68% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050, putting massive strain on roads and existing public transport networks. In the UK alone, road congestion cost the economy almost £7 billion in 2019, with 65% of its workforce currently commuting by car. This compounds air quality crises in cities worldwide which collectively lead to 4.2 million deaths annually according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). A large proportion of this pollution is caused by road traffic, creating demand for mass transit solutions to reduce congestion.
Conventional mass transit infrastructure projects – such as the £19 billion Crossrail project in London, UK – are disruptive, time consuming and costly, with European rail projects going over budget by 34% on average. These costs can be prohibitive for smaller cities, developers, and businesses, such as airports and out-of-town business parks, which compounds the reliance on road transport.
As cities across the world urgently seek sustainable and affordable mass transit solutions that meet the needs of a zero-carbon, clean air future while supporting a new age of mass urbanisation, around 100 countries are planning over 1,000 new metro rail projects by 2030. This is equivalent to over $2.2 trillion USD of investment.
A world-first driverless, zero-emission mass transit technology – comprising autonomous electric pods capable of traveling on both road and rail – has been launched by UK-based startup to revolutionise urban mobility and connectivity in cities worldwide, cutting congestion, air pollution, costs and carbon emissions.
The mobility startup’s breakthrough floc technology will, for the first time, combine door-to-door on-demand ride hailing transport with high frequency, accessible and sustainable mass transit to provide seamless, zero-emission passenger and cargo journeys across cities.
The world’s first fully operational site is planned to open in 2025 at the National Railway Museum, Locomotion, in Shildon, North East England – exactly 200 years after the same site hosted the world’s first passenger steam engine, Stephenson’s Locomotion. A rapid global rollout will follow, seeing at least 10 cities adopt the technology by 2030, beginning with Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and cities across the UK, ushering in a new era of mass transit.
The company’s floc technology is a twenty-first century solution to the problem, designed to be significantly cheaper and quicker to construct, with a much smaller physical footprint than conventional metro rail, light rail and tram projects.
The floc technology deploys hundreds of lightweight, driverless, zero emission electric pods to collect passengers from anywhere in a city using ground-level tracks or existing road networks. To traverse the most congested areas of urban centres at high speeds, the pods elevate to an above-ground Duo Rail track via ultramodern stations, all without passengers having to leave the pod. The pods can “flock” together into connected trains or run individually depending on demand. This means floc can deliver high frequency peak capacity on dense routes and also provide economically viable services on less dense routes or during off-peak times.
The elevated Duo Rail track, powered by overhead solar canopies, can run above existing roads and infrastructure, giving a physical footprint 70% smaller than a typical urban light rail system. This allows infrastructure to ‘tiptoe’ through dense urban areas, minimising the need to demolish buildings or dig expensive tunnel networks, while allowing space for roads, green corridors, cycle paths or pedestrian zones below.
Using innovative “pop up” construction, each prefabricated section of Duo Rail track can be installed in a matter of days. This flexible and modular design means new sections can be easily and quickly added or adapted to meet the changing demands of cities as they develop. The result is a system costing 50% less than traditional light rail, with significantly less environmental impact.
The tech startup plans to develop floc Duo Rail mass transit networks in at least 10 cities around the world by 2030 to meet growing demand. Cities in the UK, Europe, North America, Middle East, and Africa, are in discussions with the company to deploy floc networks, with Kampala in Uganda expected to host the world’s first city-scale project. The startup has received support from the highest levels of Ugandan Government to deliver the project, which will be capable of carrying up to 16,000 passengers in each direction on each of the proposed routes.
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