Hovertrain

LIMRVair cushionhovertrainson a cushion of airride upon an air-cushionsuspended on an air cushion
A hovertrain is a type of high-speed train that replaces conventional steel wheels with hovercraft lift pads, and the conventional railway bed with a paved road-like surface, known as the track or guideway.wikipedia
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Otis Hovair

HovairOtis-built people moversTTI Hovair
The only hovertain to see commercial service was the Otis Hovair system.
Otis Hovair Transit Systems is a type of hovertrain used in low-speed people mover applications.

Hovercraft

air cushion vehiclehoverbikesair cushion
A hovertrain is a type of high-speed train that replaces conventional steel wheels with hovercraft lift pads, and the conventional railway bed with a paved road-like surface, known as the track or guideway.
This led to a variety of "hovertrain" proposals during the 1960s, including England's Tracked Hovercraft and France's Aérotrain.

Aérotrain

Aérotrain 01Aérotrain S44high-speed hovercraft train
The hovertrain was originally developed by Jean Bertin (1917-1975) in France, where they were marketed as the Aérotrain (1965-1977), before it was eventually abandoned by the French government.
(TACV), or hovertrain, developed in France from 1965 to 1977 under the engineering leadership of Jean Bertin (1917–1975) – and intended to bring the French rail network to the cutting edge of land-based public transportation.

Hunting oscillation

huntinghuntoscillate
At high speeds, trains suffer from a form of instability known as "hunting oscillation" that forces the flanges on the sides of the wheels to hit the sides of the rails, as if they were rounding a tight bend.
Advances in wheel and truck design based on research and development efforts in Europe and Japan have extended the speeds of steel wheel systems well beyond those attained by the original Shinkansen, while the advantage of back-compatibility keeps such technology dominant over alternatives such as the hovertrain and maglev systems.

Tracked Hovercraft

Research Test Vehicle 31RTV31
The two teams joined forces, re-organizing as Tracked Hovercraft to continue efforts to build a full-scale prototype.
Substantially similar to the French Aérotrain and other hovertrain systems of the 1960s, Tracked Hovercraft suffered a similar fate to these projects when it was cancelled as a part of wide budget cuts in 1973.

Linear motor

linear synchronous motorLSMlinear induction motor
The design eventually ended up at Otis Elevator who later replaced its linear motor with a cable pull and sold the resulting design for people mover installations all over the world.

Christopher Cockerell

Sir Christopher CockerellChristopher Sydney CockerellSir Christopher Sydney Cockerell
The earliest examples of serious hovertrain proposals come, unsurprisingly, from Christopher Cockerell's group, organized in Hythe, Kent as Hovercraft Development Ltd. As early as 1960 their engineers were experimenting with the hovertrain concept, and by 1963 had developed a test-bed system about the size of a tractor-trailer that ran for short distances on a concrete pad with a central vertical surface that provided directional control.
In later life, Cockerell developed many other improvements to the hovercraft, and invented various other applications for the air cushion principle, such as the hovertrain.

Hovercar

Hover CarHover carshover-cab
The closest real-world devices are the hovercraft, which elevates itself above a water or level hard surface using a cushion of air retained by a flexible skirt, and the hovertrain, which is a type of high-speed train that replaces conventional steel wheels with hovercraft lift pads, and the conventional railway bed with a paved road-like surface, known as the "track" or "guideway".

Transportation Technology Center, Inc.

Transportation Technology CenterHigh Speed Ground Test CenterTransportation Test Center
Since then the Pueblo facility has been used for testing conventional trains to this day, now known as the Transportation Technology Center.
It originated as the Department of Transportation's High Speed Ground Test Center as a site to test several hovertrain concepts.

Pratt & Whitney J52

J-52J52J52 (JT8A)
Two Pratt & Whitney J52 jet engines were added to the vehicle to propel the vehicle up to higher speeds, after acceleration the engines were then throttled back so that the thrust equaled their drag.

High-speed rail

high-speedhigh-speed trainhigh-speed railway
A hovertrain is a type of high-speed train that replaces conventional steel wheels with hovercraft lift pads, and the conventional railway bed with a paved road-like surface, known as the track or guideway.

Rolling resistance

rolling frictionrolling resistance coefficientbelow
The concept aims to eliminate rolling resistance and allow very high performance, while also simplifying the infrastructure needed to lay new lines.

British Rail

British RailwaysBRnationalisation
While they were being developed, British Rail was running an extensive study of the problems being seen at high speeds on conventional rails.

Advanced Passenger Train

APTAPT-PBritish Advanced Passenger Train
This led to a series of new high-speed train designs in the 1970s, starting with their own APT.

TGV

high-speed trainsTrain à Grande VitesseLGV
Although the hovertrains still had reduced infrastructure costs compared to the APT and similar designs like the TGV, in practice this was offset by their need for entirely new lines.

Personal rapid transit

personal rapid transportPRTPersonal automated transport
Hovertrains were also developed for smaller systems, including personal rapid transit systems that were a hot topic in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

General Motors

GMGeneral Motors CorporationGeneral Motors Company
Originally developed at General Motors as an automated guideway transit system, GM was forced to divest the design as part of an antitrust ruling.

Automated guideway transit

guidewayAGTautomated
Originally developed at General Motors as an automated guideway transit system, GM was forced to divest the design as part of an antitrust ruling.

Otis Elevator Company

OtisOtis ElevatorOtis elevators
The design eventually ended up at Otis Elevator who later replaced its linear motor with a cable pull and sold the resulting design for people mover installations all over the world.

People mover

automated people movergroup rapid transitpeople-mover
The design eventually ended up at Otis Elevator who later replaced its linear motor with a cable pull and sold the resulting design for people mover installations all over the world.

Jean Bertin

Bertin
The hovertrain was originally developed by Jean Bertin (1917-1975) in France, where they were marketed as the Aérotrain (1965-1977), before it was eventually abandoned by the French government.

Ford Motor Company

FordFord MotorsFord Motor Co.
One of the earliest hovertrain concepts predates hovercraft by decades; in the early 1930s Andrew Kucher, an engineer at Ford, came up with the idea of using compressed air to provide lift as a form of lubrication.

Poppet valve

valvesvalveexhaust valve
This led to the Levapad concept, where compressed air was blown out of small metal disks, shaped much like a poppet valve.

Mechanix Illustrated

Modern MechanixMechanics IllustratedToday's Homeowner
A 1958 article in Modern Mechanix is one of the first popular introductions of the Levapad concept.

Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics MagazinePopular Mechanics ShowPopular Mechanics’
A 1960 Popular Mechanics article notes a number of different groups proposing a hovertrain concept.