Alternative Transport Concepts

Basically commercial shipping can be seen as a well-proven method of crossing water, but it requires a certain infrastructure and considerable planning of timetables and finances.

There are conventional methods by which a ship’s transport efficiency can be improved by increasing its speed, but they are subject to physical limitations.  In the efforts to increase transport efficiency on water there have been several, very varying developments.

Hydrofoils, in which the bow of the boat almost lifts out of the water on stilts and the stern touches the water, were one of the first and most innovative systems.

Hovercrafts, in which an apron is used to contain a static cushion of air produced by the boat, were also in fairly common use.

Both systems have the disadvantage of high energy costs and cannot run if there are high waves. It was this that finally led to a drop in demand and to the ferry service across the English Channel (Calais – Dover) being discontinued.

More successful concepts for ferries and passenger ships which remain stable in high waves are the semi-submersible catamarans and air cushion catamarans, although these vehicles do not reach such high speeds.

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