Indian Railways engineer bags prestigious MIT award

26 Aug 2016 | By Supriya Kaur
Caterpillar trains: The 'internet of urban transport'

Ashwani Kumar Upadhyaya, a 43 years old officer with the Indian Railways Traffic Service, won the innovation competition recently held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His design of lightweight, high speed elevated train coaches was adjudged the best in two categories: the judges' choice and the popular category.

Emil Jacob, a PHD scholar at MIT, is Upadhyaya's collaborator on this project.

In context: Caterpillar trains: The 'internet of urban transport'

AboutWhat are 'caterpillar trains' ?

Caterpillar trains are trains that are proposed to run on elevated tracks or even 'hang' from them.

Compared to regular trains, smaller coaches would be used that can seat up to 20 people and these coaches would be as tall as an SUV.

Caterpillar trains will be supported by poles 'bent' to form an arch and will be powered by electricity.

DetailsHow is it unique?

Existing urban mass transit systems require travellers to commute to a central point, however, caterpillar trains can access any area with a 5 metre road.

The traction mechanism in these trains allow them to swiftly increase or decrease speed.

Since these trains would be supported by poles, they would require much less land and will cost 1/15th of building a metro rail system.

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26 Aug 2016Indian Railways engineer bags prestigious MIT award

Passenger's perspective

DetailsPassenger's perspective

According to Upadhyaya, passengers travelling on "caterpillar trains" will be able to opt for a station of their choice via a console.

Platform design will be simple and accessible via elevators.

Passengers will only be allowed to sit in these coaches.

These trains will be able to go almost all the way to residential areas cutting down on commuting time.

MIT Climate CoLab Competition

There were 29 submissions in the transport category and the 'caterpillar train' or 'c-train' trumped all to win the top prize. According to Upadhyaya "Some ideas are very good on paper, but not practicable. I guess we won because ours was both."