I don’t know if I was the first but I figure it helps to share.
The Basic Idea
Here’s what you do. Place three rails, add a space and then another three. Repeat for as far as you need this to go. center a cargo wagon on each set of three rails. (If it is not centered it won’t work properly) then in the spaces between the rail sets you have four long-handed inserters going the direction you want your resources to go. You must provide power. If done right it will be eight tiles long and two wide. The resources will reach your destination faster and if you load and unload them at the ends with stack inserters it will still outperform the express belt with the same loading and offloading.
The test I conducted, if you wish to duplicate it, is thus.
I set up the wagon inserter system to be six segments long, replacing the long inserters at the end with a single stack inserter to a chest.
Below it I set up an express belt line that went the same distance and also unloaded with a single stack inserter to a chest. The test item was a stack of copper wires. Both chests had their own lights set to turn on when 200 copper wires (a stack) was detected in their respective chests.
The loading had two separate wooden chests, each with a stack of copper wires in them, with one stack loader for each. One loading onto the wagons and one onto the belt. The loaders do not have power at the beginning of the test and the test starts when I place a pole down to connect them at the same time.
The wagon and inserter method took 2 seconds to reach the destination chest and 15 seconds to put a stack of wires in the destination chest. The express way took 6 seconds to reach the destination chest and 24 seconds to put a stack in the destination chest. This is with all research unlocked.
One segment of the wagon and inserters requires one cart, three rails and four long-handed inserters. For the sake of completion, the electric poles used were medium poles centered on the nearest inserters to the wagon for their segment. Only one was needed per segment.
It requires eight express belts for the same length.
The material cost of one cart segment from raw is: 140 iron ore for the wagon. 16.5 iron ore and 3 stone for the rails, 28 iron ore and 6 copper ore for the long-handed inserters and 12 iron ore and 2 copper ore for the medium electric pole.
Total cost for the wagon inserter segment: 196.5 iron ore, 8 copper ore and 3 stone.
Total material cost for eight express belts from raw is: 252 iron ore and 160 lubricant.
It’s faster than express, has a much larger internal capacity than express, each segment can be split in eighteen directions (including one end) without causing spaghetti, has the same throughput if not better and is significantly cheaper as well as available earlier. Possibly a good main bus for large-scale resources.
I did not test how it compares to a regular locomotive for long-distance transport but the winner for that one seems obvious.
If anyone else has figured this out too let me know.
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