Sunday, 9 March 2008

Heathrow ULTra PRT

Heathrow Terminal 5 will add two extra modes of transport to London's repertoire, both variations on rubber-tyred people movers. The first is fairly conventional and is a lot like the one shown here (though T5 has double-ended cars), running in an underground tunnel to shuttle passengers from the main building to the satellite building where the majority of the terminal's gates are.

The other, ULTra PRT, is much more unusual. It uses four-seater battery-powered pods that operate like automated taxis, allowing passengers to choose their destination before they board, and it will take them straight there. The initial system only has three stations, one in Terminal 5 and the other two in a long stay car park on the northern perimeter, but it's hoped the system will one day cover the whole airport.

It's developed by a Welsh company and is amongst the first of its kind in the world - the only comparable systems are one on a university campus in West Virginia built in 1971 and a tiny one in Las Colinas, Texas.

One of the pods is currently parked on display on the guideway near the terminal building:

As the last picture shows, the guideway is basically complete at the terminal end, but at the northern it's still very much under construction:

You can see the route in this shoddy aerial photo and in the planning application, which I've transcribed it onto Google Maps. The planning permission also includes the layout of the track within the car park, the location of the station at Terminal 5, which is part of the multi-storey car park adjacent to the terminal, and includes a large area for parking out-of-service pods. There's also this long explanation of the system. You can see many more construction photos here.

Although Terminal 5 opens later this month, the ULTra PRT system will not be ready for another year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when the prt is launched??