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Government receives first results of Superbus programme


TU Delft today sent the reports with the conclusions of the first phase of the Superbus programme to the Ministry of Economic Affairs. This completes the first phase of the Superbus design. “We demonstrate that Superbus is a global, sustainable public transport alternative”, TU Delft professor Wubbo Ockels comments. “The government should incorporate Superbus in its decisions on numerous infrastructure projects.”

A € 300,000 grant was received last year for the first phase of the Superbus design from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, plus a grant of € 100,000 from the north of the country. The project has delivered an innovative and attractive vehicle design with extremely favourable outcomes in transport value, infrastructure, environmental impact and cost aspects. More than 100 TU Delft students and scientists from various faculties took part in the research. Another one hundred students and experts from the northern knowledge institutes were involved.

“The first phase looked at main aspects including proactive suspension, safety, transport value, the conceptual design and the planning of the subsequent phases”, Ockels continues. “It is interesting that TU Delft will be producing a full-scale demonstration vehicle in the next step, which is expected to be complete in 2008.” Some of the Superbus reports can also be found on the Superbus website:

The Superbus transport system is based on buses able to travel at high speed (150 - 250 km/hour) on dedicated ‘Supertracks’, and at normal speeds on existing roads. The basic idea is for the vehicles to be comfortable, responsive to demand, and capable of near door-to-door transport, so competing with cars and trains. Besides the development of the actual vehicle, the coming years will see effort on a study into dedicated tracks that can be heated geothermically in the winter to prevent them from freezing up. The track surface will then last longer and the tracks will demand less maintenance than ordinary roads. A system for achieving near door-to-door transport will be developed for Superbus, in which users can order transport on Internet, for instance. The system will do its best to bring together people with the same final destination, reducing the number of intermediate stops that Superbus has to make on long journeys.

Besides the development of an experimental model, the Superbus project comprises research into the infrastructure, logistics, safety, reliability and economic efficiency that will be required. The costs of the entire Superbus development programme at the TU Delft are estimated at 7 million euros. A Superbus Innovation group has been set up around the project ( head of the Superbus on the ZZ Link).

A particular focus of the research is a possible practical application. The ZZ Link served as an example. The Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management approved the Superbus as the sixth ZZ Link study variant late in 2005. This step enabled comparison of the Superbus concept with traditional rail alternatives and more advanced forms of transport, such as a high-speed train and a magnetic levitation track, at this early stage of its development.

The studies revealed that the Superbus generates considerably greater transport value than all other public transport alternatives, while involving significantly less expense and environmental burden. The innovative nature of the transport system was also much in evidence. Wubbo Ockels says, “The Superbus clearly has the potential to be a sustainable alternative for countless public transport solutions, worldwide.”

Maarten van der Sanden | alfa
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