The rail is constructed as 20 m long modules. It is built around a standard I-beam of steel. The rail wheels run on the "shoulders" of the rail. The I-beam is covered by plates and fibre concrete. The internal space in the rail can be used for all kinds of installations for the RUF system as well as for the city. It is much cheaper to run a cable within a RUF rail than to bury it in the streets.
Rail switching is obtained without moving any rail components. The dual-mode principle can be used to switch from one rail to another. The switching actions are as follows:
A disadvantage is that every RUF vehicle has to be slowed down to 30 km/h at switching areas. Since the switching area is very small, the average speed of the system is still high. In a fully developed RUF system, there will be long distance rails where the distance between switching areas is > 20 km, allowing for greater speeds.
The MAXI-RUF is a large RUF with room for 10 passengers. It is still a dual-mode vehicle, but it is only used on the rail system as an Automated People Mover (APM). It is approximately 6 m long and contains two rows of seats, 5 seats on each side of the channel. Access to the seats is obtained via large doors which are top-hinged so that they open like large wings. The passengers can go directly from the seat to the platform so loading and unloading is very fast. The seats in the front are turned 180 degrees so that passengers can communicate with fellow passengers in the next seat. All other seats are individual seats. The front seats are fold-up seats so that there can be room for a wheelchair and a baby carriage. The MAXI-RUF drives between off-line stations and the passengers in MAXI-RUF trains are seated intelligently so that every MAXI-RUF drives non-stop from one station to its destination. Every passenger in the vehicle is going to the same station, so nobody needs to worry when to get off. This is not possible with normal APMs or trains. A special version of a MAXI-RUF can be equipped with a drivers seat in order to function as a flexible mini-bus.
A privately-owned RUF driver only pays for the use of the rail and the power supplied to the RUF during rail travel. The amount can be accumulated over some time and collected as a monthly payment. The system only keeps track of the amount, not of the pattern of movement unless the user requests it. The electricity used to recharge the RUF overnight is paid via the normal household electric bill payment. The power plants can supply cheap power during the night because they have unused capacity during this period. A public RUF is rented by the user. A personal smart card is used instead of tickets. Damage is prevented because the user can be identified by the system via the personal smart card. The computer in the RUF only remembers the last user, so when the next user has ended his trip, the previous user is automatically erased from the memory. It is possible to have flexible fares which can be negotiated via the built-in data display. If, for example, a RUF arrives at a rail at a time where the flow is moderate, the system will prefer that a train of maybe 10 RUFs is formed in order to save energy. Some RUF vehicles have already arrived, but they are not in a hurry and they want to drive as cheap as possible. The next RUF though is in a hurry and the driver asks the computer for the price for the case of immediate departure. The display shows the price and if the user accepts the (higher) price, the RUF-train departs at once. The other RUF drivers only pay the low fare, so everybody is happy.
Since the RUF APM offers non-stop transportation from station to station, it is very easy to use the system. You don't have to keep an eye on the names of the stations to know when to get off. The RUF simply stops at the station where you want to get off. There are no standing places in a RUF APM. Access to the seats is extremely easy, since the doors open so that you can step directly from the platform to your seat. The height of the seat is optimized so that minimum force is used to get up and down from the seat. Every MAXI-RUF has room for two wheelchairs. The two first seats in each row can be folded to make room for the wheel chair. The level of the platform equals the bottom of the MAXI-RUF so that it is possible to drive onboard without assistance. A special version of the MAXI-RUF can be equipped with a driver's seat so that it can operate both on the rail system and on the normal streets. A chauffeur can help elderly and disabled people to get access to the MAXI-RUF directly from their residence.
Compared to normal rail or a new highway lane in a large city, it is easy to find room for the slender RUF rail. The rail consists of 20 m long modules with a triangular cross section. The height is approximately 1 m and the width at the baseline is also about 1 m. It can be placed on top of masts at a height of 4 m. This placement will give maximum flexibility and eliminate barrier effects. It can also be placed at ground level, but then it must be screened from the surroundings because the rail includes electrical power for the RUFs. It can also be placed in tunnel tubes. In this case, 3 rails can be placed in a tube of the same diameter needed for a normal train. Because the RUF is a dual-mode system, the rails only have to cover a city with the same density as a highway network. The RUF can use the normal roads to drive from the rail to the destination. The visual impact of a RUF rail is much less than that of other elevated train systems. The rail is more slender and the vehicles are much lower (typically 1.65 m compared to 3.5 m for a normal train). Furthermore, the RUFs "ride" on top of the triangular rail in such a way that only the upper 1 m of the vehicle is visible above the rail. On the other hand, they travel much more frequently than normal trains. In elevated systems in cities, it is very important how noisy the system is. The rail wheels of the RUF are rubber wheels with a smooth surface so the noise is very low. Furthermore, the rail wheels are partly screened from the surroundings by the vehicle itself so very little noise will escape to the surroundings. A very interesting possibility is to convert the fast lane of a 6 (or more) lane highway into a RUF rail. It would further reduce the construction costs of the rail and it would dramatically increase the traffic capacity of the highway. The car drivers who convert to RUF will immediately experience a dramatic reduction in congestion that they face.
A subway with RUF rails offers some very interesting possibilities. First of all, a standard diameter tunnel tube can contain 3 RUF rails, so the cost is much lower than the cost of a subway based upon ordinary rail systems. Secondly, it is possible to create a RUF subway, where the stations are at surface level. People do not like to use underground stations, but normally it is not possible to let the train rise to ground level at stations, because trains cannot climb steep slopes. The RUF has a special drive system which allows the RUF to have much higher traction if it is needed. The maximum traction force of a train is limited by the friction between the steel rail and the wheels. This friction is proportional to the weight of the vehicle. In a RUF system, the drive wheels work independent of the weight so there is no limit to the traction force. This means that a RUF can climb rather steep slopes, so stations can be placed at ground level. Stations are still off-line, so the main rail can remain in a tube underground. With stations at ground level, gravity will help accelerate and decelerate the RUFs so energy consumption could be further reduced.
In a fully developed RUF system, all relevant land areas will be covered with RUF rail networks with a mesh size of < 20 km. In this future situation, every location can be reached with a RUF. In the meantime, users will occasionally need to drive more than 25 km away from the rail. If the user still owns a normal car, he could use that for the long trip, but the RUF offers some possibilities also. When the RUF is not on the rail, it has an empty space along the bottom of the vehicle. This space could be used to mount a "hybrid unit" which consist of a generator making current for the RUF, a motor (gasoline) running at constant speed and optimized for maximum efficiency and minimum pollution, and a gasoline tank. The RUF user could rent a hybrid unit from the gas station, mount it in a short period of time and continue on as a hybrid electric car with a range of several hundred kilometers.
Since the switching and rail travel is fully automatic, it is possible to have driverless containers for small goods on the rail system. In a fully developed rail system, RUF containers could replace a large portion of the very problematic transport of goods on large trucks. One large truck creates as much damage to the roads as 10,000 normal cars! The mechanical coupling between RUFs can be used to couple two RUFs together on normal roads also. This means that a RUF container can be brought directly to the destination as a trailer driven by a normal RUF. RUF containers would typically use the rail network during the night when the traffic from normal RUFs is low and the current is cheap. The system has full control over the movements of the container so it is easy to predict when it will arrive.
A privately owned RUF can be parked as a normal car. It can also be parked automatically if the RUF system includes automatic parking facilities via the rail system. In this case, the owner leaves the RUF at a station nearby his destination and sends it away automatically while he continues to his destination by walking. A public RUF has more possibilities. It can be parked as a normal car and reserved so that it is ready when the user needs it again, although he will have to pay extra for the reservation. It can be left almost anywhere in the city, because it is reused by others. It can also be parked at a special "parking rail" where the RUFs are parked quite close and recharged while they wait for a new user. The new user takes the first RUF on the rail using his personal smart card. When he has finished, he parks it at the rear end of the parking rail. The user might also obtain a bonus if he parks the RUF at a parking rail. In this way, RUFs are reused many times during the day and after work, the private RUF users can take their RUF and drive it all the way home to their residence where it can be recharged and protected against vandalism. The result is that the city will be relieved from the obligation of protecting all of the parked RUF vehicles. The RUF operator (who owns the public RUFs) will save money since they will not need as much storage capacity.
In the situation where a large city has a RUF system with public RUFs covering the whole city, but not the rural areas surrounding it, some users will still need a normal car because they live more than 50 km from the rail system. These users can be very well served with a RUF Park and Ride system. Normally in a Park and Ride system, you park the car at a large parking lot, walk several hundred meters to the train platform and wait for a train to arrive. In a RUF system, you drive to the parking place and park your car quite close to a public RUF waiting at the same parking place. You walk a few meters to the RUF and drive immediately to the rail and depart towards the city.