This is the WCRB report commissioned to combine the reports from several countries and governments to provide a detailed analysis on the state of the world's transport infrastructure and non-automobile-related vehicle production.
Doomsday utterly changed the face of the world's transport infrastructure. The road travel around the world was devastated by the event as most of the countries with large road infrastructure were destroyed by Doomsday. With oil supplies reduced to a trickle most mechanised forms of transport that couldn't be converted to bio-diesel were abandoned in favour of horses. By the time of writing it is estimated around 95% of roads worldwide have been overgrown to the point of being unusable.
In their place, railways have become the largest way of transporting passengers and goods and many countries have had to radically reshape their transport infrastructure. The most radical reformation has been in air travel where jet based aircraft have been almost entirely replaced by airships and piston engined aircraft.
This report was commissioned by WCRB officials when it was discovered that the nearly every government had commissioned some form of report on transport infrastructure. Consequently there was a desire by the WCRB to produce a comprehensive report detailing transport across the whole world not just within certain regions. As well as incorporating aspects of local reports WCRB officials travelled around the world to get a first-hand view of the situation, in the process gaining valuable information on international travel methods.
Jet & Turboprop Aircraft
Prior to Doomsday air travel by jet craft had been one of the world's fastest growing industries. People were travelling far and wide and cheaper ticket prices meant that people were travelling even more. During Doomsday all planes in the air above the US and most of the USSR were crippled by EMP damage and crashed killing all on board. Aircraft above Europe and Asia were forced to try to land in non-nuked countries with some making it to Norway, Northern Africa, South America and Australia. Now jet travel is a rarity in most of the world as very few countries have the capacity to refine the Kerosene that jet engines need, most jets are operated by military organisations with the exceptions being in the South American Confederation, Nordic Union,the USSR, the Celtic Alliance and the CANZ. Turboprop aircraft work on the same principal as jet engines but have a propeller attached to the turbine, they are simpler to make than jet aircraft and are more fuel efficient. They had seem limited use prior to Doomsday but are now popular amongst nations with small oil reserves and unreliable refinement procedures looking to preserve fuel. They have seen use as the primary new built fast aircraft in air forces and some are in use as airliners in the richer parts of the world.
Piston Engined Aircraft
Prior to doomsday most piston engined aircraft were privately owned with very few being owned by corporations for light air transport. Piston driven aircraft have made a massive comeback since Doomsday and now make up the majority of heavier than air flights, most stable nations operate piston engined aircraft in there air force and as airliners. Piston engined aircraft are cheaper to make than jet and turboprop aircraft but are still to expensive for some small nations.
Rigid AirshipsRigid airships are rapidly becoming the fastest growing form of air transport. Being cheap to manufacture and being able to carry equivalent loads of cargo to a small ship. Rigid airships are one of the most useful aircraft available to developing nations: they're quicker than ships both in terms of speed and route of travel (they can move over land) and are far less fuel-hungry than conventional aeroplanes. The only major difficulty in them comes in their construction; large hangars are required to house airships under construction, and the hydrogen stocks required for construction are costly to produce. A further difficulty comes in the creation of gasbags, which are made from cow intestine, which in some countries are hard to procure. Once these problems are overcome, though, they are normally the only way of transporting goods by air for the smaller nations due to their cheapness and easiness to build.
Several companies make rigid airships, but the most famous are:
- The New Zeppelin Company based in the Kingdom of Prussia which builds Hydrogen airships based on the original Graf Zeppelin for export. It also runs a school for the training of ground and air crews of zeppelins given their complexity in landing operations.
- The African Airship Association which was formed by several African companies so that cheap air travel could be provided for Africans. It produces smaller airships than the New Zeppelin Company but its products are cheaper and faster to build.
Some oppose the usage of hydrogen in airships, fearing Hindenburg-style disasters. The common retort is the Hindenburg was an isolated incident and that dangerous air travel is often better than no air travel whatsoever.
In the weeks and months following Doomsday semi-rigid airships and blimps using hot air became the normal form of air travel in much of the northern hemisphere. Because of their flexibility, cheapness and speed in construction these aircraft were the norm in most survivor states as a way to undertake reconnaissance over there countries. However, for anything more than this they soon quickly proved impractical; not only were they most functional only at dawn, they were practically incapable of lifting cargo in significant quantities and at a cheap cost: (for example, to carry a single, fully-loaded shipping container would need around forty normal hot air balloons or a single balloon 900 feet tall and a massive investiture of fuel, a task beyond the engineering capabilities of most nations in the immediate aftermath of Doomsday).
With oil much scarcer than it once was and most of the world's large road infrastructure destroyed in Doomsday or rendered useless from abandonment in the years after road vehicles are far rarer in most parts of the world. In some countries with a large supply of oil and the remaining first world countries (Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand, the SAC, USSR and the West African Union ) road vehicles are still common but in the majority of the less economically developed countries road vehicles are a rarity. Most families in the oil-rich or first world countries only own a single car, as the fuel cost of two is prohibitive, and motorcycles have claimed a larger share of the vehicle market due to their better fuel economy. In the same way many trucking companies have been forced out of business or forced to convert to railways for long-distance journeys. Nonetheless advances have been made in electric vehicles in recent years and attention has been raised to the prospect of hydrogen based cars, though it is generally accepted that commercially viable hydrogen-run cars, let alone the infrastructure to support them, are decades away at best.
Certain states, particularly in North America, Europe, large areas of Asia and parts of Africa, have reverted to using horse-drawn carriage for transportation, though the prevalence of this varies depending on the horse breeds present and the availability of food to spare for the animals. Any land vehicles in these areas are generally adapted to run on locally-produced bio-fuels and in the possession of the government or military.
Due to the decline of motor vehicles after Doomsday, bicycles and their three wheeled relatives have become the principle mode of transportation in the majority of nations, having the advantages of being powered by their rider rather than an engine and being relatively easy to construct and maintain. In addition to the standard bike used for personal transportation there are also a number of freight bicycles and tricycles of various designs, as well as various varieties of bicycle taxi in some countries. Initially all such vehicles in the nations most affected by Doomsday were either manufactured pre-Doomsday (often with later modifications to allow them to transport cargo) or cobbled together from whatever parts were available, but more recently those countries with the necessary manufacturing capabilities have started producing their own, either for domestic use or for export.
Like airships and sea transport railways have made a massive comeback since Doomsday. The rail industry had started to die out before Doomsday but most countries now have some form of railway. Most survival states in Africa, South America, and Asia make use of extensive railways. Analysts have noted a disproportionately high usage of railway in UK survivor states, which are run either on coal or electricity and have in many places replaced road usage for transport. It is thought this comes as a result of both convenience for the nations and (depending on who you ask) a subconscious British love for railways, coupled with the old nation's expertise at train transport. The ANZC and SAC both have decently sized railway systems, though the presence of cars has reduced the need for alternative transportation.
Most countries continue to operate the same types of vehicles they used on Doomsday, or modernised variants thereof. The two most advanced tanks in the world are the Leopard 2 operated by the Alpine Confederation and North Germany, and the T-90 operated by the USSR.
In less developed regions motorized vehicles are unheard of due to lack of access to fossil fuels. In these regions horses and horse drawn vehicles are popular. For example, the nomads of North America use modified Conestoga wagons and mobile yurts.
Cruise liners and ferries were falling out of popularity prior to Doomsday, being relegated more to the 'holiday' market, but the loss of air transport and the damage to the road industry has meant that liners and ferries have made a significant comeback since doomsday and are now undeniably the most prevalent and easiest way of transporting passengers around the world. Most countries with a coastline have at least one shipping company, nationalised or otherwise, that takes passengers. Passenger vessels can vary enormously in size, propulsion and method of construction. In the first world countries the ships are mostly purpose built steel hulled diesel powered liners; in the second world countries (Africa & parts of Asia) the ships are also purpose built but are generally steam powered and smaller. In the rest of the world the ships are normally converted from older vessels and are powered in a variety of ways, ranging from electricity to steam to sail. Some countries have been forced to press river ships into service as ocean-going vessels, with varying success (Essex, for example, utilises canal boats linked together to create a more stable catamaran design for coastal duties).
Unlike passenger vessels cargo freighters were still in large use before Doomsday as they were (and still are) the cheapest way of moving bulk goods around the world. Piracy remains a large problem to shipping companies and most nations assign patrol boats to protect their containers. The majority of cargo ships in the world are heavily serviced originals from before Doomsday but recently some nations have started to build their own container ships as replacements or to expand their merchant fleets. In the first years following Doomsday many cargo vessels were used as passenger vessels as well, carrying large numbers of refugees overseas in dreadful conditions (for instance by the British people in their exodus to New Britain).
Though most coastal countries, and some landlocked nations with rivers, have navies, most of the vessels are not purpose built. First World countries are lucky enough to have been able to maintain most of their pre-Doomsday military vessels or possess the industry to construct their own. The Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand has commanded several dozen formerly NATO vessels since the Gathering Order. Other countries are not so lucky, often forced to fall back on old coastguard and customs vessels, or even refitted pleasure craft to serve their naval needs. For the most part these vessels are used in combat against pirates along coasts or rivers, and sometimes for exploration. The WCRB is currently unaware of any major naval battles.
Oil was in particularly short supply after Doomsday, and in most former first world nations it had been exhausted within a few years. The Middle East and other oil-rich areas, however, still possessed oil extraction and refinement facilities, allowing them to still make use of petroleum products to fuel their vehicles. Elsewhere, however, new options had to be found.
Coal is rather more plentiful, leading to a resurgence in the use of steam engines, primarily for trains and ships, as well as one or two more recent innovations such as the coal-produced synthetic oil produced in the Virginian Republic.
Bio-fuel is a type of fuel whose energy is derived from biological carbon fixation. Bio-fuels include fuels derived from biomass conversion, as well as solid biomass, liquid fuels and various bio-gases. Although fossil fuels have their origin in ancient carbon fixation they are not considered bio-fuels by the generally accepted definition because they contain carbon that has been "out" of the carbon cycle for a very long time. Bio-fuels gained a drastic increase in attention, research and general use and importance after Doomsday due to the shortage or outright absence of oil.
Bio-diesel refers to a vegetable oil- or animal fat-based diesel fuel consisting of long-chain alkyl esters. Bio-diesel is typically made by chemically reacting lipids (e.g, vegetable oil, animal fat (tallow) with an alcohol producing fatty acid esters.
Bio-diesel is meant to be used in standard diesel engines and is thus distinct from the vegetable and waste oils used to fuel converted diesel engines. Bio-diesel can be used alone, or blended with petrodiesel. The feedstock used varies from area to area, for instance the European nations tend to favour rapeseed oil.
Vegetable Oil as Fuel
Like bio-diesel, unprocessed vegetable oil can be used to fuel diesel engines although modification is necessary and improper use (e.g. failing to warm the oil to lower the viscosity) can seriously damage the engine.
Alcohol has been used as fuel throughout history and like all bio-fuels it increased in importance after Doomsday.
Biologically produced alcohols, most commonly ethanol, and less commonly propanol and butanol are produced through the fermentation of sugars or starches (easiest), or cellulose (which is more difficult). Bio-butanol (also called bio-gasoline) is often claimed to provide a direct replacement for gasoline, because it can be used directly in a gasoline engine (in a similar way to bio-diesel in diesel engines).
Ethanol fuel is the most common bio-fuel worldwide, particularly in Brazil. Alcohol fuels are produced by fermentation of sugars derived from wheat, corn, sugar beet, sugar cane, molasses and other any sugar or starch that alcoholic beverages can be made from (like potato and fruit waste, etc.).
Ethanol can be used in petrol engines as a replacement for gasoline; it can be mixed with gasoline to any percentage. Most existing car petrol engines can run on blends of up to 15% bio-ethanol with petroleum/gasoline. Ethanol has a smaller energy density than gasoline; this fact means that it takes more fuel (volume and mass) to produce the same amount of work.
Butanol (C4H9OH) is formed by ABE fermentation (acetone, butanol, ethanol) and experimental modifications of the process show potentially high net energy gains with butanol as the only liquid product. Butanol will produce more energy and allegedly can be burned "straight" in existing gasoline engines (without modification to the engine or car), and is less corrosive and less water soluble than ethanol, and could be distributed via existing infrastructures.
Wood gas is a syngas produced by partly burning biomass or other organic material in an oxygen controlled environment. It can be used to fuel internal combustion engines although with a number of drawbacks including the necessity of having to attach a heavy and cumbersome gasifier to the vehicle, having to carry bulky fuel, reduced engine output, reduced convenience due to it taking the gasifier some time to get up to working temperature with the ashes from the previous use having to be removed before hand, and the fact that the gas produced contains large amounts of carbon monoxide before it is combusted which makes a leak and/or parking in a confined space potentially fatal.Never the less, during WWII the majority of motor vehicles in Europe were converted to run on wood gas due to the war rendering more conventional fuels unavailable. Although this state of affairs didn’t last after the war when petrol and diesel once more became available, after Doomsday there were enough survivors with the necessary know-how and/or printed information for wood gas to make a comeback when the oil supplies ran out. Despite a number of accidents and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in the early days due to poorly made gasifiers, necessity led people to persevere and improvements were made. Today it is a major fuel source in a number of countries, particularly for civilian vehicles (due to the various drawbacks associated with wood gas, most military forces generally prefer to use bio-diesel when possible), and in many places the crude home-made gasifiers that caused so many problems have given way to more professionally made ones. In countries where the use of wood gas is particularly prevalent there are even “petrol stations” dotted along the roads selling wood and other forms of biomass and in a few places coppices have been established to meet demands for firewood.
- African Airlines An multinational airline that works in co-operation with the African Airship Association to provide cheap air travel on the African continent.
- New Zeppelin Company The world's premier manufacturers of hydrogen airships.