Exclusive - Moles Could Outrun Trucks

In a bid to bypass ever more congested roads in the United Kingdom, British company Mole Solutions is studying a revolutionary high-tech concept of constructing a vast underground network of pipes to transport freight and parcel shipments. The Mole Cargo Network could reduce road congestions and thus develop into a competitor to trucking firms.

Mole concept in action  /  company courtesy
Mole concept in action / company courtesy

´Mole’s transport system relies on magnetic levitation – or Maglev – which is responsible for propelling the world’s fastest train, the Shanghai Maglev train, which instead of an engine, is driven by a magnetic field created by electrified coils in a “guideway”.

Cargo going underground
Cambridge-based Mole Solutions is looking at whether its new concept could be used in Northampton. If it decides it could, a small-scale scheme would be piloted in the area and, if successful, within a few years the ground beneath the town could be criss-crossed with cargo traveling in capsules through subterranean pipelines.

Mole Solutions’ chief, Roger Miles, a former supply chain analyst at energy group Exxon, said: “Road congestion is a global issue and we could take a significant volume of traffic off the roads, not just in the UK but in countries like China and India.”

Green solution
Miles pointed out that underground pipes are already used to transport water and oil across long distances and the same concept could be applied to international courier services to revolutionize the industry and reduce congestion and pollution.

The technology could also be good for industry, reducing the time and money used distributing products around the country, Mr Miles added. He is also in talks with other major centres of traffic congestion with a view to installing his technology there and says that, even if the Northampton project doesn’t go ahead, there is no reason why the concept can’t be used elsewhere in the UK or abroad.

Industry shows interest
The Northampton pilot is partly funded by the UK government, while a host of companies have become involved in the project, including DHL, transport and property group Peel Holdings, and construction firm Laing O’Rourke.

By using underground freight pipelines to carry goods in capsules to consolidation centres for collection, the Mole network could significantly reduce urban congestion and pollution levels.

Nol van Fenema

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