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If I build a railroad around the edge of a supercontinent, will that kill the oceangoing shipping industry?

Firstly, shipping is generally more efficient for bulk cargoes - such as coal, lumber, ore, etc. (assuming you are using a similar technology to power both the ships and trains - i.e. both steam, or ...
Penguino's user avatar
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48 votes

If I build a railroad around the edge of a supercontinent, will that kill the oceangoing shipping industry?

Will the railroad kill ocean shipping? No, it won't We have a real-world ready-made example showing that ocean shipping and rail shipping can coexist and complement each other. As it happens, we do ...
AlexP's user avatar
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28 votes

Is there any reason a society might use electric boilers and steam engines in their trains rather than electric motors?

For train locomotion, straight-electric is vastly superior to electrically-generated-steam in many circumstances. Electric locomotives are much lighter than comparable steam, making infrastructure ...
user535733's user avatar
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26 votes
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If money were no object, is there an element or alloy that would make for better train tracks than common steel?

10% Gold 90% Platinum I know, it surprised me too. Its the most wear resistant metal alloy known. To quote tires made from it would only lose a single layer of atoms after a mile of constant skidding ...
John's user avatar
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25 votes

Is there any reason a society might use electric boilers and steam engines in their trains rather than electric motors?

Lack of magnetic theory. If you know about electricity but not about electromagnetism, using electricity to drive a heating element makes some sense. Generally, it would be surprising if someone ...
fectin's user avatar
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24 votes

Are steam locomotives more viable than diesel in a post-apocalypse?

Take a trip to your local train museum: To get a good idea about this, go to your local train museum. Here in Minnesota, we have a long history of trains, and I have old train maintenance facilities ...
DWKraus's user avatar
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19 votes

If money were no object, is there an element or alloy that would make for better train tracks than common steel?

So, we can look at the real world to see what goes into a tracks longevity. As expected, there is no easy answer. According to this your standard gravel bed might last 15 years, despite the tracks in ...
ErikHall's user avatar
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18 votes
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Are steam locomotives more viable than diesel in a post-apocalypse?

Depends on how much infrastructure survives: So diesel engines can run on a lot of things: Blue Crude water + electrolysis + CO2 + Fischer-Tropsch process == blue crude. You can run an engine on ...
Ash's user avatar
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18 votes

If I build a railroad around the edge of a supercontinent, will that kill the oceangoing shipping industry?

Airplanes can fly over the desert, and they are fast. They'll be viable for passenger transport and express freight, e.g. airmail. But they'll probably be the most expensive mode of travel, but also ...
Polygnome's user avatar
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18 votes

Renewables on rail, balloons, ships etc.: science fiction or fantasy?

This would only make any sense if the renewable energy plants were extraordinarily expensive. Think about it - you can either have one power station that you transport all over the place, or you can ...
Nuclear Hoagie's user avatar
18 votes
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Is there any reason a society might use electric boilers and steam engines in their trains rather than electric motors?

I only provide this answer because no-one else seems to have covered the point that such things have existed in real life; see Wikipedia page on Electric-Steam Locomotives. The page notes that "...
user85471's user avatar
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17 votes

Is there any reason a society might use electric boilers and steam engines in their trains rather than electric motors?

Nope, no conceivable reason. The conversion losses would be very bad It's not the boiler - that would enjoy 100% efficiency, after all. It's the monkeyworks. Classic steam locomotives run around 4-10%...
Harper - Reinstate Monica's user avatar
16 votes

Renewables on rail, balloons, ships etc.: science fiction or fantasy?

Some quick reasoning for whether this is even theoretically viable using solar: At most, moving around a panel could take it from 0% output to 100% output. Current solar panels are about 25% efficient....
Kaz's user avatar
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15 votes
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Train Engine Size

The selection of rail gauge has only a little to do with the loads that are carried by the train, and more to do with factors such as budget, desired speed and the space available to build the track. ...
Monty Wild's user avatar
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14 votes

Is there any reason a society might use electric boilers and steam engines in their trains rather than electric motors?

Nobody in Your World Has Created a Good Electric Motor Yet Perhaps nobody has invented an electric motor yet, or, if they have, they still have limitations that make them impractical or unsafe to use ...
Kal Madda's user avatar
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14 votes

How much time and distance would a maglev train take to accelerate to the top speed of 700 km/h?

About 27 kilometers over 4 minutes 45 seconds Let's first answer the passenger comfort question. Humans generally feel acceleration, not necessarily velocity. Wikipedia provides that the Shanghai ...
dreamforge's user avatar
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14 votes

Super broad gauge railway vs double wide/multi track railway

If he uses a pair of existing standard gauge tracks as a four-rail single track, he's going to hit a lot of problems: The most obvious is that the spacing between pairs of tracks has been managed for ...
John Dallman's user avatar
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14 votes
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Is there a physical/structural upper-speed-limit to steam locomotives?

For steam locomotives, the limits of speed are affected by mass, friction, aerodynamic drag and power. As stated in the question, the Mallard was the fastest steam locomotive, and it achieved this by ...
Monty Wild's user avatar
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14 votes

Is there a physical/structural upper-speed-limit to steam locomotives?

You have a few assumptions here which are very much based around normalising current infrastructure. There are a few things you might need to reassess. and if there's a physical/structural limit to ...
Graham's user avatar
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12 votes

If I build a railroad around the edge of a supercontinent, will that kill the oceangoing shipping industry?

Ships have a number of advantages here. One is simply cost per ton to be moved. It's cheaper to move freight by water than by land. Second, you have much more flexibility. Your trains are limited by ...
Paul TIKI's user avatar
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12 votes

If money were no object, is there an element or alloy that would make for better train tracks than common steel?

Water. But, to be fair, you would have to replace the trains, too. If money is no impediment, an artificially built, fast-running water channel can be used to transport massive amounts of load with ...
Mermaker's user avatar
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11 votes

If I build a railroad around the edge of a supercontinent, will that kill the oceangoing shipping industry?

Issues limiting the train's ability to take over: It's easier to move objects over water than over land. Your ships will have more flexibility than your train, not having to worry about schedules of ...
Mary's user avatar
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11 votes

How much time and distance would a maglev train take to accelerate to the top speed of 700 km/h?

Maximum comfortable train acceleration doesn't depend on the top speed. So, just look at the data of existing trains for a reference. For example the Shinkansen Another feature of the N700 is that it ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
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10 votes

Are steam locomotives more viable than diesel in a post-apocalypse?

The apocalyptic event in question physically destroyed a large number of cities, and killed most of the human population. If most of the humans are dead, the economics, the society and effort for ...
Anshul Goyal's user avatar
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10 votes

Renewables on rail, balloons, ships etc.: science fiction or fantasy?

A solar panel generates no power at night - spending 50% of it's life doing nothing. If your rail system can move the solar panel so it's always in the sun - while using less than 50% of it's energy ...
sdfgeoff's user avatar
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10 votes

How much time and distance would a maglev train take to accelerate to the top speed of 700 km/h?

All the other answers use totally valid math (I guess). But the passengers in your story are martians. They are used to a 3.72076 m/s2 gravity. How this affect their tolerance to acceleration is ... ...
Madlozoz's user avatar
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9 votes

Train Engine Size

Parallel Tracks History provides you answer with the Schwerer Gustav, an extremely large railway siege cannon used in WWII. As you can see, it runs along parallel tracks. The total width of the ...
elemtilas's user avatar
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8 votes

If I build a railroad around the edge of a supercontinent, will that kill the oceangoing shipping industry?

Seas don't require maintenance Depending on the economics of materials / labor to maintain the rail routes which includes dealing with earthquakes, landslides, plain old accidents like derailments/...
user80551's user avatar
  • 181
8 votes

What environmental conditions would result in Crude oil being far easier to access than coal?

Petroleum has an important property that coal does not: it's a liquid. And when it's kilometers underground, it's under tremendous pressure. If there's pressure from below (as for instance due to ...
Zeiss Ikon's user avatar
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8 votes

Super broad gauge railway vs double wide/multi track railway

Let's think about the physics of rail gauges... The wider the gauge, the shallower the turn radius. The distance between wheel trucks is involved here, but the simple reality is that the wider the ...
JBH's user avatar
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