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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2016 6:16 am 
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atpollard wrote:
Where is this 'cheap' Air Raft of which you speak? ;)


The problem of prices and the lack of economy in Traveller is something I think anyone who's played the game is well-aware of, right down to the inconsistent pricing and the lack of effects of the economies-of-scale. I don't expect them to have gotten it perfect; they were writing a game, not an economics textbook. But when a question is something like "would they have trains?" like the OP asked, I think factors such as economics do need to be taken into account.

It's my belief that given how effective and useful contra-grav would be and the way it is used in Traveller, should be a lot cheaper than it is; it seems unlikely that you'd have CG lifters on every tramp freighter, grav tank, grav APC, lighter, and gig (those uses alone, even if military, would create a massive demand and corresponding economies-of-scale). Factor in that CG technology has been in use for millennia in the TU (since the Ziru Sirkaa), and the price of grav seems suspiciously high (at least to me). Contra-grav is not like modern aircraft engines which only have a few applications (though it can be argued that the economies of scale for turbine technology, also used in aircraft have allowed turbine-based applications to be used in a modern home, even if the turbine isn't running a propulsion system) - it's more like the wheel or at worst something like an electric motor; it's useful for everything. Even in Traveller, they do use them for robots, cargo loaders, and similar things.

Contra-grav would have a much higher initial investment in the mover itself, but the rest of the set-up and continuing investment is likely cheaper. With things like railways, it can cost upwards of a $1 million US per mile of track, average with many projects costing more per mile. A lot more, like double, triple, even more per mile, just to set it up (just 30 miles of track, that's a lot of those Air/Rafts you could buy instead even at Traveller MSRP). Then you add in the recurring cost of upkeep of the tracks, the missed opportunity cost from land that the lines take up, upkeep of bridges and tunnels, and so on is a significant cost. It's relatively cheap if the train is intended for passenger or only light freight in an area where conditions are stable, but heavy freight or storms or similar situations will make upkeep significant. Again, a lot of colony worlds are likely to use anti-gravity as a transport system because the costs of setting up track are prohibitive (even if it is cheaper than the modern US because a colony world probably won't have to pay for right-of-way which is a large percentage of the earlier quoted per-mile costs); even later when they're more wealthy they understand that a ground train system might be cheaper in the long run some situations, the upfront cost is going to be big turn-off. (I'm also not sure there'd be a long-term savings, though.)

A "sky train" (contra-grav) in contrast might still have to pay things like a kind of "virtual" right of way tax to keep traffic and other hazards out of its route, but it doesn't have to pay a recurring cost its physical ground support structure that it needs to function. Upgrades and repairs must made to the "train" itself, but that has something in common ground trains. The strangely expensive Traveller computers only need to be installed on the controller car - the other cargo modules don't need them. A sky-train or sky-bus is likely to be pretty economical; but I don't believe it is the kind of train that OP was referring to.

Devices and technology in Traveller seem to last a very long time; they're ridiculously durable (from examples I was able to glean from sources like T4) and given the slow pace of technological advancement that suggests that a given device may remain in service for many decades on end. This would benefit all devices, but if a grav vehicle and a ground train remain in service long enough, at some point, I think they should converge.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:58 am 
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EDG wrote:
Ugh, Train ticket pricing the UK is nuts. I think at one point (maybe they still do this?) they charge more for a single (one-way) to Lancaster from London Euston than a return!


It made the news when the first £1000 train ticket appeared in the UK! :shock:

The old policy on ticket pricing was something along the lines of if it costs £100 for a return ticket, we'll charge you £90 to £99 for a single. The government shouted at the various railway companies for doing this, and said they had to make singles significantly cheaper than returns. The way some of them have done this is to increase the price of the return! :roll: Hence me finding that a return ticket that used to cost £200 was now £400. :roll:


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 4:52 pm 
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Newly developing worlds and lower tech places further from the major trade routes would probably use a rail system to move people and products/produce. A world just in the process of beginning the settling and development process may not have the resources for fleets of grav cars and transports. A rail system would be a relatively inexpensive way to move things.

Having spent more time than I like in large metropolitan areas trains or subways (moving sidewalks??) probably make a lot more sense than trying to provide parking for the grav vehicle that each resident would want to own.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:04 pm 
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I used to think that too, then I thought about the rail cars and engines.

For a new colony, those items will have to shipped in. in the same space you would ship a train engine, you could ship a dozen or more grav cars or a couple hundred grav modules. Once you have the grav modules, you could easily mount them on sleds or even wooden wagons. By the time the colony has grown big enough to need to move large volumes of stuff (such as on a train), it could be handled by grav trucks. They will be faster and need significantly less infrastructure (who lays down the rails on your new colony?)

I really think that once Grav tech gets down to vehicle/personal size and energy, that everything else will fade away.

This is another area where I think Traveller fails. They develop these technologies between TL9 and TL11 and then never improve them.

In my opinion at TL8-11 gravitic technology should be big/bulky/power hungry. As the TL moves up it becomes cheaper/smaller/lighter, but still not something you put in a car - maybe a plane or tank, but not a car until TL11.

Then at TL12, there is a revolution as MicroGravity Control is developed. This leads quickly to Fusion Plus (micro fusion) and personal grav harnesses. At that point, anything other than gravitics is completely obsolete and by TL13 is only seen in museums. Most people use Air Rafts or Grav Harnesses to get around and large things are moved on grav trucks which are strung together and called trains, but can fly and even go orbital. Now it is more like Star Wars - a beast of burden pulling a grav sled...

Of course, that is now how it is described in the core books, but is sure makes a lot more sense to me.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 9:38 pm 
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Agatsu77 wrote:
Newly developing worlds and lower tech places further from the major trade routes would probably use a rail system to move people and products/produce. A world just in the process of beginning the settling and development process may not have the resources for fleets of grav cars and transports.

I suspect that many such worlds, especially those without wealthy sponsors, would use beasts of burden. They do not require a technological infrastructure (mechanics, power, and so on), they can handle almost any kind of terrain, and if treated well they tend to create more beasts of burden (grav cars or railways don't do that ...).


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:43 am 
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atpollard wrote:
Where is this 'cheap' Air Raft of which you speak? ;)


According to what I've heard, T5 lists an Air/Raft's price as 50k Cr. :o


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 6:29 pm 
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It's the extra grav modules needed to carry around that honkin' huge rulebook ;)

Is it really 656 pages?


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