A national network of pipelines carrying freight capsules at up to 200km/hour is commercially feasible, according to a report published yesterday by the Institution of Civil Engineers on behalf of the Engineering Council.
The 2020 Vision report on transport calls for a freight transport system which does not impede passenger transport.
This leads to a choice of rail or pipeline inland, together with coastal and offshore shipping, for bulk freight transport.
The report envisages a rail renaissance, with the construction of a national high speed freight grid with road/rail interchanges every 120km, with an improved structure gauge to allow `piggybacking’ of heavy goods vehicles.
The report will be submitted to the Government as part of its consultation exercise for next year’s White Paper on an integrated transport policy.
Its most radical proposals are those for a network of pipelines to carry capsules containing small packaged goods, parcels, and high value items needing security.
The idea has been around for about 100 years. But a modern high technology capsule transport system would use linear induction motors to power the capsules at up to 200km/hour. Capacity would initially be 0.5 tonnes per capsule, but this would be expected to increase as the system was developed.