The train service that runs from my home to the city of London is probably not dissimilar to most other major towns and cities in the UK, if not most of the industrial World. We get 3-4 trains an hour and of course, the morning and evening commuter trains are full as is the first off-peak train, otherwise they are mostly empty.
It’s the principle problem that all train companies face. As demand rises, they increase capacity by increasing the number of carriages. Trains get longer and heavier. The heavier they are, the more they need to spend on fuel and the more maintenance they and the tracks need.
Brilliant idea #322 is to total re-think this approach which replaces long heavy trains with hundreds of small car-sized carriages. Rather than running the service based on a timetable, the carriage leaves when the passenger is ready to go. When there are no passengers, the carriages sit waiting. They stop when the passengers want it to stop therefore reducing the travel time and energy that is used stopping and getting back up to speed.
They are small and light so the impact on the maintenance of the line is minimal.
They are autonomously driven so there is no need for a driver which both reduces cost and increases safety. They know the stopping distance of the train in-front, so they control their speed to keep the required gap between itself and the train in-front.
They are significantly cheaper to build and maintain and completely electric. Because they only consume electricity when they are moving a passenger (rather than a train which is 20% full) they are significantly cheaper to run.
It’s the Boris bike (the London bike sharing – or presumably all bike sharing) model, but rather than a bike, it’s a small, car sized autonomously driven vehicle.