Car-trains could provide alternative means of transportation

A Thousand Oaks company has developed a system that will allow trains to operate as car ferries to alleviate freeway traffic.

Frank Randak, president and founder of the Advanced Vehicle Transportation Corporation said he came up with the idea 18 years ago while sitting in traffic on the Golden State Freeway.

“I thought about the idea of a car being enclosed on a train and carried on a track to (a) destination,” Randak said.

The idea of transporting cars using “dual mode technology” (cars and trains together) has been around for 50 years, Randak said. The idea was to put cars on palettes and transfer them onto tracks. The original idea did not enclose the cars, which made it so that they were not secure, Randak said.

Randak said he expanded his idea from some of the earlier versions and started working on drawings for his concept 10 to 15 years ago.

“(This concept became) the solution to the problem,” he said.

Using Randak’s system, people could drive their cars to a station or shuttle stop, where their cars would be parked, then picked up and transported on a ramp to the train, all while the passenger remains inside. The passenger would then pick a destination to be let out on a surface street.

“(The car-trains would be) completely electric and solar powered,” Randak said. “(The car-trains wouldn’t) cause pollution.”

“That would definitely help with our air quality problem here (in California),” said Tina Cherry, spokesperson for the South Coast Air Quality District. “We are always looking for ways to decrease airway emissions, and we encourage things that may help us do that.”

“(People would get where they are going) faster, better and cheaper,” Randak said. “It removes traffic congestion. (In order to do that, we would) have to move a lot of cars. (We would) have to move 10,000 cars an hour. (Therefore), we have to have a system that doesn’t.”

This system may be implemented in the near future, Randak said. And if AVT receives support from investors in China, who are interested in using the car-train system to combat traffic in Beijing, the company will be building and operating a small version of the concept in the San Fernando Valley area as part of a deal with investors.

“We expect to have funding very soon,” Randak said.

However, the plan will cost millions of dollars to put into action. According to Randak, it would cost about $40 million per mile, but it would not cost taxpayers because the system would generate revenue from ticket sales.

“The cost would be of no importance to taxpayers,” he said. Private funding would pay for initial expenses.

“(If we accomplish the deal with China), it’s going to be a very big story.”