Ashwani Kumar Upadhyaya, a 47-year-old Indian Railways engineer who recently won an award for at MIT for his exceptionally innovative idea of developing caterpillar trains.
Ashwani, who is a 1997-batch officer of the Indian Railway Traffic Service, is posted at the Centre for Railway Information Systems in New Delhi and is currently on a study leave as a PhD scholar in Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston. He won in a global competition on innovations that was organised by MIT and had about 500 entries. Ashwani came up with this idea with a fellow PhD scholar Emil Jacob.
Caterpillar train is a network of lightweight, elevated train coaches that will run at speeds up to 100 km/hr taking passengers even to the residential areas. The idea behind the caterpillar train is to install wheels both above and below the coaches. This way, they will be able to run on the tracks as well as hang from them. The tracks would be supported by poles bent to form arches.
The whole system will run on electricity and the coaches will also have a backup battery to be used in case of emergencies such as a power failure. Every coach will have the capacity to seat 20 people and their small size will help them reach residential areas too. The small size is also supposed to allow trains to be vertically stacked at the depot.
“Currently, all urban mass transit systems are developed on the hub-and-spoke concept — the transport system is the hub and users have to travel from various parts of the city and converge there to use it. But the C-Train goes wherever there is at least a five-metre road,” said Ashwani. The competition, organised by MIT’s Centre for Collective Intelligence, offers a crowd-sourcing platform for people to create ideas and proposals on how the issue of climate change can be addressed.