The height of innovation?

Dan Peled hopes his patent-pending ‘train elevator’ will be incorporated into future railway projects.

Train elevator illustration 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Train elevator illustration 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As the government prepares to issue tenders for building the planned high-speed railway line from Beersheba to Eilat, a retired textile technician from Herzliya is hoping his environmentally friendly, patent-pending “train elevator” will be incorporated in parts of the 180- kilometer route.
“I have a vision,” says Dan Peled, 69.
“All my life I have had many ideas [for inventions] and have seen them later on the market. Now I am on half pension, so I have time to work on my ideas.”
The elevator would use a standing reservoir of water to lift or lower train cars in terrains of varying heights without the need for carving bypasses, digging tunnels or building bridges on which to lay tracks. As the proposed high-speed rail route is full of frequent elevation changes, it is estimated that more than 60 bridges and 9.5 km. of tunnels will be required because trains cannot travel at more than a two-degree angle.
Peled’s floating elevator would need no electricity except for the water pump, and it would recycle the same liquid over and over.
“When they started talking about a railway to Eilat and the differences in height along the route, it came to my mind that this elevator can be done to save much damage to the landscape, and to cut down on pollution and fuel,” says Peled.
He thinks it could be most helpful in the section of the route that passes through Mishor Rotem, near Dimona, where there is a drop of approximately 300 meters.
“This system allows for a difference in height of up to 400 m. between two terrains to be overcome. Every twometer elevation can save one kilometer of rails,” Peled says. “Building the train elevator would cost 20 percent less than regular train rails, even without taking into account the cost of tunnels or bridges.”
His train elevator could also be used for other mass-transit vehicles, with no restrictions on height or weight.
Peled presented his idea to the Environmental Protection Ministry, which he says gave him positive feedback, as well as to the Transportation Ministry. The latter referred him to an official at Israel Railways, who expressed theoretical interest in the invention but referred him to the Israel National Roads Company “because they are in charge of planning the route for the railway.”
Shimon Nesichi, chief scientist for the Israel National Roads Company, has the specs in hand, and Peled anticipates a meeting with him in the near future.
He has also presented the details of his train elevator to officials at Bombardier Transportation, the Canadian-based company that is the world’s largest manufacturer of trains and railway infrastructure.
“We put a lot of R&D into new railway systems, so it’s very interesting for us,” says Yossi Daskal, the Israel representative for Bombardier. “It’s a fresh idea.”
Daskal adds, however, that the system would be practical only in areas where a steep ascent or descent led to flat ground, such as from Tiberias up to the Golan Heights. The land on the Golan itself is relatively flat.
“I sent [Peled’s plan] to our expert at Bombardier Europe to check it out, and they say it’s a wonderful idea – but unfortunately only for a few limited areas. On the Eilat-Beersheba line, too, we will need more tunnels than elevators because it’s not a flat area. If we would ever want to build a railway from Haifa to Damascus, we could use this type of lift.”
Handling the Israeli and international patent applications for the train elevator is Luzzatto & Luzzatto, one of the largest patent law firms in the country.
“I cannot offer a professional opinion until the patent application is examined,” says partner Haim Chechic. “But we think it is potentially a good idea and it has a chance.
Since it’s environmentally friendly, we assume the Israeli Patent Office will examine the application soon, because ‘green’ patents are a category that has priority.”
Meanwhile, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the international patent system, has conducted a preliminary search and acknowledged that Peled’s invention is novel. The PCT did cite some prior existing patents in the same general category, as it usually does. Chechic says his firm has reviewed those patents and is confident they should not present a barrier to approval.
“Everyone who sees it thinks it’s a good idea,” says Peled, “but it needs somebody with a vision to get it done.”