News Briefs Archive
October 25, 2003 - February 20, 2004.

Proposed downtown extension route

Las Vegas construction complete (2/20/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Shelley Berkley joined officials from the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) and the Las Vegas Monorail on Friday in announcing that construction is complete on the privately funded first phase of the Robert N. Broadbent Las Vegas Monorail, with federal funds on the way for its second phase. At a news conference held at the recently completed Las Vegas Hilton monorail station, local transportation officials said the Las Vegas Monorail has completed primary, or so-called civil, construction of its initial 4-mile route along the Las Vegas Strip from the MGM Grand to the Sahara hotel-casinos. With an appropriation of $20 million in Federal Transit Administration funds for its planned second phase, Reid said the monorail is well on its way to extending the world's most advanced public transportation system to downtown Las Vegas by 2008. "For months now, we've all been watching the construction of the monorail, and it has been a fascinating project," Reid said. "Now the first phase is done, and soon we'll all finally get a chance to ride on it. That's such exciting news. The monorail will help cut down on traffic congestion and air pollution around the Strip, and it will also be a lot of fun ­ for tourists and Nevadans alike. I'm very happy I was able to get matching federal funds to expand the monorail to downtown, and I'm looking forward to seeing that part of the project too." The monorail system is owned and operated by the Las Vegas Monorail Company, a non-profit corporation whose board is appointed by Nevada's governor. It is scheduled to open in March.

Las Vegas Monorail website


Group aims to kill Seattle Monorail Project. (2/10/04)
Seattle, Washington. Despite three votes by Seattle citizens for a monorail system, a group has been formed to kill the project. Monorailrecall.com is gathering what it calls "prepetition" e-mails in an effort to bring the monorail up for yet another vote. Members of the group are not listed on the site, yet Richard Borkowski, a well-known light rail supporter and critic of monorail, is acknowledging that he's part of the effort. Borkowski told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that others in the group are reluctant to come forth for fear of being publicly attacked by monorail supporters. On their website, the group criticizes the use of one-track sections, the future destruction of the 1962 Alweg monorail track, use of elevators at some stations instead of escalators and other Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) decisions that have been controversial. The website is asking for money to place newspaper ads. SMP spokesman Paul Bergman said, "The voters have voted three times to build the monorail. Everything we hear is that they want us to get it done."

Group trying to stop monorail turns to the Web. Seattle P-I, 2/10/04.
Seattle Monorail Project website

  Jakarta construction delayed (2/1/04)
Jakarta, Indonesia. Construction of a major new monorail system in Jakarta was scheduled to begin in February. However, planning for the system and ironing out agreements has taken longer than expected. "The administration and the Malaysian investor are jointly carrying out several studies on this project. When they are finished, hopefully by this year, we can launch," city secretary Ritola Tasmaya said this week. Malaysian firm MTrans Holding Sdn Bhd director David Chew agrees. "We are working out all details for the project along with the Jakarta Administration." Chew predicts that construction will begin by the end of this year, with a projected opening date of 2006. MTrans built the new Kuala Lumpur Monorail and has several prospective customers for other systems in Malaysia and elsewhere. Their monorail technology is based directly on the Alweg monorail of Seattle, Washington. Jakarta's system plan includes two lines totaling 27 kilometers of dual guideway.

Will drive shaft mishap delay Las Vegas? (2/1/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. All transit systems are thoroughly tested before opening to the public, monorails are no exception. The Las Vegas Monorail has been running day after day on a schedule that duplicates the one it will have when it opens. Tests have been under way for six months. On January 5th an 18-inch drive shaft disconnected at both ends and fell approximately fifteen feet to the ground. Fortunately, no one was injured. Since the incident, all M-VI drive shafts have been removed and tested by Bombardier Transit Corporation, which is building the trains and will operate the system. All drive shafts have now been tethered to the vehicles to prevent any similar incident from occuring. Will the incident delay the opening of the monorail? The Las Vegas Monorail Website has recently narrowed down the projected opening date to March, where before it said "opening 1st quarter of 2004." As we go to press, March is only a month away! E-mails to the Monorail Society asking about the opening date have increased considerably in the last month. Evidently there are many monorailists interested in attending the grand opening. This is understandable, as the much-anticipated event will mark the opening of the largest monorail system in the USA in recent years. Officials at Las Vegas Monorail and their PR firm have assured us they will let us know as soon as a decision has been made regarding the opening date. We'll let you know when we know!

Accident interrupts monorail testing. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/21/04.


Another Moscow monorail? (1/25/04)
Moscow, Russia. As testing continues on the Moscow Monorail, the prospect of another monorail for the city is being discussed. A 13-km line is under consideration for a line connecting the city with Vnukovo Airport. The line would connect with the southwest terminus of subway line #1. There would be one intermediate station. Two alternative plans for the airport line are for heavy rail or an elevated light rail line. Thanks to Anton A. Chigrai for the news and January 6th photo below of the Moscow Monorail on a test run.


Proposals and even more proposals (1/11/04)
Planet Earth. Since the the Monorail Society (TMS) was founded on January 1, 1989, TMS members have noticed a steady increase in the numbers of serious proposals for monorail. While the vast majority of them do not result in a system, it is significant to realize that monorails are being looked at more seriously for transit corridors in more places. Amusement-oriented monorail proposals continue to dominate, but the fact that many new urban monorails exist will lead to the development of new transit monorails. Congratulations monorailists, you are having an affect! Here are some stories of some of the most recent proposals:

Melbourne, AU: $50m monorail plan for Fountain Gate. Melbourne Herald Sun, 1/12/04.
Melbourne, AU: Council investigates Melbourne Monorail. the Age, 1/12/04.
London, UK: Monorail linking wharf to Liverpool St examined. The Wharf, 1/8/04.
Erie, PA: Monorail could connect site, bayfront. Erie Times-News, 1/6/04


Moscow tests in snow. (1/10/04)
Moscow, Russia. Can monorails operate in snow? That has been the burning question recently in Seattle, Washington. Winter weather has hit the Northwest USA with a vengeance this year, crippling transportation infrustructure including the Portland light rail system. Since Seattle is planning a monorail system, the question arises about monorails in snow. Thanks to TMS member Anton A. Chigrai, we have an answer in pictures. The Moscow Monorail has been undergoing testing and we have exclusive pictures of a train blowing snow off the track as it passes by. To see Anton's four large images of the train passing while the temperature is a bone-chilling -12 degrees Celcius, visit the Moscow construction photos in our Construction Gallery.

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Shanghai Maglev-1st in the world. (12/30/03)
Shanghai, China. And the winner is...Transrapid! The race to put the first magnetic levitation train into daily commercial service is over. The Shanghai Maglev began regular service this Monday. Decades of research and development now begins to pay off. Proof of capability during regular revenue operations is now under way. The eight-minute, 30-kilometer ride costs $9 (75 yuan). The maglev monorail runs at a peak speed of 430 kph (270 mph). Around the world there are many proposed maglev systems in which the German-developed Transrapid is the favored technology. Time will tell if more are built, but Shanghai may end up being the turning point of maglev history.

First commercial maglev train starts. International Herald Tribune, 12/29/03.
Transrapid International


Lartigue Monorailway website premiers. (12/25/03)
Listowel, Ireland. TMS member Frank McNerney has informed us that the Lartigue Monorailway restoration project now has a website. The original Listowel-Ballybunion Railway operated between 1888 and 1924. The website features historic photographs of the line as well as full coverage of the outstanding restoration project, which opened to the public this year.

Lartigue Monorailway Website


Boston highway monorail proposed. (12/25/03)
Boston, Massachusetts. Massachusetts State Representative David Flynn has proposed a monorail from Boston down the median of Interstate 93, Route 24, and Route 140. Flynn represents several suburban communities opposed to a conventional rail commuter train extension through their areas, including Easton and Raynham. Flynn stated that monorail would provide a "pioneering, leading-edge mass transportation carrier" that would be cheaper, equally as fast and efficient, and less environmentally destructive than the train. Massachusetts Turnpike Authority recently set aside funding to study the feasibility of monorail service from Boston to Springfield and should do the same for this region according to Flynn. "The Pike wants to build a monorail. Residents in Raynham and Easton have concerns about the commuter rail. But Fall River and New Bedford desperately need commuter help," he said. "Authorizing the building of a monorail would solve a number of problems at one time."

Highway monorail offered as Plan B to commuter train. Boston Globe, 12/21/03.


Tax forecasts improve for Seattle. (12/19/03)
Seattle, Washington. A new report from consulting firm ECONorthwest indicates that the Seattle Monorail Project tax collecting under way should grow enough to fund a $1.4 to $1.6 billion monorail. While this is a reduction from the original $1.75 billion projection to build the system, there is optimism amongst planners. The report said car tax income should grow an average 6.1 percent per year in Seattle. This is expected to fill in the gap of revenue shortages that appeared when car-tab tax collecting began. The true cost of the system won't be known until next year when the Hitachi and Bombardier monorail teams place their bids to build and operate the system. In other Seattle Monorail Project news, the latest proposal for a combination of double and single tracking has recently been posted on their website. Four miles of the 14-mile line would be single tracked according to the latest proposal, with bypasses at various stations on the north and south end on the line.

Monorail tax forecast is revised; car tabs expected to be enough. Seattle Times, 12/19/03
Seattle Monorail Project website


Las Vegas targets March 1, 2004. (12/12/03)
Las Vegas, Nevada. The Las Vegas Monorail has targeted March 1, 2004 for the beginning of revenue service! The system should also be completed $23 million under budget. Cam Walker, president, CEO and principal of Transit Systems Management, the management firm for the Las Vegas Monorail Company, relayed this good news during a meeting Thursday of the Las Vegas Monorail Company's five-member board of directors. "We're proud to near completion of a project of this magnitude on time and under budget, and are happy to report we have no claims outstanding," Walker said. "This success is the result of great teamwork and partnership, and we need to recognize the great work of our contractors, Bombardier Transportation and Granite Construction, and also the hard work of our oversight consultants, GC Wallace and Booz Allen Hamilton." The system will link eight major Las Vegas resorts with more than 24,000 hotel rooms and nine convention facilities, including the Las Vegas Convention Center, the largest single-level facility of its kind in the world. The 4-mile system will connect the MGM Grand and Sahara hotel-casinos on a route running east of and parallel to the Las Vegas Strip. Plans call for the monorail to eventually connect downtown Las Vegas and McCarran International Airport. A one-way trip on the Las Vegas Monorail will be $3, with a round-trip fare costing $5.50. The monorail will run 20 hours per day, from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., 365 days a year.

Las Vegas Monorail website


Shanghai Maglev nears regular service. (12/07/03)
Shanghai, China. In January, the world's first commercially operated maglev will begin regular daily service. Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Company Chen Yifan official said "We are planning to start the line's daily traffic operation prior to the Spring Festival, which falls on January 22 next year." Currently the train runs 23 round trips from Longyang Road Station in Shanghai to Pudong International Airport during weekends. When regular operations begin, the interval between trains will be about 20 minutes. The 30-km ride takes only eight minutes and has a peak speed of 430 kph. Tickets are 75 yuan (US $9) for a one-way trip. Transrapid International developed the system and has been actively marketing it throughout the world.

Maglev announces service expansion. Shanghai Daily, 12/4/03.


Bucks for urban maglev. (12/03/03)
California, Pennsylvania. The California University of Pennsylvania urban maglev prototype program has received an unexpected $1 million from federal lawmakers. The project will receive $2 million from the Omnibus Appropriations Report now in Congress, which is double what the university anticipated. The university hopes to eventually obtain $155 million in federal money for the entire "Sky Shuttle" demonstration project. If completed, the demonstrator maglev will loop around the campus and connect it with a football stadium and student housing. The $2 million will finance the maglev through environmental studies. A lightweight chassis is under development at General Atomics in San Diego, California. A test track is also under development at the San Diego facility.

Maglev project gets $2 million. Washington Observer-Reporter, 12/2/03.


Route recommended for Seattle. (11/22/03)
Seattle, Washington. This week the staff of the Seattle Monorail Project went public with their preliminary recommendations for the route of the 14-mile Green Line. Several firsts for straddle monorails will be part of the route, including multi-level stations, "iris" supports and sections of single-lane guideway which will be shared by trains going both directions. Several elements of the proposal are sure to result in debate. A path through the Seattle Center is favored by monorail staff, but is opposed loudly by some. Single track and iris structures cause concern to some as well, both because of performance of the system and resulting aesthetics. The recommendations aren't in stone however, final recommendations are to be made in January after intense lobbying for changes in the coming months. The monorail board is expected to decide the route in March. "I think this is the most important day since the election (when voters approved the plan in 2002)," said Seattle Monorail Project Executive Director Joel Horn. "This begins what we like to refer to as decision time." The complete 96-page recommendation report is available on the Seattle Monorail Project website (see link below).

Monorail project rolls out its route; Seattle Center plan controversial. Seattle Times, 11/19/03.
Proposal sends monorail through Seattle Center. Seattle P-I, 11/19/03.
Seattle Monorail Project website


Shanghai Transrapid speed record (11/16/03)
Shanghai, China. On November12th, a Shanghai Transrapid train set a new speed record of 501 kilometers/hour (311 mph). The five-section train travelled the 30-km/19-mile route on the eastbound Track A heading from Shanghai to the Pudong International Airport. This breaks previous speed records for Transrapid, surpassing the record of 450 kph/280 mph set in 1993 by the two-section TR07 vehicle at the test facility in Emsland, Germany. Larry Blow, U.S Projects Manager for Transrapid International-USA, Inc., stated on the Urban Maglev discussion group that "it was a special test performed under strict controls by the Shanghai Maglev Technology Development Company, the group leading the project on the Chinese side. Only SMTDC personnel were allowed aboard the vehicle and normal operation parameters (acceleration/braking, ride comfort, propulsion control, etc.) were modified to allow the Transrapid to attain this speed within the 30-km/19-mile route." When the Shanghai line opens next year, speeds will not exceed 430 kph/267 mph in daily operations.

Transrapid website
Transrapid USA website
TMS Maglev Monorail page


Kuala Lumpur Monorail Livecams (10/29/03)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Kuala Lumpur Monorail has already had over one million passengers and is proving to be very popular. Trains are being added so that hours of operation can be expanded. If you can't make it to Kuala Lumpur soon, we've found a place where you can watch the monorail...live! The Kuala Lumpur City Hall website has cameras pointed at traffic all over the city, and six of them have the monorail in view. On the website it is possible to pick a still image or streaming video for each camera. The first link below is to the website, but we suggest you print out the guide from the Monorail Society Guide to KL Monorail Webcams first (second link below). Enjoy!

Kuala Lumpur Livecams-City Hall Website. Click on Real Time Traffic Information.
Monorail Society Guide to KL Monorail Webcams.
Kuala Lumpur-current time. Make sure to watch when the monorail is open!

  Bombardier/Granite team win Las Vegas extension contract. (10/29/03)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Bombardier Transportation and Granite Construction Company have been awarded $440 million worth of contracts for the downtown extension of the Las Vegas Monorail. Bombardier's share of the initial contract is $178 million and it will net $114 million more for five years of operations. The contract is being awarded by Transit Systems Development LLC and is for a 3.6 km extension from the Sahara Station to a station near the Fremont Street Experience in downtown. It's expected that the monorail will play a vital role in the revitalization of the downtown area, which has not done as well financially as the famous Strip section south of the city's border. The extension will include four stations and 20 additional monorail cars will be built. A notice to proceed is expected in the summer of 2004 and completion of the extension is expected by the summer of 2007. The 6.4 km first phase of the 6.4-kilometer (4-mile) monorail is scheduled to enter service in January of 2004.

Bombardier wins $292M in contracts to extend Las Vegas monorail system. CJAD, 10/28/03.
Bombardier wins C$292 mln Las Vegas rail contract. Forbes, 10/28/03.
Public-private transportation endorsed at Vegas convention. Las Vegas Sun, 10/29/03.
Map of Las Vegas Monorail with extension.

American Maglev in deep doo-doo. (10/29/03)
Norfolk, Virginia. Three companies have sued Old Dominion University and American Maglev Technology Inc. for failing to pay for work on the University's dead-before-arrival maglev line. American Steel, S.B. Ballard Construction and Marine Construction are all seeking payments for various aspects of the construction of the incomplete system. ODU had fully expected that the maglev would be moving students across the campus a year ago. Technical glitches popped up during testing and the project came to a halt. $14 million in public and private funds ran out before the problem could be fixed. If there is a lesson from this story for future rail technology pioneers, it's that you shouldn't buy or sell a system that hasn't had everything tested at a full-scale test track first. Bugs will pop up and sometimes their bite is painful!

Third company sues ODU, American Maglev. The Virginia-Pilot, 10/28/03


Seattle Monorail controversies abound. (10/25/03)
Seattle, Washington. Any major construction project is bound to go through good days and bad days during the planning process. Right now it's the Seattle Monorail Project's turn to be under fire for a number of issues. Seattleites are passionate about the way their city will be in the future and many are voicing their concerns about the planned monorail. A lot of press is being given to the process. Issues include the car tax shortfall, routing through or around Seattle Center, and concerns over aesthetics. The Seattle Popular Monorail Authority has shown itself to be open to innovative ideas to deal with the many issues. One of those ideas recently resulted in a healthy debate over whether portions of the guideway should be single or dual guideway. Single rail sections would reportedly require smaller foundations, allow easier attachment to bridges and perhaps have less impact visually on the environment. However, those against single-railing say that it would seriously limit bi-directional travel and increase the number of switches along the route. Train breakdowns on single rail sections could result in the entire system coming to a halt. Meanwhile, the federal government has approved $500 million grant for the Sound Transit light rail project, clearing the way for construction to begin on the agency's 14-mile line from downtown Seattle to Tukwila. Sound Transit has to this point been the area's champion of an under-fire project. The story continues.

Monorail tax evasion estimated at 7.5 percent. Seattle Times, 10/24/03.
Conlin: send monorail around Seattle Center. Seattle P-I, 10/23/03.
Monorail errors led to shortfall. Seattle Times, 10/23/03.
Monorail panel weighs single track for two-way traffic. Seattle Times, 10/23/03.
Monorail board considering single track between stations. Seattle Times, 10/22/03.
Monorail planners may have 1-track mind. Seattle P-I, 10/22/03.
Seattle Monorail Project website.

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