News Brief Archives
News Briefs Archive
May 17 - July 31, 2004
Bombardier surprises for Seattle?
Seattle, Washington. Anticipation for the August
bids of Bombardier's Team Monorail and Hitachi's Cascadia Monorail
is building in the Seattle area. Little is known about what type
of system will be bid by each company, but some surprises may
be in store. Cascadia is expected to promote a monorail based
on the time-proven designs used in Japan, however with aesthetic
improvements for the American market. Team Monorail was expected
to suggest their M-VI monorails, a variation of trains used in
Walt Disney World and the recently-opened Las Vegas Monorail.
A recent article in a Seattle newspaper indicates there may be
surprises in store from Bombardier's team. Seattle Weekly says
Team Monorail is coming up with new "state-of-the-art driverless
monorail trains with open, walk-through capability and 360-degree
views." Walk-through trains have been the subject of much
discussion amongst monorailists and interested parties in Seattle.
If the Weekly's assertion is true, it may be that Bombardier
has decided to come up with a larger train for Seattle and other
potential markets before Hitachi can take advantage of their
time-proven walk-through trains. The legal battles over the Monorail
Recall initiative and the August due date for the Seattle Monorail
Project bids make for exciting times in Seattle.
Seattle Monorail Project website
Media. Seattle Weekly, 7/28/04.
Make Mine Walk-through. Editorial
by Kim Pedersen
courtesy of Lawrence Livermore Labs
General Atomics maglev tests
San Diego, California. Lawrence Livermore Lab's
(LLL) physicist concept for a safer, cheaper and simpler method
to levitate urban and high-speed trains is undergoing tests at
General Atomics facility in San Diego. Richard Post's
design uses unique configurations of powerful, permanent magnets,
called Halbach arrays, to create its levitating fields. An online
article on LLL's website is giving us our first look at the test
vehicle and track at General Atomics. The first test article
does not include a passenger vehicle, as the first object of
testing is to prove the so-called Inductrack system. According
to LLL, the system is fail-safe upon loss of power, and simpler
and lower in cost than current maglev systems. Hall Industries
of Pennsylvania provided the full-scale chassis unit, which includes
water tanks to test performance with varying weights. A 120-meter
test track has been built for the tests.
Livermore Labs Maglev article
Monorail Society Maglev Monorail Technical
Metrail proposed for Brighton
Brighton, England. The Brighton Monorail and Tram
Company is proposing a monorail to link Palace Pier and Brighton
Pier. Together, the piers have 8.5 million visitors each year.
The Brighton Bullet would run along Madeira Drive at ground level.
A mid-route station would be at Black Rock, where Brighton International
Arena and other public gathering places are located. The 1.5-mile
line would use the new hybrid-powered Metrail monorail technology.
Metrail has a test track in Malaysia. An upcoming Monorail Society
DVD by David M. Ice on Malaysia's monorails will feature
outstanding footage of the Metrail test track. The Brighton system
will be fully automated if built. Brighton Monorail says financing
has been arranged and upon approval the line could be operational
within two years.
Brighton Bullet Website
Las Vegas opening numbers
Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas Monorail officials
like what they see! Over 30,500 people boarded the Las Vegas
Monorail on Thursday, the system's first day of public operations.
Ticket sales surpassed $98,000. "We're thrilled with the
response we received to our first day of carrying passengers
on the Las Vegas Monorail," said James Gibson, chairman
and CEO of Transit Systems Management, which oversaw the project.
Monorail Society members were among the first to test the system,
and a TMS pictorial special of the newly-opened system is online!
Monorail Society Special Features.
See the opening day, six-page pictorial!
Opening day, July 15, 2004
Las Vegas Monorail!
The Las Vegas Monorail is
Las Vegas, Nevada. Monorail Society members gathered
today to celebrate the opening of the Las Vegas Monorail. A good
time was had by all (we believe) and there is much to share.
Tonight's brief is very brief, but we will post details and photographs
of the event and spectacular new system soon! The media was out
in full force for the opening, so it's possible to get news stories
about it by typing in "Las Vegas Monorail" on the following
page: Google News Search
One of many pictures taken by TMS members during the opening...
photo courtesy of KOMO TV
Seattle fire cause (7/13/04)
Seattle, Washington. The reasons for the Seattle
Center Monorail Blue fire on Memorial Day were the result of
a series of malfunctions. Tom Albro, director of the Seattle
Center Monorail, stated "It all happened in about 60 seconds."
Albro went on to say that the cause is clear, but why the system
failed is still under investigation. The incident began with
a low-speed drive shaft breaking as it departed Seattle Center.
A high-speed drive shaft then failed as well, throwing off a
piece and damaging a collector shoe. The collector shoe short-circuited
and melted an aluminum housing. The air became ionized and the
positive and negative rails that power the train were no longer
insulated from one another. Electric current arced which caused
a flash fire. From that point on the fire quickly grew to engulf
tires and other combustibles in the undercarriage. Circuitbreakers
blew and brought the train to a halt. Smoke filled the cabin
and shortly thereafter Monorail Red and the fire department rescued
passengers. This was the first fire in the monorail's history,
which opened in 1962 for the Seattle Century 21 World's Fair.
Seattle Center and the Monorail are reporting substantial losses
now that the system is closed pending the outcome of the investigation.
Once operators are confident that safe operations can begin again,
the undamaged Red Train will run again. It's unknown if the fire-damaged
Blue Train will operate again, as the 1-mile system is slated
for demolition when the new 14-mile Seattle Green Line Monorail
is built along the same route.
fire on monorail retraced. Seattle P-I, 7/13/04.
Unusual events caused Seattle monorail fire. Seattle Times,
Monorack - small scale hill
Okayama City, Japan. You don't have to design your
own Niles Monorail to have a small scale
system. An amazing system has been developed in Japan by the
Nikkari Company in Japan. The company's beginnings date back
to 1959 when the company first developed a portable mowing machine.
In 1966, Nikkari debuted the Monorack M-1, the first of a series
of mini-monorails that continue to be built and sold to this
day. The M-1 was introduced to aid farmers maintain and harvest
their mandarin orange orchards. Because of the success of the
Monorack, various configurations have been developed over the
years for other small scale operations. The name "Monorack"
was coined from "work becomes easy," which is "monoraku"
in Japanese. The monorack system provides easy transportation
of people and loads on slopes without the need to cut down down
trees or clear large areas. As the Nikkari website states, Monoracks
can be used in the construction or maintenance of dams or power
transmission steel towers, for farming on inclined land, harvesting
of orchards, and for carrying people or luggage at leisure facilities.
We suggest you might want one for your backyard too!
Monorack Page-English (don't miss the Monorack video on the
Album of Site" page. Note: image quality is poor)
Co. Ltd. Home Page-English
Seattle Council: street alignment
Seattle, Washington. There was applause in the
City Council chambers yesterday, the vote was 8-0 to approve
the transitway agreement for the 14-mile Green Line monorail.
Councilman Jim Compton complimented the Seattle Monorail
Project for presenting "a stirringly competent and effective
team." The agreement includes a $54 million removal bond
if the system can't be completed, it requires an independent
financial review and another City Council vote to affirm the
monorail project can raise enough cash to finish the $1.75 billion
line. The system design details will be revealed when two teams
bidding to build the system make their bids in August. The unanimous
council vote was a major blow to anti-monorail forces, and a
major victory for monorail proponents. We're one more major step
closer in Seattle!
backers win a round as Seattle Council OKs agreement. Seattle
City Council adds monorail conditions. Seattle P-I, 7/7/04.
Seattle Monorail Project website
TMS Viva Las Vegas Day (7/3/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Members of the Monorail Society
(TMS) will gather for a celebration on opening day of the Las
Vegas Monorail. The monorail will open to the public for the
first time at 8:00 AM on Thursday, July 15th and TMS intends
to be there for the historic moment. TMS President Kim Pedersen
and Vice President Keith Walls will enjoy some of the
first rides with fellow members. Pedersen said, "Since the
Monorail Society was formed in 1989, this is the largest monorail
system to open in America. I look forward to meeting up and enjoying
the moment with VP Keith and other TMS members that have been
saying they HAVE to be there!" There will be no fee to participate
in the festivities, other than the expenses of getting there,
accomodations and purchasing tickets. Bring some money for TMS Store items too, a limited number
of hats, t-shirts and DVDs will be available for purchase. The
TMS Viva Las Vegas Day headquarters will be at the Sahara Resort,
which has the northernmost monorail station of the 4-mile system.
It also happens to have reasonable hotel room rates, especially
if you use their Sahara
Resort Website online reservation system. The agenda plan
is as follows:
- Wednesday June 14th;
Media and VIP Party. Unfortunately we are unable to invite members
to this event, but we certainly plan to cover the festivities
in an upcoming special feature on the website. Depending on schedule,
we may have a meeting of members in the evening however, a Monorail
Eve of sorts. TMS items will be available for purchase. Sign
up for the TMS Viva Las Vegas Day (see below) and we'll e-mail
you details before the event.
- Thursday July 15th; the
BIG DAY! TMS members will meet between 7:00 AM and 7:30 AM on
the Sahara Resort Monorail access pedestrian bridge, directly
over Paradise Road. If you aren't staying at the resort, there
usually is plenty of parking available by the station or in the
hotel multi-level garage. We'll buy monorail tickets and at 8:00
AM be among the first riders to experience the brand new Bombardier
M-VI trains. At approximately10:00 AM, a photography walking
tour of the monorail will commence, starting beneath the same
Sahara Station. This will not be for the faint of heart, because
it's likely that we might walk the four miles of the line to
get good picture angles. Of course you'll be able to bail out
along the way and jump on an air-conditioned monorail whenever
you choose. If you haven't heard, it gets hot in Las Vegas in
July, so dress accordingly. Remember the sunscreen and of course,
bring a camera. An afternoon break will be welcome at this point,
and some of us will be leaving town. For those staying into the
eve, a grand finale buffet dinner may be in order, then perhaps
some night monorail rides to enjoy the lights of Las Vegas from
a whole new view!
If you wish to attend, please contact the Monorail Society
and let us know by Sunday, July 11th. We'd like to get an idea
of how many folks will attend and share information with you.
We'll put you on a special e-mail update list. All plans are
subject to change. See you in Vegas, baby!
Las Vegas Monorail Website
Monorail Society Store (use PayPal
and will ship your hat or t-shirt right away by Priority Mail)
Las Vegas to open July 15!
Las Vegas, Nevada. We have a date! The much-anticipated
opening of the Las Vegas Monorail will be on Thursday, July 15th.
"We're eager to start carrying passengers on the Las Vegas
Monorail," said James Gibson, chairman and CEO of
Transit Systems Management, the management firm for the Las Vegas
Monorail. "This is a very rewarding day for all of us who
have devoted years to this project. It's the culmination of years
of hard work led by the late Robert N. Broadbent, whose
vision will become a reality on July 15." An estimated 20
million riders will board the sleek Bombardier M-VI trains each
year. Before the public gets a chance to ride, VIP passengers
will ride the Monorail during media and VIP events on Wednesday,
July 14. John Haycock, chairman of the board of Las Vegas
Monorail Company said "Completing a project of this magnitude
entirely with private money and coming in under budget is a tremendous
accomplishment, especially since this is a unique system that
is the most advanced of its kind in the world." For the
first 60 days, the Las Vegas Monorail will operate daily from
8 AM to midnight. The cost to ride the system one-way will be
$3, or less. Daily, multi-day and multi-ride passes will be available
for purchase. After the first 60 days, the monorail will operate
daily from 6 AM to 2 AM.
Las Vegas Monorail Website
Almaty: Big win for Severn-Lamb
Midland, England. Severn-Lamb will soon join the
"big kids" of monorail manufacturing with a deal to
build a $451 million monorail for Almaty, the capital city of
Kazakhstan. If the deal goes through, Severn-Lamb will spend
the next five years building 46 trains, each with six cars. The
Almaty Monorail will have 50 miles of track. Heinz Roosen,
managing director of Severn-Lamb, said "This is a massive
project and we will definitely be needing some help with it."
The system is being financed by a group of American financiers,
who will operate it for the first ten years. Severn-Lamb has
supplied peoplemover-scale monorails in Italy and Malaysia, but
the Almaty system will include new, larger trains that feature
walk-through capability. Roosen said "It's like having a
BMW Series 3 and now we've gone straight to the Series 7."
Almaty started building a subway system ten years ago but abandoned
the project because it became too expensive.
East for £247m monorail deal. icBirmingham, 6/24/04.
Severn-Lamb, United Kingdom
San Diego group formed. (6/24/04)
San Diego, California. TMS member Fred Willis
has joined the ranks of monorailists stepping up to the plate
to actively promote monorail. He has created a new website called
SDMonorail.com, the latest
effort to join our World Campaign
for monorail. Willis says "Monorails are the only means
of commuter transit likely to allow any further transit expansion
between central San Diego and north San Diego communities because
of the strength of environmental groups protecting intervening
wetlands." The area is already home to the now-famous San
Diego Trolley system, with its bright red trains, but SDMonorail.com
points out "as extensions are needed, freeways and hostile
terrain have made costs for light-rail of questionable recovery.
Furthermore, light rail construction heavily impacts areas through
which it is routed, and when completed, has a deleterious effect
on intersecting pedestrian walks, vehicle traffic and business
traffic on any crossed or shared surface street." Good luck
to you Fred, and all those who join you with your efforts for
monorail in San Diego.
San Diego Monorail website
||Jakarta breaks ground. (6/13/04)
Jakarta, Indonesia. A new system has been added
to our growing World List of Monorails.
Ground is being broken Monday for a major new Alweg-type
monorail system in Jakarta. Two lines are being built; the "Green
Line" with 14.8 kilometers and 17 stations, and the "Blue
Line" with 12.2 kilometers and 12 stations. PT Jakarta Monorail
is building the system, a consortium of Indonesian and foreign
investors, including the Hitachi Asia Company. If built to completion,
this will be Hitachi's largest straddle beam monorail system
outside of Japan. At one point it appeared that MTrans of Malaysia
would be supplying the system, but Hitachi successfully wrestled
the contract from their grasp. Indonesia's President Megawati
Soekarnoputri is scheduled to preside over the groundbreaking
ceremony for the US $630 million project.
Putrajaya system postponed.
Putrajaya, Malaysia. The 9 km-monorail system under
construction in Putrajaya, the new federal administrative capital
of Malaysia, has been postponed. The elaborate $105 million system
will connect the new city with a major rail line station. The
KLIA Express serves that station and connects to both Kuala Lumpur
and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. That monorail and
multi-modal station, with some of its approach and departure
monorail track, is complete. Subway tunnels for the downtown
portion of the system are also complete and a signature suspension
bridge, built for the exclusive use of the monorail, is nearing
completion. Many of the architecturally striking structures of
the new city are complete, but have not been occupied yet. The
monorail delay is planned to be in effect until about 30% of
the core area structures are occupied.
monorail project postponed. Utusan Express, 6/9/04.
photo courtesy of Seattle Times
Fire aftermath (6/1/04)
Seattle, Washington. A no-fatality fire on a bus
rarely catches worldwide attention. Put that bus up on a concrete
beam and call it a monorail, the world will hear about it! That's
what happened yesterday with a fire and evacuation of Monorail
Blue at Seattle Center. The story is certainly dramatic, with
frightened passengers having no place to go until firemen raised
ladders to open doors for rescue. The fire started in the rear
area of the train as it left Seattle Center. It stopped as it
emerged from the Experience Music Project tunnel at 5:20 PM.
At 5:30 firefighters arrived on the scene and evacuated passengers.
About 50 passengers had already transferred to Monorail Red,
which had pulled up next to the rear end of Blue. Smoke entering
Red prevented a complete evacuation to the other train, so ladders
were used for the rest of the passengers. First indications are
that a short in electrical wiring to the motor caused the fire.
Passengers heard loud pops and saw yellow sparks before the train
filled with smoke. Monorail operations have been suspended indefinitely.
Reaction has been quick and in some cases, very predictable.
Monorail opponents are using the incident to back their contention
that the 14-mile Green Line should not be built (ed: sure, freeways
are safer). Monorailists, however, are looking at the event as
an important lesson on safety. Dick Falkenbury, founder
of the monorail movement in Seattle and TMS Hall of Famer, stated
"I hope that the monorail industry takes advantage of this
situation and investigates this incident to discover what should
have been done, design changes that may be necessary and how
to prevent even this level of danger in the future. I am well
aware that there are far greater dangers on nearly any other
transit that you care to name, but we should seize this opportunity
to improve our record and system even more." Another TMS
member, Daniel Ahlstrom, posted on a monorail discussion
group "not that it wasn't going to be a requirement already,
but that about seals the deal for having an emergency walkway,
wouldn't you say?" Peter Sherwin, monorail champion
and spokesman for Monorail Now said "If they would've had
this incident on the new monorail, the doors would've opened,
the people would've stepped out onto the catwalk and they would've
walked away from the train."
rescued from monorail fire. Seattle P-I, 6/1/04
shuts down monorail; riders flee smoke-filled train. Seattle
of service indefinitely. KOMO TV, 6/1/04 (includes video).
photo courtesy of KOMO TV
Fire on Seattle Center Monorail.
Seattle, Washington. Developing...Monorail Blue
caught fire today on the south side of the Experience Music Project.
No reports of injuries as of this moment. Links below...
Seattle Center Monorail. KOMO TV, 5/31/04.
hits Seattle Center Monorail. Seattle Times, 5/31/04.
hits monorail at Seattle Center. Seattle P-I, 5/31/04.
Seattle monorailists fight
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Monorail Project
(SMP) and monorailists are fighting back against a recall effort
to kill the 14-mile Green Line. SMP, several businesses, organizations
and individuals are filing two actions in an effort to derail
a monorail recall. Former Governor Dan Evans and Earth
Day founder Dinis Hayes are part of the group fighting
the recall. They have filed a petition and complaint, which if
accepted by a judge, will stop the recall initiative. Ross
Macfarlane, SMP's legal and environmontal affairs director,
says the recall initiative "is not proper to go to a ballot,
even if (its backers) get enough signatures." Monorail opponents
have been circulating petitions for a measure that would derail
the proposed monorail project by banning construction of it on
city streets, if approved by City Council members or city voters.
An earlier recall petition failed because enough signatures couldn't
be gathered. Businesses joining the legal effort to fight the
recall include The Space Needle Corporation, the Seattle Mariners,
Seattle Glassblowing Studio and Gallery and Nitze-Stagen &
Co., owners of the Starbucks headquarters building. Obviously,
monorail support has come a long way in Seattle! Peter Hurley
of the Transportation Choices Coalition called the recall effort
"a waste of time and effort ... people have already voted
(on the monorail) three times, and there is a process laid out."
In other SMP news, the bid due date has been delayed two months
from June 15. This will give the City Council more time to deal
with alignment issues as well as give Cascadia Monorail and Team
Monorail more time to prepare their bids.
officials ask for recall initiative to be tossed. Seattle
backers fight recall effort. Seattle P-I, 5/29/04.
Computer bugs causing Las
Vegas delays. (5/25/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. A computer program is causing
the delays for the opening of the Las Vegas Monorail. Programmers
have been unable to solve a glitch that impacts arrival and departure
times of the trains. Most of the time the system works fine,
but 10 percent of the time trains have been either arriving too
early or too late. Responsibility for getting things right falls
on Bombardier Transportation's shoulders, supplier of the monorail
system. As negotiated in their contract, Bombardier is being
charged a hefty $85,000 for each day the system isn't open. Phase
One of the Las Vegas Monorail is made up of four miles of dual-guideway
with seven stations. The computer problems have led some to wonder
what kind of computer difficulties could occur with Seattle's
proposed 14-mile, 20-station system, with portions of the alignment
being shared for bi-directional use on a single beam. Still,
the bidders have yet to weigh in on this aspect.
Continue for the New Monorail System. KLAS TV, 5/24/04.
||Non-transit engineer attacks Seattle project. (5/21/04)
Seattle, Washington. Efforts to overturn three
votes for monorail in Seattle are kicking into high gear. The
latest attack comes in the form of complaints from an engineer
claiming that his firm has quit Team Monorail. One problem with
the assertion however, his firm was never part of Team Monorail.
Engineer Jon Magnusson of Magnusson Klemencic Associates
held a press conference yesterday to publicize his "concerns"
with the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP). SMP officials were banned
from the event and stated that Magnusson had never expressed
his concerns directly to project managers. On one online discussion
group, longtime monorail champion Peter Sherwin wrote
"word has it that he is the lead engineer for the new WAMU
building the president of which is a major [monorail] opponent
- he has made plenty of gold from Seattle public BUILDING projects
and perhaps is miffed that this wave of transit projects leaves
him without his "due" - he has no transit or bridge
experience - this would be a little like bring the best brain
surgeon in to comment on a skin condition - or a movie star to
comment on geopolitics - there is strong evidence that this was
done with the opponents help." Still, some of Magnusson's
statements do parallel concerns held by some monorail proponents.
In his press conference, Magnusson stated that the new monorail
might be impossible to expand and create choke points due to
the four miles of single-track sections dotted along the 14-mile
system. All this controversy takes place before Team Monorail
and Cascadia Monorail Company, the experienced monorail builders
and bidders on the project, have weighed in with their technical
expertise with bids for the system. Many are anxious to hear
what they have to say about single-tracking and other issues,
as they are certainly qualified to speak from experience on how
to build a monorail. Their bids are scheduled to be opened June
raises monorail concerns. Seattle P-I, 5/21/04
harshly criticizes monorail plan. Seattle Times, 5/21/04
monorail design flawed. Seattle Weekly, 5/20/04
California-maglev vs. steel
wheel debate (5/17/04)
State of California. In 2001 the California High-Speed
Rail Authority (CHSRA) selected traditional steel-wheel trains
for its proposed statewide high-speed rail (HSR) system. On the
other hand, the Southern California Association of Governments
(SCAG) has selected maglev monorails for its own HSR network,
proposed for Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino
counties. Yet another maglev is being proposed to run from Las
Vegas to Anaheim called the California-Nevada Super Speed Train.
Both maglev projects would use Germany's Transrapid technology,
which recently went into revenue service in Shanghai, China.
SCAG's maglev project manager, Zahi Faranesh, project
says "Steel on steel, by 2020 or 2030, will be passe technology."
SCAG rejected steel-wheel technology trains as too costly to
operate, too slow to compete with airlines and too old technology.
California's HSR would be built with public funds, but the Southern
California maglev proponents system maintain their project could
be built without a public subsidy. The planning agency is proposing
to form a joint powers agency and issue tax-exempt bonds to build
the system. Once operating, the maglev would pay off the bonds
with fares. Similar debates are occurring throughout the USA
regarding which technology to use for future HSR corridors.
rail debate rages. North County Times, 5/15/04.
California Maglev Project.
Super Speed Train (maglev)
Speed Rail Authority
HSR accidents (including grade crossing and derailment accidents).
Trainweb. (Consider California earthquakes and riding on steel
rails at 200-mph!)
|| / News