News Brief Archives

News Briefs Archives
November 11, 2011 - February 16, 2012.

Another TMS Exclusive...
Xi'an Monorail receiving 1st Intamin P8/48 (02/16/12)
Xi'an, China. Intamin Transportation has finished producing the first monorail train for Xi'an Monorail, an entirely new monorail system under construction in China. The Intamin P8/48 is an updated state of the art version of the original P8, introduced in 1998 on a loop system in Shenzhen, China. The Xi'an Monorail will initially feature three P8/48 trains on a 9.6-kilometer system. Each train can carry 48 passengers, hence the designation P8/48. The eleven-station monorail is scheduled to open in October later this year. Xi'an, with a population of over 8 million, is one of the oldest cities in China. Since the 1990s, Xi'an has been a part of the economic revival of the region.

New Intamin P8/48 train before shipment to Xi'an (photos courtesy of Intamin)


Okinawa Monorail extension approved (02/02/12)
Naha, Okinawa. Okinawa Urban Monorail has received approval from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) to extend their system. A 4.1 kilometer extension will be added from the current northeastern terminal station at Shuri in Naha City. Four new stations will be added to the system including Uranashi, where a large parking facility and highway bus terminal will also be located. The ¥35 billion extension work will begin in May of 2013, with a completion date forecast in 2019.

TMS Special Feature: Okinawa Monorail Photo Essay



Iraq's growing monorail wish list (01/22/12)
Karbala, Iraq. The government of Iraq has invited international companies to compete for a $450-million monorail system in the city of Kerbala. Kerbala is 80 kilometers southwest of Baghdad and has shrines of two Shi'ite imams, as well as several other major religious sites. The city suffers logistcal transport nightmares when throngs of people visit during religious events. The proposed 18-kilometer monorail would run from a northern entrance to the city to the main shrines in central Kerbala. In March of 2010 TMS reported on the Baghdad's mayor wishing for and planning a 36-kilometer monorail system. To date no monorail project has moved forward, yet it is reported that France's Alstom signed a memorandum of understanding for a non-monorail, metro line in Baghdad. In June of 2011 TMS reported on a contract award to TransGlobim for a monorail in Iraq's City of Najaf. To date we are not aware of any progress on that system either. While Iraq dreams of monorails running in its major cities, no rail systems are being built while the government deals with challenges of providing basic services like water and electricity.

Iraq Seeks Bids for $450 Million Monorail Project in Karbala. Bloomberg, 01/22/12.
Iraq seeks bidders on $45o mln Kerbala rail project. Reuters, 01/22/12.
Transglobim International website


Manaus contract signed (01/21/12)
Manaus, Brazil. Malaysia's Scomi Engineering Bhd and three consortium partners have signed a contract to build a monorail system in Manaus, Brazil. The initial line will 20 kilometers long and have nine stations. Scomi was awarded the project last August, but now that the details have been worked out and the contract is signed, Scomi can proceed. Scomi says the monorail will have a capacity to transport up to 35,000 passengers per hour per direction. The line will operate between Largo da Matriz and Jorge Teixeira urban areas. As many as 300,000 commuters will use the monorail each day. Construction and testing will take around 40 months. Scomi's consortium partners in Brazil include CR Almeida S/A Engenharia De Obras, Mendes Junior Trading E Engenharia S/A, and Serveng-Civilsan S/A Empresas Associadas De Engenharia. Scomi and its partners are also working on Line 17, a monorail system for São Paulo, Brazil.

Scomi, Partners Sign Monorail Deal In Brazil. Bernama, 01/20/12.
Scomi Engineering JV signs Brazilian monorail contract. The Star, 01/21/12.


China's urban maglev train revealed (01/21/12)
Zhuzhou, China. China's first urban maglev train was rolled out from its production line this week. It was manufactured at Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co Ltd, a division of China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corp. The three-car train is capable of speeds up to 100 kilometers per hour and costs 1/4 less to manufacture than a conventional light rail train. Xu Zongxiang, general manager of the manufacturer, said, "It's ideal for mass transportation, as it is quiet and environmentally friendly." Beijing is currently building the country's first urban maglev system, which is due to open in 2013.

photo courtesy of Xinhua


New Delhi tries again (01/17/12)
New Delhi, India. Over the past two decades TMS has reported on several New Delhi attempts to develop monorail in the north-central Indian city. According to the Times of India, the Delhi government has now given tentative approval for a 10.8-kilometer monorail system between Shastri Park Metro Station and Trilokpuri via Laxmi Nagar in east Delhi. If development funds are approved, it is hoped to have the monorail operating by 2017. The line has been selected for monorail because such congested areas are not easy for development of conventional rail metros. Monorail can be built much quicker and at far lest cost than metro. The Delhi State Infrastructure and Industrial Development Corporation have been asked to prepare a proposal for formal approval by the cabinet.

Monorail comes calling at east Delhi. The Times of India, 01/18/12.
Changing the way Delhi travels. Hindustan Times, 01/18/12.
India's 1st monorail at trans-Yamuna. The Pioneer, 01/18/12.


Sri Lanka proposal (01/17/12)
Hambantota, Sri Lanka. South Asia may get its first monorail if proponents in Hambantota get their way. The south coast city was hit hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and has since been undergoing a number of major development projects since the disaster. A seaport, international airport and international cricket stadium are part of the new additions to the area. Hambanbota Parlimentarian Namal Rajapaksa says the first line would be between the new Hambantota International Airport and the Suriyawewa cricket stadium three kilometers away. It would also link a proposed IT park and a proposed convention center, a 300-unit apartment complex and other investment projects. Officials are in discussions with potential investors for the monorail.

Lanka's first monorail in H'tota. Daily News, 01/18/12.


photo courtesy of news.cn

Chongqing breaks another record (01/08/12)
Chongqing, China. One of our readers points out we missed a major news item in December. He's right! One half year after first opening Line 3, which broke several world records, an extension of that line opened on December 29th on the north end. Line 3 now runs all the way from Erlang in the south to Jiangbei Airport in the north. That makes Line 3 the longest monorail line in the world at 39.1 kilometers with 29 stations. The Chongqing Monorail also is the only monorail system in the world with an X-shaped crossover point. Line 3 features the highest river crossing of any monorail system in the world, with the Jialing River crossing on the Chongqing Yu'ao Jialingjiang Bridge. The entire system is by far the largest in the world, and further additions are planned.

Chongqing Rail Transit Line 3 opens to traffic. People's Daily Online, 12/30/11.


Sydney Monorail on endangered list (01/08/12)
Sydney, Australia. Since taking office, Sydney's lord mayor Clover Mayor has been determined to demolish Sydney's iconic monorail. He and other critics may have found a way to do it. Under the auspices of making room for redevelopment of the convention center district, word is coming out that the monorail will be taken down. Demolition would require the purchase of the system back, as well as coming up with an estimated $20-30 million for taking it down. Built in 1988, the Von Roll monorail has had its share of critics since day one. The monorail turns a profit, which as transit followers know is unusual in the rail transport business. It serves several important areas for tourists visiting the city, but is hampered in that it is a one-track, one-way loop. Metro Transport, which operates the monorail and light rail, is declining to comment at this point.

Monorail likely to go in tourism revamp. Sydney Morning Herald, 01/09/12.
Tourists want monorail to stay on track, locals not so sure. ABC.net.au, 01/09/12.
Monorail Society Sydney Monorail Photo Essay


2011: Year in Review (12/27/11)
Fremont, California. When comparing monorail activity around the world today, to that of 1989 when The Monorail Society was founded, we can certainly enjoy the great progress that has been made in the acceptance of this still much-maligned technology. Despite the rabid anti-monorail forces, monorail continues to be proposed, planned and built. There have been some gains and losses, and what follows is a brief summary of 2011:

  • In 2010, Bombardier made stunning news with the announcement of their new Innovia Monorail 300 train. The 300 features walk-through trains and independent bogies, which puts Bombardier on par with the two other major monorail suppliers of the world, Hitachi and Scomi. During 2011 the 300 has been designed in detail and is ready for fabrication. In June the company announced that an entirely new 1.7-kilometer test track will be built in Kingston, Canada. Trains for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and São Paulo, Brazil will be tested there.
  • Beautiful pylons and beams are being constructed on site in São Paulo for Bombardier's Line 2 project. In June Scomi won the bid for the city's second monorail, Line 17. Other lines are in planning stages.
  • Construction continued in Mumbai, India on Scomi's first project outside Malaysia. In July an accident on the construction site tragically killed two workers when a beam fell when being hoisted into place. Delays in the Mumbai project have occurred due to alignment acquisition issues. However, new pylons, stations and beams continue to appear on scene.
  • According to a Vietnamese publication, Hanoi reportedly signed a contract for two monorail lines.
  • Las Vegas Monorail continued to struggle its way through the bankruptcy process. Currently lawyers are trying to hammer out an agreement that the bankruptcy court judge will approve of. Discussion of an approved airport extension is on hold until the bankruptcy is settled. The privately-owned monorail revenues continue to pay for daily operating expenses, the financial problem lies with the debt over construction costs.
  • Chennai's Monorail project has moved forward slowly, albeit with difficulties in the bid process.
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is working on improving transit connections along its ground-breaking monorail line. A major improvement was announced in November for plans to replace all the two-car trains with four-car 'Sutra' monorails. A better pedestrian connection to Sentral Station is under construction at the southern terminal station.
  • All monorails in the Tokyo area resumed operations shortly after the destructive 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11th.
  • Siemens H-Bahn technology may start popping up in China, according to a March article in the Global Times.
  • Monorail pylons continue to go up in Port Harcourt, Nigeria on a single-line Intamin monorail. The first train was delivered and TMS was first to publish pictures of it.
  • Roller blade inventor Scott Olson revealed his Minnesota test track for pedal-powered monorail called SkyRide.
  • Makassar, Indonesia added itself to the growing number of cities proposing monorail.
  • Thiruvananthapuram, India is considering monorail for a 28-kilometer line.
  • Trivandrum, India is considering monorail.
  • Jodhpur, India is considering monorail.
  • Indore, India is considering monorail.
  • Patna, India is considering monorail.
  • Scomi won another contract in Brazil in August, this one for a 28-km system in Manaus.
  • The Wolmido Island Urbanaut Monorail is still working towards opening. Some problems popped up as a result of local contractor flaws in construction. Urbanaut officials are saying 2012 will be the year.
  • Chongqing Monorail in China opened its second line and as a result became the world record holder for the longest monorail.
  • Malacca, Malaysia opened a 1.6 single-track tourist line monorail, yet suffered technical problems consistently from that point forward.
  • Wuppertal Stadtwerke awarded a contract to Vossloh Kiepe to replace the current 1970-era trains.
  • The never ending approval process for the Fiordland Link proposal in New Zealand continued with more steps toward implementation.
  • MetroRAIL received approval for its initial line alignment based on Urbanaut technology in Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Qom, Iran continues its construction of Iran's first monorail system along a central corridor of the city.
  • Kermanshah, Iran awarded the country's second monorail system contract.
  • The International Monorail Association held its first USA conference in Las Vegas this month.
  • American Monorail Project premiered its website and announced its intentions to advance monorail development in the USA.

All in all, it's been a spectacular year for monorail advancement! Anyone that continues to say transit monorails "don't exist and that no one seriously considers them for transit" will have to alter their argument to remain truthful.


Is Chennai project endangered? (12/27/11)
Chennai, India. With a four-line, record-breaking 111-kilometer monorail system as the plan, has the City of Chennai has taken on too much, too quickly? A global tender was initiated on August 15 for prequalification for the first line. Initially, bidders were required to have been awarded a prior rail project of over 37 kilometers to qualify. In September that was changed to 25 kilometers, and/or bidders that have built a 12-kilometer system currently in operation. In addition to difficult-to-meet build history qualifications, another condition was that the system was to be built on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis. Sao Paulo is being built that way, but Mumbai's Monorail is being built under the Engineering, Procurement and Construction contract (EPC). PPP would be a first for monorail in India. On December 1st, the government decided to start the process over again, and on December 9th there was a shake up in management for the project. The eligibility criteria are currently being evaluated for improvements and the financial aspect is also under review. 2014 was originally the year the first line would open, but now that date is in doubt. Those who oppose the technology usually take advantage of such process problems, so it remains to be seen if the project will continue to move forward as monorail.

Roadblocks to Monorail project. The Hindu, 12/27/11.


Eric & Chanel Wickland
President/CEO and Administrative Coordinator for American Monorail Project

American Monorail Project debut (12/19/11)
Los Angeles, California. The American Monorail Project (AMP) made its debut this week with its participation at Monorailex 2011 in Las Vegas, and with the premier of their website. AMP not only would like to see the advancement of transit monorail development in the United States, but it hopes to create an entirely new industry as a result. The AMP Mission Statement cites a new transportation paradigm, stating "The American Monorail Project proposes a strategic reorganization of the roles of government and transportation authorities in the planning, financing and implementation of transportation systems and services." The American Monorail Project is the brainchild of Eric Wickland, AMP's CEO and President. Wickland states, "We contend that we can build state of the art monorail systems that will support themselves financially." To develop the monorail systems AMP proposes to partner with governmental agencies to obtain publicly owned rights of way, such as streets, highways, flood control and river channels. The water channel idea comes from Brian C. Brooks, AMP's Applied Technology Consultant, who in 2006 succeeded in getting a feasibility study done which concluded water channel monorail alignments are possible (News Briefs Archives...Follow the water: major L.A. County proposal). Of recent Brooks has been busy crafting suggested alignments for various cities on behalf of AMP. Will AMP succeed? If they do, it could be nothing short of revolutionary. Summed up on AMP's Mission Implementation page, "The goal of the American Monorail Project is nothing short of a recasting of mass transportation planning and industry, and the transformation of the American transportation paradigm into the 21st century state of the art that the nation deserves."


Jaap Ketel
International Monorail Association

IMA holds 1st USA conference (12/18/11)
Las Vegas, Nevada. The International Monorail Association (IMA), founded in 2009, held its first USA conference this week in Las Vegas. Monorail professionals gathered at the Las Vegas Hilton for many informative presentations. The keynote speaker was Laurence E. Blow, President of MaglevTransport, Inc. Presentations were also made on behalf of Bombardier, Seattle Monorail, MetroRail-Nigeria, São Paulo Transporte, OTN Systems, BergerABAM and others. American Monorail Project made its public debut and hosted a special dinner for delegates at the Venetian Resort. The conference concluded with a tour of the Las Vegas Monorail. IMA, like The Monorail Society (TMS), was founded to promote the advancement of monorail transit. IMA is geared more towards the monorail professionals that can make that reality happen, while TMS educates the public through its website and DVDs. TMS President Kim Pedersen said of the conference, "It's fantastic to have IMA doing what we've dreamed of doing for years, organizing conferences on a regular basis to share knowlege and discuss ways to improve monorail promotion. I was very impressed with the event and I hope to attend more in the future." Further information on the International Monorail Association and its Monorailex conferences can be found on their website (link below).

Jaap Ketel, IMA's Association Secretary gives closing remarks after a full day of presentations

Carlos Banchik PE, Innova Technologies (center), shares his expertise with some of Monorailex 2011s delegates during a tour of the Las Vegas Monorail OMSF (Operations Maintenance Storage Facility)


Fiordland Link proposal advances (12/09/11)
Queenstown, New Zealand. The proposal has been around for a long time, but one more hurdle in the process to get it built has recently been achieved by backers. The New Zealand Department of Conservations (DOC) has granted the proposal approval in principal. The $175 million proposal would speed up transportation for tourists from Queenstown to Milford Sound, New Zealand's spectacular fjord. If built, tourists would be able to take a catamaran from Queenstown to Mt. Nicholas Station. From there they would be shuttled to a monorail station. At that point they would board a 41-km monorail line. The monorail would travel through the scenery of the Snowden forest. The final leg of their journey to Milford Sound would be by coach from Te Anau Downs. The Department of Conservation has invited the public to comment on the proposal and whether it should be granted a concession. After February 27, 2012, the DOC will hold public hearings before making a final decision.

Big tick for Queenstown-Milford monorail. Mountain Scene, 12/08/11.
Monorail bid put in public arena. Southland Times, 12/09/11.
Fiordland Link website


New trains for Kuala Lumpur (11/30/11)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Scomi Rail Bhd will replace Kuala Lumpur Monorail's two-car trains with twelve four-car trainsets starting late next year. Not only will the trains double in length, but each car will increase passenger carrying capability from 98 to 128. The RM494 million contract will also include upgrading monorail stations and the electrical and mechanical system. An entirely new OSMF (Operations Storage Maintenance Facility) will be built for the trains as well. Two-car trains, which have been operating since the system opened in 2003, will be used as spares once all the trains have been replaced by July of 2013. The original stations are long enough for the new trains. Scomi Group Chief Executive Officer Shah Hakim Zain said, "We're also looking forward if there's a possibility for the current line to be extended in the future." The expansion would affect two temples in the Brickfields area, but all issues have been resolved through negotiation.

Scomi To Provide 12 Sets of Four-car Trains For KL Monorail. Bernama.com, 11/30/11.

Another TMS Exclusive...
New Bombardier bogie detailed in patent (11/22/11)
Kingston, Canada. To date, details of the suspension of the new Bombardier Innovia 300 monorail have been unknown, but a recently-found patent may be quite revealing. What has been known is that the new train design will feature wider track and a new bogie. Bombardier M-VI trains featured wheels attached directly to the framework of the car body, which was a direct descendent of Disney's monorail designs. Disney had removed independent bogies from the original Alweg design due to space constraints for scaled-down monorail trains in theme park use. When Bombardier acquired rights to market the Disney technology, the scaled-down wheel/frame attachment remained part of the equation. This design includes the width of only one load-bearing tire on top of the beam. Bombardier sold new trains with that same design to Walt Disney World and Las Vegas. When walk-through trains and better ride quality were demanded for the Seattle Monorail Project (now-defunct), Bombardier started to promote a train with walk-through capability and independent bogies. With the successful Bombardier contract wins for São Paulo, Brazil and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the company is making good on its efforts to scale up trains and improve ride quality. The new bogie design is eerily similar to the original Alweg bogie design of 1962, which has proven itself in over 49 years of operation in Seattle. Bombardier's patent shows two-tire wide load bearing wheels. The new bogie has also been designed to prevent side-to-side 'bogie roll,' which rocks the cars while negotiating turns. Many tech-saavy monorailists look forward to the new trains and believe they put Bombardier on an equal footing with the other major monorail suppliers of the world.

US Patent Number 7,823,512 B2. Google Patents page, November 2, 2010

Bombardier's new bogie, as seen in 2010 patent

Bogie illustration from 1962 Seattle Alweg monorail


IMA to meet in Las Vegas (11/21/11)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Next month will mark the first USA conference of the International Monorail Association (IMA). 'Monorailex 2011' will take place on December14-16 at the Las Vegas Hilton, which has its own station on the Las Vegas Monorail. Monorailex will feature a trade show on the 15th, as well as numerous informative seminars. On Friday the 16th, conference participants will enjoy a collective ride on the Las Vegas Monorail, followed by a very rare tour of the OMSF (Operations Maintenance Storage Facility). The IMA was founded in 2009 to organize the global monorail sector, publish information, promote monorail and establish performance standards. Conference registration information can be found on the IMA website.


Judge rejects Las Vegas bankruptcy plan (11/18/11)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Bankruptcy Judge Bruce Markell today rejected Las Vegas Monorail's latest plan to emerge from bankruptcy, despite it having been agreed to by creditors. Markell wrote in his order that "Its current plan dooms it to failure, if not in the next few years, certainly by 2019." Attorneys, creditors and the monorail company will need to work on amendments or a new plan to submit to Markell. The judge wasn't convinced that the monorail wouldn't end up needing another restructuring within the decade.

Judge rejects Las Vegas Monorail bankruptcy plan. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 11/18/11.
Judge rejects Monorail plan to emerge from bankruptcy. Las Vegas Sun, 11/18/11.


Kochi considers maglev (11/18/11)
Kochi, India. Metro officials of the Indian coastal city Kochi have held preliminary discussions with South Korean Incheon Metro regarding the potential use of their maglev technology. Incheon is currently building a maglev system to connect with their airport using Rotem-developed technology (see illustration). The Incheon Maglev is due to open in 2012. Maglev has a powerful ally in India with Delhi Metro Rail Corporations managing director, E. Sreedharan. Sreeharan sees the possibility of not only building maglev in Kochi, but throughout India in other urban settings as well. The Kochi Metro project is reportedly going through its final clearance process.

Kochi Metro: Sreedharan for Korean maglev technology. Times of India, 11/17/11.


Wuppertal fleet replacement (11/11/11)
Wuppertal, Germany. Wuppertaler Stadtwerke has awarded a €122-million contract to Vossloh Kiepe to supply 31 suspension rail cars for the famous Wuppertal Schwebebahn. Wuppertal Schwebebahn has operated longer than any other monorail in the world. Periodically over 100 years, new trains have been introduced to run along the Wupper River, with the most recent trains having been supplied in the 1970s. The latest design is very similar to the current design, but will incorporate several improvements. Shells will cover the wheels and wheel arms. The driver's window would be slightly angled to improve forward visibility. Seats will feature padding. More space for wheelchairs will be included, and there will be more folding seats, bringing the total per train to 46. Three-phase alternator motors will be installed. The new vehicles will be built in Valencia, Spain. Deliveries will begin in 2014, with tests beginning shortly thereafter.

Vossloh Kiepe press release
Wuppertal monorail fleet replacement contract signed. Railway Gazette, 11/11/11.


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