CAPTION: Japan’s Ground Effect Transportation System plans to start trials in 2002 with a proposed ’aero train’ using solar and wind power. Dieter calculates the likely energy requirements for operating a high-speed train from wind turbines

Blotto on the landscape

In order to advertise Beck’s beer to thirsty passengers on Britain’s West Coast main line between London and Birmingham, US crop artist Stan Herd has created a 183m high bottle on a hillside near Mentmore in Buckinghamshire. Herd planted wheat to represent the green glass and red poppies for the label, with the full impact of his work only apparent after six months of growth.

Used to working on the wide and flat open spaces of Kansas, the artist had to tackle a sloping site for his first European commission. Perspective had to be mastered in order to create the impression that the bottle stands up straight, a technique that is no doubt familiar to dedicated beer drinkers everywhere.

One careful owner (I)

News reaches Sidetrack from Australia that TNT has found a buyer for its Harbourlink monorail in Sydney, which has been on the market since last October. Opened in 1988 at a cost of A$65m, the 3·6 km line has seven stations and a 40-year operating concession expiring in 2038.

Neither TNT nor the purchaser, a consortium led by CGEA Transport, would disclose the price, but one newspaper gave the ’transport white elephant’ an estimated market value of ’a mere $20m’. The buyers now face the task of finding more riders amongst Sydneysiders who slammed the monorail as ’ugly and unnecessary’ even before it left the drawing board .

One careful owner (II)

Paula and Gary Evershed of Salt Lake City have purchased 60960m of redwood timber that once formed part of the trestle carrying Southern Pacific’s Lucin Cut-off across the Great Salt Lake between 1904 and 1959. Their Lovell Construction Co will convert the bridge timbers into deck chairs, tables, bird feeders and planters.

Gary Evershed told The Amicus Journal he was keen on using recycled timber, and ’the wood was just so darn beautiful that we had to buy it’. After the redwood, the Eversheds plan to make furniture from the Douglas fir pilings of the trestle.