Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Bennie Railplane display – Kelvingrove

Digging into the ‘cold weather archive’ again, I came across the display for Bennie’s Railplane which can be found in Kelvingrove.

The panel (click for bigger) gives enough details for anyone who is unfamiliar, but that’s not what I have in mind.

Bennie Railplane Description Kelvingrove

Bennie Railplane Description Kelvingrove

The idea was good enough in itself, and if we look overseas then a number of monorails can be found which have succeeded.

But the missing aspect was proper consideration of the engineering and costs – had Bennie been in business with someone who had reeled him in, and ensured the system had been approached in a way that addressed its flaws, then the outcome could have been different.

Using a propeller to drive a land craft was not a good idea, but would have seemed like a good idea by following speedy aviation and streamlining ideas which were popular concepts, and innovation would attract funding. In reality, the losses of a propeller driven carriage, and resultant high fuel consumption would have ruined the operating economics, and demanded a change to some sort of mechanical drive (like other systems of the day).

Then there was the hugely impractical suspended track, intended to be built over existing railways.

However, an honest look at its complexity, and the amount of material consumed compared to the rail tracks which would lie below should soon reveal the dubious wisdom of that part of the system too. There probably wasn’t much that could have been done then to reduce that, barring a complete redesign of the structure, and with the steel and construction methods of the day, there would have been problems.

There’s another aspect – that test track only has one line. Two would really have been needed to provide a realistic service in both directions. Or there would have to have been some way of shuffling railplanes back and forth, and around one another on a single track. Given how often single track trains crashed in those days due to signalling errors, can you imagine how long it would have been until the first truly high-speed collision occurred if that had been tried?

I guess the lack of any subsequent projects along the same lines (unless we count the Hyperloop, which is yet to become a reality anywhere) is as good an indication as any that Bennie may have had an idea, but that while it looked good, it couldn’t deliver.

12/03/2018 - Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | ,

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