Sunday, February 23, 2014

Train Surfing

So the lazy bum (yeah me!) has invented another sport for other people like me. It’s called train surfing and it involves riding in the first compartment of a driverless train. For the uninformed, Singapore now has 3 driverless MRT train lines and 3 driverless LRT lines.

Driverless trains are a technology marvel in itself. These trains steer, start, stop and accelerate all by themselves without having anyone physically in the train to drive them. Though NEL was the first driverless train in Singapore, the designers did not really put a big front glass window for people to gaze out at the track in the front while the train is travelling. However, the subsequent lines – Circle and now the Downtown line both have a huge window from which you can peek out at the track in front.

So what exactly is train surfing? My definition is – you get into a driverless train and stand in the front compartment near the window and then enjoy the ride. These trains can reach speeds up to 80 kmph. So in a way you are out there standing in a pseudo-roller coaster that can go that fast. And the cool part? You can do it while you are commuting to your boring day job, day-after-day every day!

And what do silly train surfing fanatics like me do? Well, they plan their route to the destination in such a way that they have to take these driverless train (even though it’s not the shortest distance!).

The newest addition to the driverless train family in Singapore (Downtown Line) actually has bright lights on the front of the train lighting up the entire track ahead. In the Circle line, the visibility always has been a bit of an issue for train surfers, but with the new lights, we can now actually look into the future. How cool is that?

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