Could the Tube, the venerable London Underground, be replaced by a treadmill? That is the question Evening Standardby revealing this information. A London architectural firm NBBJis working on this project and says it could change the lives of millions of metro users in the British capital.
Ahe City of London is doing all it can to relieve congestion on its underground. Ideas are flowing from all sides. We had some. reported one, original, consisting of transforming abandoned tunnels into bicycle paths, producing electricity. Participating in a new call for projects, the architects of the NBBJ agency were particularly interested in the Inner Circle, a 23-km loop with 27 stations, practiced by cohorts of hurried users who lose an incredible amount of time in the metro corridors. In order to fluidify traffic during peak hours, the project designers proposed replacing the metro trains with a gigantic "travelator": a three-track, three-speed moving walkway. This travelator would travel at 9 km/h, 14 km/h and 19 km/h and would slow down in front of the platforms to allow passengers to "get off" by simply taking a step to the side.
The idea is worth exploring because the Inner Circle carries more than 117 million passengers a year with only 8 trains and a very mediocre top speed of 32 km/hr. These performances make it the most congested line in London, where passengers are desperate to board the trains.
For Christian Coop, design director at NBBJ, the problem would be solved with this moving sidewalk, capable of carrying 55,000 passengers at the same time.
The idea of transporting passengers on a treadmill is not new; it has been the subject of several science fiction short stories, notably "The Roads Must Roll" by Robert A. Heinlein published in 1940, "The Cave of Steels" by Isaac Asimov in 1953 and above all that of H.G. Wells' "Anticipations" which already in 1901 in its chapter "Transport in the 20th Century" described the concept of the treadmill.
The first travelator was installed 55 years ago at the Bank station in London and the one at the Montparnasse station in Paris in 2002 which, following several accidents, turned out to be a fiasco forced to stop in 2009. Other projects are under way, including at Nice to connect the future TGV station to the airport. The treadmill, a means of transport in the air of time, which the innovations brought by the NBBJ firm could improve even further. To be continued.