The Physics Of Trains Interactive Platform (POTIP)
 Posted on 28/05/2014 - 16:10
Idea Outline
To create an online education tool for young people, to help them understand the physics of railways and tramways; energy use, speed, capacity, stopping distance, timeslots, gradients etc., to interest them in becoming scientists and engineers.

The Challenge
Building sustainable transport systems (and living environments) requires that we teach young people science and engineering, with a worsening skills shortage across Europe. The UK is busy undertaking major infrastructure projects (e.g.. HS2), requring these key skills. Without firm action, projects of all kinds risk derailment both in planning and construction. An investment case requires accurate cost assessment and risk management, which cannot be done without a proper understanding of the challenges. We also need tools to better inform the wider community as to what can realistically be achieved; not from lack of innovation but basic physical laws which dictate what is possible. Failure to take action risks wasting precious time and resources on projects which cannot be delivered.

The Solution

POTIP will present both conventional rail and alternatives such as "2nd Generation Rail" (2GR) to compare and contrast energy use, speed, capacity, stopping distance, timeslots, gradients and the relationships between each of these variables. The goal is to communicate how both the design and running of a railway requires trade-offs, e.g. shorter journey times require an increase in energy consumption proportional to the square of the speed. On a conventional railway, the greater the number of turnouts (points) the lower the available route capacity. Users, including non-technical decision-makers, will be able to experiment with various vehicles including high speed freight, such as TruckTrain ( Various design options would be explored with a view to further funding.

Target group and social impact
The primary Target Group are those considering their future career; the aim being to get them excited about railway design and operation and encourage a greater take-up of science and engineering - in other words, the types of skills needed to re-design our living environments, to make them more sustainable whilst still delivering economic growth. Young people will benefit from what are likely to prove challenging and rewarding careers which, thanks to our urgent need for a low-carbon economy, stand to be in ever-increasing demand. In addition, the tool will educate non-technical people (e.g. government ministers, journalists, general public) on the complexities of projects such as HS2 (plus alternatives to conventional rail), to help foster a more informed debate on sustainability.

Competences of the applicant
POTIP is a Joint Venture between S9L ( and Railfast ( S9L is a group of like-minded social entrepreneurs, with expertise in solar, rail, marine, automotive, aviation, finance and media. Railfast is engaged in the development of automated loading/unloading systems for high speed intermodal freight, with funding under the ERDF (HiTechRail) Programme

Video Link
None posted
Social Category
  • Civic Empowerment and Community Engagement
  • Economic Empowerment and Prosperity
  • Environment and Sustainability
  • Knowledge Society and Education

  • Tecnology Category
  • Audiovisual
  • Data
  • Open Source
  • Web/Internet

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    It seems a very down to earth proposal and that to me gives it sincerity in todays world as the need to become self-sufficient is so important now.