Report - - The Insane French Rocket-Propelled Jetsons Monorail Test Track - France, 2011 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - The Insane French Rocket-Propelled Jetsons Monorail Test Track - France, 2011


Germany is the "wurst"
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Another one of our visits to a landmark smack in the middle of the countryside, often seen, generally overlooked, garnering the reaction of "oh, I kept passing that, and never thought of going to check it out" from my esteemed French colleagues.

This is all that remains of the mighty, mighty Aérotrain, a pipe dream of French engineering (and before my dear English friends start snickering about French mechanical prowess, may I remind you that until recently your cars shed just as many spare parts, and French trains don't spontaneously fall over and explode for no particular reason, usually).

The Aérotrain was the dream of one M. Jean Bertin, a 1950s visionary who believed in the idea of fast transportation. Really fast transportation. Like, strap a jet engine to a 1958 industrial designer's idea of what you'd get from genetically fusing a bumper car, a UFO, and the biggest shiniest Cadillac the epoch had to offer, feeding it a chunk of plutonium, and setting it off on a raised track to terrify French farmers' cattle and wilt their crops as it zoomed along at nearly 460km/h.

Also, it hovered.

I know y'all don't like videos, but this is just too awesome for words (if you turn off the obnoxious soundtracks):



The last of the full-size test tracks, already heavily damaged from vandalism, highway construction, and the ravages of time, consists mainly of a set of concrete rails and a few platforms near either end and near the middle. It's been abandoned since the 1970s, and of course we didn't see any actual cars (they've all been scrapped or put in museums), but if we had, they'd look like this:

And that's just the early experimental 2- and 4-man models. Two examples were built as full-sized passenger rail buses, propelled by gigantic turbofans.

What we did manage to do was monkey around the monorails up top and get a feel for the immensity of this thing, snaking its way through the countryside and forest, overgrown with trees and moss and largely except by the local graffers who use it as a gigantic billboard. Gaining access was a piece of cake for the central platform, and a slippery filthy nightmare for the forest section, as two 30-something out-of-shape goons with photo gear slung across their backs tried to climb 5-meter-high trees for the first time in decades.

So think of that the next time you're in some dull commuter train - you could have been flying around at 300mph in a futuristic silver bullet, waving to George Jetson at the station.








Here's a pano of one of the central sections running behind the Paris-Orléans TGV line - ironically, the pioneering high speed train that the French national railways lobbied the government to implement after some nasty skullduggery and back-office politics (click for full-size).


More, as always, at Kosmograd dot net, and, hopefully soon, at the site of my vastly more talented colleague who dragged along his large-format beast of a camera to take some great pictures.