A patent from 1973 for a “controlled thermonuclear fusion reaction”, UFO-like train has recently been uncovered and published on the BBC web site. The same article surfaced after some BBC Radio 2 research a while back that I found through google.
After some further research, I managed to track down the original patent document through its electronic counterpart on the European Patent Office’s web site. The registrants were BRITISH RAILWAYS BOARD
The present invention relates to a space vehicle. More particularly it relates to a power supply for a space vehicle which offers a source of sustained thrust for the loss of a very small mass of fuel. Thus it would enable very high velocities to be attained in a space vehicle and in fact the prolonged acceleration of the vehicle may in some circumstances be used to simulate gravity.
It goes onto say:
According to the present invention there is provided a space vehicle including a platform, a thermonuclear fusion zone provided at the underside of said platform, means for supplying fusion material to said zone, one or more lasers to provide for ignition of said fusion material at said fusion zone, magnetic means on said platform adapted to deflect charged particles emitted from said fusion zone and a plurality of electrodes on said platform adapted to receive charged particles emitted from said fusion zone to thereby provide a source of electrical power.
If only they’d foreseen the state of the railways today… Perhaps they could have put some of this thermonuclear and laser technology to use to keep out trains on time and in a reasonable budget…
The full patent entry on esp@cenet