Motat is a fascinating museum of transport and technology located in Western Springs a suburb of Auckland. It has an amazing collection of historic vehicles of all types and plenty of heritage and history which will entertain delight and fascinate visitors for hours. The large property is beautifully themed with many heritage style buildings and artefacts to give you a real feeling of what New Zealand was like years ago. There are some incredible vehicles on display from cars, trucks, planes, trains and trams, in-fact the tram is a working exhibit offering trips around the complex and to the nearby annex exhibition which houses many of the aircraft exhibitions. The site was once home to a huge pump which serviced Auckland’s water supply, today this incredible piece of Victorian machinery has been restored and is housed in an beautiful brick building looking more like artwork than a piece of machinery, it is really an incredible sight. Motat also features a historic village with many small cottages all decked out with their heritage fittings and furnishings, they are very interesting and give you a real feel of how people lived years ago.
Posts under ‘Trains’
The much loved Disneyland Monorail has been a part of the themepark since its opening in 1959. Over the years it has had several facelifts and model changes but it is still one of the parks biggest attractions. The monorail is used to transport guests around the park and to the shopping and entertainment area of Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Hotel. The monorail offers spectacular views of the Disneyland park as it follows its snake like route around Tomorrowland and the Matterhorn and across the Submarine Lagoon of the Nemo ride.
When you think of trams in the beautiful US Pacific city of San Francisco you think of the old cable cars that head up and down the steep streets. Well there is another very unique tram travelling the streets of San Francisco, the Tram or Street Car as they are known. The cars returned to the streets of San Francisco in 1979 and have now grown to quiet a fleet. Many of the street cars have come from cities around the US where they are no longer in use. Some have even come from overseas including Melbourne Australia, Kobe and Hiroshima in Japan and Blackpool in the UK. After painstaking restoration, and painting usually in the original city’s colours the trams have been returned to service.
Gliding smoothly on a track high above the city streets in the tropical city of Kuala Lumpur is the KL Monorail. The monorail links the Golden Triangle sector of the city with the Sentral transport hub and stops at 11 stations. After a bit of a shaky financial start the system opened in 2003 and today over 21 million people use the 8.6km system every year. For the visitor to Kuala Lumpur the monorail offers a unique and easy way to visit some of the major attractions of the city and is in easy reach of many of the huge shopping malls including the massive Times Square shopping complex. The two carrige train can carry up to 244 people although fairly tightly, with 48 people sitting and 196 standing. There are 10 units of 2 car trains in service. The KL monorail is one of a number of monorails in Malaysia others include the Sunway Monorail at Sunway Pyramid Mall just outside KL, and several other new or under construction systems in Malacca, Penang and Putrajaya. There have been proposals to extend the KL monorail line but no firm funding or plans have been announced. One interesting highlight of the system is special animal conservation at each station. Each station has been given the responsibility to look after an endangered or precious animal. You will see some pretty fancy birds and reptiles at many of the stations.
The beautiful Czech Republic city of Prague has a wonderful tram network which makes visiting the city very easy. The trams in the city date back to 1875 when the trams were horse drawn but today the system is one of the most modern in Europe and covers over 140 kilometres of track and over 900 tram cars. For a real treat look out for the historic no 91 tram which runs over the warmer months. This quaint wooden tram adds a charming and nostalgic addition to Prague’s magnificent old architecture. For people wanting to see some of Prague’s most popular sites then tram 22 is the one for you it passes the Staromestska National Theatre, the Malostranska and offers some amazing views of the Prague Castle and the Pohorelec. The tram network run 24 hours, the daytime timetable runs from 4:30 am to midnight with services about every 10 minutes while the night service runs every 40 minutes.
Heathrow airport is one of the world’s busiest and with its five different terminals it can be a nightmare to navigate with sometimes huge distances to travel between flights and to the carpark.
Well they have come up with a futuristic and novel way to help move people around, with the trial introduction of a pod system which should move travellers easily and swiftly around the complex.
Starting trials in the next few weeks from the brand new terminal five will be a driver-less pod system which runs on a 4 km track. Each pf the pods carry a family and luggage from the terminal to the airport. The system is that smart all the rider needs to do is swipe tickets, or frequent flyer card onto the computer or type in the flight number and the pod will instantly take them there travelling at speeds of about 40kph.
It is hoped the 4km trial will extend to the whole airport and cover the 48km needed to move between all terminals. The pod is a battery powered vehicle which recharges when not in use and it is environmentally friendly emitting no CO2 and uses about 70 percent less energy than that of a modern vehicle, and with much of the system on elevated rails it keeps away from the nasty traffic of the airport.
Called ULTra Personal Transport System the initial investment has cost in the vicinity of 25 million pounds for the 18 pods and tracks. There are also plans underway for Daventry and Norhamptonshire to use similar systems, and if successful we might see them rolled out throughout the world.
All ready for the this weeks Olympic celebrations, the Beijing – Tianjin high speed railway has just opened in China. The train will take passengers from Beijing to the soccer facilities at Tianjin. The train will travel at speeds up to 350 km per hour and cost about $10 for first class and a little less for second class, and the trip will take about 30 minutes. The train is believed to be the fastest intercity train in the world and in it’s first few days of operation has been a huge hit. The system has taken three years to build and over 2o billion yuan (3 billion US dollars) has been spent on construction with nearly 90 percent of its 100km line elevated because of bad soil. Over 26 million people travel the route each year and it is expected with this new service 32 million will now be able to travel making it one of the busiest lines in the world.
Well we got the taste for Japanese stories with yesterday’s post so we thought we would do another. Today we feature the Shinkansen or Japan’s bullet train. This state of the art service is the safest, most punctual and one of the fastest rail services in the world. The service has been running for nearly 40 years and have carried over 6 billion passengers which is Earth’s entire population. The train system has never had a serious accident and travels at speeds in excess of 300 km per hour and there is testing of trains which will do 500 km per hour- it is quiet amazing. Catching the train is the easiest thing, no waiting and long queues like at the airport, just purchase a ticket from the vending machine or office counter, go to your station, wait at the allocated laneway, wait no more than a couple of minutes step inside the carriage walk a few paces to your allocated seat, sit down and away you go. It is that easy. A trip from Tokyo to Osaka takes a little more than 2 hours, and you usually have less than 10 minutes waiting time to board the train. During the day a train leaves Tokyo for Osaka every five minutes and each train holds about 1600 people. Food carts with lovely bento boxes and other treats are brought around the cabin, you can even purchase liquor. It’s one of the most comfortable and hassle free forms of travel.
Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world and being so big it has a pretty decent transport system. At times like the morning and afternoon rush hours the trains can become overcrowded, sometimes reaching over 200% capacity. Because of this station employees formally known as “passenger arrangement staff” but nick named “Oshiya” (Pusher in English) are stationed on the platform to direct passengers to empty carriages and to help them into crowded carriages. Watch the video above and you will see what we mean. If you also think there may be a chance of getting felt up while in the packed train well the Japanese have a plan for that as well with special carriages for woman only known as Josei Senyo Sharyo. These carriages will have a image of a woman on the door and often feature a pink stripe along side of them and were put in place as many woman felt uncomfortable in the packed carriages due to the amount of groping incidents (known as chikan).
Now if it is 3 top things we like about traveling it would be fast trains, Disneyland and Las Vegas. Unfortunately you can’t combine all three in the one trip, but that may change in the future according to this Slashdot story. Apparently the Bush administration has approved 45 million in funding towards a 300mph maglev train to link Disneyland to Las Vegas in under 2 hours. Maglev’s have been touted as the future of train travel as their speed is comparable to an aircraft but by being a train can move more people to and from a central city spot. The biggest problem with maglev’s is building the track that allows the train to levitate magnetically is frightfully expensive. The Shanghai system in China (video above) cost around 1.2 million US to build a 30 klm track and experts predict that this money will never be recouped over the life of the train via its fares. Apparently the 45 million set aside for the US system is to pay for environmental studies on the first leg of the project. With the length of the proposed track being around 250 miles we hate to think how much the train will cost if completed. Perhaps Bush’s plan is to make it so expensive GM will never be able to buy it to close it down! What do you think great idea or white elephant? Hit up our comment form below. Read the rest of this entry »