Barcelona, Sao Paulo, Munich, St Louis and Shanklin on the Isle of Wight are set to emulate Transport For London’s “no-ride” tube system, by creating their own mega-ultra-light railway systems. But instead of digging costly tunnels and filling them with expensive “trains”, the new systems will be entirely virtual, with passengers imagining themselves using a high tech system while walking to their destinations in closely-knit groups as they do in pioneering Camden Town.
Peru’s capital, Lima, already has a network of eight totally conceptual underground lines, with zero-impact “imagitrains” already in service in commuters’ heads. It was created in 36 hours with a minimum of digging and engineering works. The “Conceptrans” system will travel hypothetically from beneath set street corners in the city. The system will be driverless as well as passengerless. “I read about the Northern Line’s plan to de-tube the tube in the Evening Standard on Monday,” said Peru’s Transport Minister Hugo Smyreras. “But I realised, our total lack of tunnels and the absence of high maintenance trains in our city put us ahead of the game. I instantly ordered whiteboard signs to indicate the hypothetical stations and mapped out a system which is already attracting thousands of passengers, who are delighted with the low fares.”
Now Philip Hammond, the UK Transport Secretary, is examining whether the same concept can be brought to HS2, with the slogan “so fast, you won’t see it” under discussion. But many along the route fear the mental stress of an entirely imaginary high speed train passing every hour. “It’s bad enough with that dreadful computer graphic of HS2 they show on the news,” said an anti-HS2 campaign spokesman. “Imagine having to imagine a train passing close to your back garden every hour. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Suppose there was an imaginary accident. There could be imaginary bodies everywhere. Won’t somebody think of the imaginary children?!”
Meanwhile Ryanair is to launch its Flights of the Imagination in summer next year. “We’ll take passengers out on a big old runway and ask them to stick their arms out and fling themselves in the air at the same time,” said CEO Michael O’Smithy. “If they put their feet on the ground during the flight there will be a surcharge, of course. And when they land we will talk to them in the language or local accent of their imagined destination. The whole thing will be faster, safer, greener and much, much more profitable.”