#2406: SpeedSkirt

I was wondering, when looking at the record breaking Mallard steam engine, if it could have beaten its own 126 MPH record with a more aerodynamic skin made of, say, alumninium.

Whilst pondering this it became evident that even our so-called high-speed trains have an enormous amount of high-drag undercarriage on show.


Today’s invention is an additional underskirt for railway carriages which would greatly smooth the airflow underneath the carriage and around its wheels by wrapping them in a lightweight tub.

This tub would ride on its own set of wheels (yellow), and have a gap at one end into which carriages could fit. This would allow rapid attachment and detachment for maintenance or to deploy them on the trains most in need of a speed increase.


  1. its a mindpopper again!

    1) I think the biggest gain will not be time but energy used.
    2) a big part of the drag of a train/wagon comes from the “ground”. The rails, wooden bars bolts and nuts as all the pebbles cause all kind of small vortices causing its share of the drag
    3) by making the new hull a “shape-shifter” one can adjust/optimize its effect per speed (think formula 1 race car)
    4) the additional room might be useful for luggage or mail or ..

    • Thanks Rob,
      Interesting isn’t it that the railways haven’t changed in many ways since the Rainhill Trials of 1829. You have started me thinking about F1 upgrades to railways…the major cost is installing and maintaining the track itself…

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