News Brief Archives

News Brief Archives
November 26, 2005 - March 13, 2006.

Pinellas County setback (03/13/06)
Pinellas County, Florida. For the fourth time in 30 years, politicians have killed efforts for a rail system in Pinellas County, Florida. Last week, county planning officials decided against spending $900,000 in federal transportation dollars for a detailed engineering study for a county-wide rail system. Clearwater was willing to add $500,000 towards the study. The city would like a 2-mile starter line to bring beach visitors to the coast. The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) decision last week reverses the recommendation of the Pinellas Mobility Initiative committee, which has worked on the development of a countywide monorail system for several years. The MPO decided to spend $2.3-million in federal dollars to study Bus Rapid Transit instead of monorail. Monorail has been proposed and studied in the automobile-congested county since the 1980s. Surprisingly, money is not the problem for the proposed system, but lack of will of elected officials. A county sales tax increase has generated more that $1.5 billion since it was implemented in 1990.

Is rail rescue off the track? St. Petersburg Times, 3/12/06.

Ground-breaking for The Palm Monorail (03/05/06)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. A ceremony has been held for the ground-breaking of what will be the United Arab Emirates first monorail system. On hand to turn shovels were His Highness Sheikh Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum; Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman, Nakheel; His Excellency Hajime Tsujimoto, Ambassador of Japan; and Shigeki Kuwahara, Executive Deputy President, Marubeni Corporation. The 5.4 km system will take three years to complete. Several challenges lie ahead for builders, including water crossings and building on a man-made island. The Palm Monorail trains will be driverless, but will have an attendant in the same way the Hitachi-built Tokyo Disney Resort monorail trains have.

Monorail work begins at The Palm Jumeirah. AME Info, 3/5/06.
The Palm website
Hitachi Monorail

art rendering courtesy of Seould Metropolitan Govt.

Seoul Monorail by 2008 (2/14/06)
Seoul, South Korea. The district office of Kangnam-gu in Southern Seoul has announced plans for a $205 million monorail through Taehchin-dong, Chongdam-dong, Samsong-dong and Sinsa-dong. The 6.7 kilometer system still must be approved by the Ministry of Planning and Budget and the Ministry of Construction and Transportation. The system will be built by Kangnam Monorail, a joint venture between Korean builder Keangnam Enterprises and Malaysia's MTrans Group. 67,000 commuters are expected the use the monorail each day, which is estimated to remove 27,000 automobiles from Seoul's roads each day. Seoul Monorail will have ten stations. If built, the system will be the first to use MTrans technology outside of Malaysia.

Seoul City to Introduce Monorail in 2008. Korea Times, 2/14/06.

Seattle Center Monorail to be repaired (2/9/06)
Seattle, Washington. November 2005 will go down in history as one of the worst months for monorail in Seattle. Seattle voters halted a 14-mile monorail project, only months away from groundbreaking. On November 26th the historic Seattle Center Monorail suffered a service-ending side scrape accident between its two Alweg-built trains. Monorailists and Seattleites alike wondered if this was to the death knell of monorails in the city for good. But today, Seattle Monorail Services announced a plan to repair and refurbish the monorail and have it operating again by summer. They’re estimating costs to be somewhere between $3 and $4 million, the majority of which will be paid by insurance. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, one of the key players in the demise of the cross-city Seattle Monorail Project last year, said today “The Monorail is not only an important transportation link that carries more than 2 million people a year, it is an irreplaceable part of Seattle’s character.” In addition to repairing the last surviving Alweg-built trains, an automated stopping system will prevent a repeat of the two-train scrunch at the pinch point by Westlake Station. “After these refurbishments, the Monorail will be in the best shape it’s been in for 25 years,” said Tom Albro, General Manager of Seattle Monorail Services. “We’re excited to bring it back to the citizens and visitors of Seattle.”

Ray Bradbury challenges Los Angeles (2/5/06)
Los Angeles, California. Legendary science fiction writer Ray Bradbury (“The Martian Chronicles” and “Fahrenheit 451”) today challenged Los Angeles to build monorails. His editorial entitled “L.A.’s future is up in the air” was published today in the Los Angeles Times. Bradbury is no stranger to the monorail cause. Through his friendship with Walt Disney, Bradbury embraced the concept of monorail from the earliest operating days of his friend’s Disneyland-Alweg Monorail System. When the Alweg Company offered a monorail system to Los Angeles for free (see L.A.’s Worst Transit Decision), Bradbury was incensed when supervisors turned down the offer. After being physically removed from the meeting for protesting, he spent a year speaking on behalf of Alweg to try to reverse that decision. That effort was unsuccessful, and in later years L.A. would embrace disastrously-expensive subways and accident-prone light rail. Now 85, Bradbury hasn’t given up. He still hopes that monorail will someday be built in L.A., as has been dreamt about since Joe W. Fawkes 1907 propeller-driven prototype in Burbank. After stating his case for monorail in today’s editorial, Bradbury concludes with a simple “Let the debate begin.”

L.A.'s future is up in the air. Los Angeles Times, 2/5/06.

BIG plans for Vegas! (2/3/06)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Ambitious plans to triple the size of the Robert N. Broadbent Las Vegas Monorail are moving forward at an aggressive pace. Construction could begin as soon as 2007. Curtis Myles, President of the monorail, stated that he is optimistic that the expanded system could be operational by 2010. The project also has the support of Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury and Regional Transportation Commission General Manager Jacob Snow. To this point it has generally been acknowledged that getting to the airport would be the next target, as 80 percent of McCarran International Airport passengers travel to the Strip. However, plans for the monorail are much grander with the addition of a line along the west side of the Strip. Monorail officials would like to plan the west side extension before several new properties are built, including MGM’s massive CityCenter project between Bellagio and Monte Carlo. Eight new miles of track and 15 new stations are included in the plans, as well as a second Operations, Maintenance & Storage Facility (OMSF). The monorail currently is four miles long and has seven stations. The present OMSF has room for four Bombardier M-VI trains, while the system operates with a total of nine. Studies are under way for the extensions and financing options are being looked at that won't burden taxpayers.

Tracks may lead to McCarran. Las Vegas Sun, 2/3/06.

Blue Line: current Las Vegas Monorail
Purple Line: possible extension alignments (based on description by Curtis Myles in Las Vegas Sun)

Connecticut River Monorail proposed (1/31/06)
Hartford, Connecticut. Yet another local group dedicated to the goal of a monorail system has been formed. Paul Stern, assistant editor of NE Magazine, envisions a cross-river monorail system “as the centerpiece of a vital and prosperous capital region, connecting Hartford's downtown with a promising new commercial district at East Hartford's Rentschler Field.” The system would connect downtown, a stadium, a music theater, science and convention centers and riverfront parks. Hoping to start a public discussion on the merits of a monorail system for the area, Stern has founded The Connecticut River Monorail Alliance (not affiliated with The Monorail Society).

Connecticut River Monorail Project. Hartford Courant, 1/29/06.
Connecticut River Monorail Alliance Hartford Courant, 1/29/06
Getting on (one) track. Hartford Courant, 1/29/06.

Shanghai Maglev extension possible (1/28/06)
Shanghai, China. The 30 kilometer Shanghai Maglev Monorail may be extended from the city station to Hongqiao Airport. Besides connecting the two major airports of the area, several important stops would be added to the current line. The extension is under consideration according to officials with a government-backed construction company, the Shanghai Construction Group. Xu Zheng, President of the group, said, "China's maglev construction technology has reached the world-class level. So technically speaking, we are confident about extending the maglev line." The maglev extension, if built, would run from the current Longyang Road Metro Station to Honqiao Airport with stops at the World Expo Site and the Shanghai South Railway Station. Shanghai's World Expo will take place in 2010. An extension to the City of Hangzhou is also under consideration for the future.

Maglev extension to link airports. China View, 1/28/06.

2nd Dubai monorail bidders short-listed (1/22/06)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. A month after Dubai's first monorail contract was announced for The Palm, an announcement on major progress for the second monorail in a series of proposed systems has been made. MTrans, Mitsubishi and Bombardier have been short-listed for the City of Arabia's monorail system in Dubailand. Anwer Sher, director of the City of Arabia, said "we are currently evaluating the main bidders and our decision will be based on technical superiority." The 6.7 km system will have 14 stations and could eventually be linked with the planned Dubai Metro. The system is estimated to cost $200 million and will open in 2009.

Iran President is monorail fan (1/19/06)
TMS Exclusive!
Tehran, Iran. The Monorail Society (TMS) has reported on Tehran’s interest in implementing a monorail system, but only recently we found out who has been the driving force behind this proposal. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s controversial President happens to be a monorailist. Ahmadihejad’s first claim to fame was his leadership participation in the 444-day U.S. Embassy hostage crisis in 1979-1980. Achieving more conventional accomplishments later, he was a student at Iran University of Science and Technology in the field of civil engineering and in 1987 got his doctorate in the field of engineering and traffic transportation planning. He then served as an assistant professor at the Iran University of Science and Technology. He was Mayor of Tehran from 2003 to 2005, where he initiated efforts for a monorail system. Project leaders have contacted TMS on several occasions requesting detailed technical information. Recently we have learned that Tehran Monorail planners continue to seek technical information to help them develop their own system, based on various existing straddle-beam technologies. Ahmadinejad, while he was mayor, said that Tehran eventually needs 400 kilometers of monorail and that the technology is one of the most modern modes of transit.

Chicago Navy Pier proposal (1/16/06)
Chicago, IL. Chicago's Navy Pier has an ambitious multi-year master plan that includes a 260-foot spokeless Ferris wheel, 80,000-square-foot water park, roller coaster, floating hotel and a monorail to transport visitors. Over a decade ago the 1914-built pier went through a $200 million renovation and became a top attraction in the city with over 8 million annual visitors. It's hoped that the master plan will boost the attractiveness of Navy Pier even more. The monorail will travel the length of the pier both inside and outside of buildings. Judging by renderings on the Navy Pier website, if built the monorail will be a small peoplemover scale system.

Navy Pier website. Includes Master Plan renderings.

Tokyo-Haneda ridership increase foreseen (1/16/06)
Tokyo, Japan. Since the opening of Narita International Airport, the Haneda Airport served passengers mostly domestic travel. Narita, limited in runway capacity and far from Tokyo, has not been able to serve the huge increase in international travel to Japan. Haneda Airport has been increasing international flights and a new international terminal is being built to accomodate that increase. The Tokyo-Haneda Monorail currently enjoys a ridership averaging around 71,000 passengers per day. Since 1998, the monorail has had the additional competition of a conventional rail line into the airport. Initially, monorail ridership decreased, but now both monorail and the Keihin rail line enjoy high passenger counts. Both companies are planning ways to capture more passengers when the new terminal opens around 2009.

Train firms seek Haneda advantage. The Daily Yomiuri, 1/12/06.

Chennai touts questionable plan (1/16/06)
Chennai, India. The City of Chennai government has announced that monorail has been selected for a city-wide transit system. The decision was based on a recommendation by Pallavan Transport Consultancy Services Ltd, which studied various modes of transit for Chennai. The government has invited global tenders for a design, develop, construct, finance, own, maintain and transfer system. The proposal has sparked criticism, as well as skepticism over its validity. One questionable aspect of the proposal is the scope of the project. The system is proposed to be made up of over 300 kilometers of track, which would dwarf the length of any other existing monorail system on the planet. India has had many monorail proposals for various cities over the past ten years, yet not one has moved forward to construction.

Monorail for city. The Hindu, 1/13/06.
Queries raised on monorail project. The Hindu, 1/16/06.
Invitation for Bids Document (Warning: Large file-23.7 MB). Includes routes & details.

Jakarta back on track? (1/3/06)
Jakarta, Indonesia. The Jakarta Post is reporting that the internal rift in the PT Jakarta Monorail consortium has been mended, which will ease the way to finalize financial backing for the project. JM President Director Ruslan Diwirjo says that 98 percent of the shares in the company are now controlled by PT Indonesia Transit Central. Omnico Singapore, Pte. Ltd. is left with 2 percent, down from 45 percent. Omnico had fought for maglev technology provided by Rotem of South Korea, while PT Indonesia Transit Central wants a Indonesia-developed monorail. Ruslan says Omnico lost its shares because it didn't provide more capital. Ruslan is not disclosing the identities of investors the company evidently now has lined up, but says that will be revealed upon the completion of the "financial closing." The government has given PT Jakarta Monorail an ultimatum to get its financing in order or it will terminate the city's agreement to build the system.

Jakarta Monorail ends rift, starts work. Jakarta Post, 1/4/06

SMP archive gift to TMS (12/18/05)
Fremont, California. Undoubtedly the biggest disappointment of 2005 came last month when voters ended the long-held dream for an expanded monorail system in Seattle. Staff members of the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) quickly acted upon the voter mandate and started the process of closing shop. While the grass roots movement for monorail in Seattle fell short of its goal, history will show it to be one of the most amazing transit stories of our time. Grass roots efforts of monorail activists came within two months of construction of a system that wasn't conceived of at City Hall. One positive outcome as a result of the end of the project is that The Monorail Society (TMS) is the recipient of a gift of some of the monorail materials collected over the years at SMP. Sandi Fukumoto, SMP's Manager of Board Relations/Special Projects, contacted TMS and offered some "leftovers" that weren't going to the State of Washington for their archives of the project. TMS President Kim Pedersen gladly accepted Fukumoto's offer. Within a couple of weeks, a box of materials arrived at TMS headquarters in Fremont, California. Many items related to the Seattle project are included. Several historical items of monorail proposals from the past are also included. Alweg booklets and articles include proposals from the 1960s for Detroit, San Francisco, Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and many items for the infamous Los Angeles Alweg proposal of 1963. Pedersen said, "we are eternally grateful to Sandi and the SMP for sharing these important items with TMS." The TMS archives are accessible by prior appointment to Monorail Society members. If interested in information from our archives and you are unable to make your way to Fremont, research services are unfortunately unavailable at this time (see Information Request page).

Fare changes coming to Las Vegas (12/15/05)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Local residents will be given additional incentive to use the Robert N. Broadbent Las Vegas Monorail while they are on the Strip soon. Starting January 1st, Nevada state residents will be able to ride the monorail for only one dollar. All they need to do is show a Nevada I.D. and hand over a dollar for the trip. Out-of-state visitors face an increase in ticket prices however, as a single ride will jump from three to five dollars. Multi-pass discounts will still make monorail trips a bargain compared to other transit choices in Las Vegas. A one-day (24-hour unlimited) pass will be $15, a 10-ride pass will be $35 and a two-ride fare will be $9. One catch to the dollar fare is that Nevadans must buy the special tickets at the Downtown Transportation Center, located at 300 N. Casino Center Blvd.; the South Strip Transfer Terminal, located at 6675 Gillespie Street; or at the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada’s offices at 600 Grand Central Parkway, none of which are near a monorail station. The Nevada citizen fare also has a limit of only four single-ride tickets per person per day. Las Vegas Monorail President Curtis Myles says “we want to encourage our local residents to enjoy the monorail during their visits to the Strip, but more importantly, we want to say thank you to the community for the support we continue to receive as we strive to develop innovative transportation solutions for both our growing community and resort corridor guests.”

Monorail fare changes. KVBC TV, 12/14/05.

Hitachi wins The Palm contract! (12/14/05)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Marubeni Corporation announced today that on December 10th it was awarded a contract to build a $390 million monorail on Dubai’s new resort island, Palm Jemeirah. The 5.4 km system will use Hitachi Monorail technology and feature four stations. Marubeni will be the primary contractor of a consortium that includes Hitachi Ltd., Nippon Signal Co., Omron Corp., Obayashi Corp. and Oriental Construction Co. The monorail will be the first major monorail system to be built in the Middle East, and will expand Hitachi’s Alweg-based technology further outside of Japan. The system will feature ATO (Automatic Train Operation), and an initial carrying capacity of 2400 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd). There will be four three-car trains, and fixed facilities will be capable of eventually supporting 6000 pphpd. The monorail should also be a stunning example of aesthetic, elevated transit set amongst spectacular new resort properties on the man-made islands, which have been under construction since June, 2001. Hitachi will deliver the system in 36 months and public operations are slated for December of 2008. The consortium hopes that the Palm Monorail will be a springboard for other contracts for monorail in the Middle East. Congratulations from TMS!

Art Rendering courtesy of Marubeni Corporation

The Palm website
Hitachi Monorail

Ultimatum for Jakarta Monorail (12/5/05)
Jakarta, Indonesia. Jakarta’s Governor Sutiyoso has given PT Jakarta Monorail (JM) an ultimatum. According to the Jakarta Post, he said that JM should secure investors or the agreement with the city for the system will be terminated. Sutiyoso said "PT Jakarta Monorail has promised that the financing of the two lines of the monorail construction would be concluded in September, but until now we have not received any report about the progress." Jakarta Monorail’s director Sukmawaty Syukur countered that the company is in the process of “financial closing.” Syukur said that several financial institutions have expressed interest in financing the monorail project, but progress has not been possible due an internal rift between JM’s supporting companies, PT Indonesia Transit Central (ITC) and Omnico Singapore, Pte. Ltd. The rift is over who will supply vehicles for the system. The Indonesia Consortium of Monorail Industries (ICMI) was selected as the train supplier, but Omnico prefers South Korea’s Rotem. JM and the administration have already terminated a previous contract with MTrans of Malaysia to build the system. After the MTrans termination, Hitachi of Japan also failed to secure the project’s contract with JM. Some construction was started in June of 2004 and the monorail's first phase was originally scheduled to open in 2007.

Jakarta Monorail warned for sluggish progress. The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, 12/07/05.
Jakarta Monorail website ("under construction" since project inception)

Driver and design error speculated (11/27/05)
Seattle, Washington. In the twelve hours since the Seattle Center Monorail incident last night, more details have come to light. The accident took place at the Westlake Center portion of the track where the two tracks pinch together to allow side loading from the shopping center. The original split track station from the 1962 Century 21 World's Fair had been removed in the late 1980s, and the prior station would have made last night's accident impossible to happen. The new station requires a protocol to avoid just the kind of accident that happened last night. Drivers must always be aware of the location of the other train before entering the Westlake Center Station during two-train operations. Since there are only two trains, they must visually see the other train pass them towards Seattle Center, and there is also another important visual clue for drivers before entering Westlake. Before the track pinches together, there is a go/no-go light signal before a slight curve into the station. That curve prevents an approaching train from seeing if the station is clear, thus the signal and visual confirmation of a train pass become more important. Judging from images posted in today's Seattle Times, the monorail will be inoperative for a long period of time. Not only are both trains squished together and will require a good deal of repair, but an accident investigation and review of procedures may take considerable time. Monorailists have been concerned with the Westlake Station redesign ever since it was built. Besides increased collision danger, the pinched track prevents any hope of system extensions further downtown. Another concern for this monorail is the lack of track beyond both stations in the event of an overrun. The Red Train was seriously damaged in 1971 when it entered the Seattle Center station too quickly during rain. 27 were injured in that collision and extensive repair was required before the train returned to service.

Monorail trains collide. Seattle Times, 11/27/05 (includes photo essay)
Monorail Trains Collide In Downtown Seattle. KOMO TV, 11/26/05 (includes photos and Quicktime video)

In this 2002 TMS photo, the Blue Train (background) emerges from Westlake Center Station at the point where tracks squeeze together and where last night's accident occured. The Red Train (foreground), sits motionless here during driver training. A signal to warn drivers when Westlake is occupied is hidden by the train.

Seattle Center Monorail trains scrape sides (11/26/05)
Seattle, Washington. The two Alweg trains of the Seattle Center Monorail scraped one another near Westlake Center over Fifth Avenue tonight. The track pinches together and only one train is allowed at Westlake Center Station at a time for unboarding and boarding. The original multi-ramp station was removed in the 1980s and replaced by a squeeze-together, side-load station on the side of the Westlake Shopping Center building. A signal is located to the north of Westlake to prevent a train from entering the station when it is occupied by the other train. Witnesses said one of the monorail drivers honked and waved to the other before the accident occured. Glass is on the ground and firefighters evacuated over 30 passengers with ladders. No injuries have been reported.

Pinched track at Westlake Center, looking towards area of collision

Monorail trains collide in downtown Seattle. KOMO TV, 11/26/05.
Monorail trains collide near Westlake. Seattle Times, 11/26/05.

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