule is capable of carrying two full pallets.
The concept aims to reduce the level of haulage vehicles within busy towns and cities by using underground pipes an alternative method of delivery.
Mole solutions will be testing the viability of their freight pipeline system over a 9 month period in Northampton.
The Northampton based project will begin with research and data gathering on the range and scale of freight movements that currently take place in the town.
Mole Solutions have said “A freight pipeline based system will then be conceived to improve the situation and a comparison of all the relevant parameters carried out to establish the benefits and the economic viability of the proposal.”
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Mole Solutions is the project leader and system integrator, and they will be assisted by specialist contractors such as DHL
(3rd party logistics), Morgan Sindall (tunnelling and pipe construction), Laing O’Rourke (civil engineering), Force Engineering
(capsule propulsion), WGH (capsule and track), SoSustainable (socio – environmental) and local university staff for data gathering and data analysis.
This is a “proof of concept” based project. It is still in the very early days, and Northampton will not be vibrating with the hum of tunnel diggers just yet. However, Mole Solutions believes that the concept has huge potential, and the fact that it has attracted funding from the Department for the Environment, DEFRA
and also has support from the likes of DHL just shows that they are not alone in their view.
According to Mole Solutions “Irrespective of the merits of the final results for the test case, the process established in the project can then be used to assess other locations that have major congestion and pollution problems caused by excess road usage. Mole Solutions are already in negotiation with authorities at other major conurbations who have interest in the Mole Freight Pipeline concept.”
Previous studies have apparently shown that the individual technologies are available and the innovation comes from combining these into a feasible and cost effective, socially acceptable and low environmental impact freight solution.
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