News Brief Archives

News Brief Archives
December 18, 2009 - April 11, 2010

China's Transrapid clone (04/11/10)
Chengdu, China. The Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Company (CAIC) has unveiled its clone of a Transrapid maglev monorail train. The train will be tested and operate on the Shanghai Maglev line. The train was entirely constructed in China, with some components being supplied from German Transrapid developers. It is designed to operate at speeds up to 500 kph. The new train will operate on the Shanghai line during the 2010 World Expo and may serve as the prototype for additional maglev lines in the country. The Shanghai Maglev has carried over 33 million passengers since it opened in 2002

China unveils world's fastest Maglev train. China.org.cn, 04/09/10
China produces first home-grown maglev train. CCTV.com, 04/09/10 (includes video)

Las Vegas Monorail still has strong backers (04/05/10)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas Monorail has taken a beating in past years, mostly as a result of financial difficulties and overly-optimistic projections of ridership by the original developers. Still, ridership generates enough receipts to cover operating costs, which is rare amongst rail systems. The $650 million in startup loans remain the monorail's chief problem, and hopes are for bankruptcy reorganization to lighten up the long-range debt. Despite the problems, there are backers that envision a much better future for the system. Clark County's longest serving commissioner, Bruce Woodbury, remains an avid supporter and is a monorail board member. He was at the 1995 ribbon-cutting ceremony of the original MGM-Bally's Monorail, which was expanded into the current four-mile Las Vegas Monorail. At the 1995 event Woodbury told VIP party attendees that he envisioned the monorail running from downtown to the airport by the turn of the century. Unfortunately that didn't happen, but Woodbury remains optimistic. He would like to see the monorail extended to the west side of the Strip, as well as to McCarran International Airport. Woodbury says the monorail "has been successful in many ways," citing ridership that has thinned traffic snarls around the Convention Center. Woodbury is currently backing the development of an 20,000 person-capacity arena on Harrah's land behind the Imperial Palace, very close to the current Harrah's-Imperial Palace Monorail Station. That, along with other developments close to existing stations should increase ridership. Once the bankruptcy process is ironed out, the monorail company hopes to proceed with expansion plans.

Woodbury has too many fish to fry to officially retire. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 04/03/10.

Lightning fast progress in Mumbai (03/27/10)
Mumbai, India. If anyone doubts the speed of monorail construction, not only can they look to history, but currently they can look to Mumbai. Although construction for the first 8.9-kilometer system only began one year ago, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has announced that the project is already 60% complete. The first segment runs between Wadala and Chembur and features 7 stations. Once the first phase is complete, the monorail will then expanded to a length of 20-km and run from Chembur to Sant Gadge Maharaj Chowk.

60 per cent of the phase-1 on Mumbai Monorail complete: MMRDA. domain-b.com, 03/26/10.

Bombardier vs. Scomi in Sao Paulo (03/15/10)
Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Business Times is reporting that Bombardier of Canada and Scomi of Malaysia are the finalists for the Sao Paulo Monorail project. The US $ 1.7-billion monorail contract will reportedly be announced sometime this month or in April. Bombardier Inc. is the world's largest maker of electric locomotives and commuter trains, while Scomi is expanding rapidly with their Alweg-based monorail product. Scomi is bidding their Sutra monorail system but it's unknown if Bombardier is promoting their MVI system or their proposed 'Seattle train.'

Scomi partnership shortlisted for Brazil monorail job. Business Times, 03/16/10

Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev green light (03/13/10)
Shanghai, China. The on-again, off-again Shanghai-Hangzhou Maglev project may have a green light, according to a new article in the Shanghai Daily. Zheng Jian, the Ministry of Railways Chief Planner, stated that the project has been given the green light to move forward. According to Zheng, construction of the 199.5-kilometer line will begin later this year. The project was delayed in 2007 when Shanghai residents protested against the line. They were worried about a perceived danger of radiation emission. Environmental authorities have deemed the project safe. Top speed will be 450-kph and it will shorten from what is now an hour and a half trip down to one half hour. The Shanghai Maglev is the only revenue-producing system of its type, although there are and have been many other proposed Transrapid lines around the world.

Maglev extension given green light. Shanghai Daily, 03/14/10.

IMA conference in Kuala Lumpur (03/08/10)
Leusden, The Netherlands. The International Monorail Association (IMA) will hold its second annual 'Monorailex' conference this June in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The conference will feature sessions on urban mobility, technology, operations and on specific projects. Kuala Lumpur is the sight of Asia's first major monorail system outside of Japan. The Kuala Lumpur Monorail spurred the manufacturer, Scomi, to further develop its technology and market their monorail beyond the Malaysian borders. This has resulted in the Mumbai Monorail in India, and will likely result in other new monorail systems. The IMA's aim is "to provide a platform for the interaction between National, Regional, and Local Public Authorities, the Monorail OEM Industry, the Monorail Operating and/or Maintenance Companies, Monorail Consulting Engineering Companies and Monorail System Builders, with the purpose to aid in the responsible and efficient use of Monorail for Public Mass Transit."

Kuala Lumpur Monorailex 2010, June 9-10, 2010

Monorail for Baghdad? (03/03/10)
Baghdad, Iraq. Baghdad is notorious for its traffic jams. Mayor Salih Abdel Razzak says monorail will go a long way to help move people within the city. City officials are now planning an ambitious 36-kilometer 'monorail' line, with 13 stations in the city. Iraqi Railways Director Rafil Ussef Abbas said that the tender for monorail will be held soon. Abbas also said monorail is technically easier and cheaper to build than subway, so it may mean that this Middle East discussion of monorail may actually be monorail. The monorail would connect major districts of the city on both sides of the Tigris River.

Baghdad To Build Elevated Monorail, Subway. Radio Free Europe, 03/03/10.

Sydney collision (02/27/10)
Sydney, Australia. Two Sydney Monorail trains collided on Saturday, injuring four people. The collision took place at Darling Park Station, at the corner of Sussex and Market Streets. The first train was stationary as it was struck by the second train, which was running at a relatively slow speed. All passengers in the first train were able to disembark via the station platform, but 12 riders in the second train required rescue by police and monorail staff. Injuries were reportedly not severe, but three were taken to a hospital.

Sydney monorail crash injures four. Sydney Morning Herald, 02/27/10.

Jakarta Monorail restart? (02/18/10)
Jakarta, Indonesia. According to the Jakarta Post, the government of Indonesia is planning to restart the Jakarta Monorail project. Construction was halted in 2008 due to lack of financing and legal issues. Pylons have stood idle along roads in Senayan, Central Jakarta and Kuningan. According to Dedy S. Priatna, deputy of infrastructure at the National Development Planning Agency, “This March there should be a decision whether [the Jakarta administration] should pay the money [for the initial construction] to Jakarta Monorail. The updated plan to build the monorail should be completed in August.” He stated the monorail should be complete in 2015 or 2016. The monorail has had a checkered, on again-off again history. Some observers remain skeptical regarding the restart.

Abandoned monorail plan to be revived. The Jakarta Post, 02/01/10.

Las Vegas Monorail under fire (02/17/10)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Kick a monorail when it's down. That's the prevalent mood in Las Vegas right now, especially since the Las Vegas Monorail Company (LVM) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January. LVM seeks to hold back the debt collectors while it reorganizes. Wells Fargo and Ambac Assurance Corp. of Wisconsin, the insurer of $450 million of the monorail's bond, have been in dispute with LVM over whether Chapter 9 or Chapter 11 is appropriate. Arguments for both sides were made today in U.S. Bankruptcy court. Taxpayer groups are fearful that citizens will end up bailing out the monorail. However, according to an article in the Las Vegas Sun, legal experts say it's difficult to see how taxpayers would be held liable should the monorail continue to fail to pay its debts. Salaries and other expenses of LVM are getting attention as well. News articles in Las Vegas are consistently followed by reader comments suggesting the monorail be torn down. Pro-monorail posts are few and far between. Las Vegas Monorail President and CEO Curtis Myles today disclosed planned strategies to apply for Federal Transit Administration funds as well as pursuing partnerships with Chinese investors and government agencies. Those efforts would be to reach LVM's current golden goal, an extension of the system to McCarran International Airport. Meanwhile, the monorail continues to efficiently carry passengers between stops along the Strip, and revenues continue to cover daily operating expenses. It has carried over 40 million passengers since opening in 2004.

Las Vegas Monorail could seek partnership with Chinese. Las Vegas Sun, 02/17/10.
Monorail spending expected to be scrutinized at bankruptcy hearing. Las Vegas Sun, 02/17/10.
Las Vegas Monorail bonds downgraded after bankruptcy filing. Las Vegas Sun, 02/05/10.
Las Vegas Monorail argues against bankruptcy as municipality. Las Vegas Sun, 02/04/10.
After all the promises, will taxpayers be stuck with the monorail's bills? Las Vegas Sun, 01/22/10.

Financing announced for Bangkok Monorail (02/16/10)
Bangkok, Thailand. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has announced it plans to issue Bt20-billion in bonds to finance a monorail project and an additional Skytrain elevated light rail route. BMA spokesperson Thanom Onketpon said the monorail project would cost around Bt10.9-billion. The BMA is planning to build eight monorail lines around the city. The monorail will feature multi-modal connection stations with the existing Skytrain. Onketpon said that the BMA would initially proceed with two out of the planned eight monorail routes: the Yommarat-City Hall 2 route (Grey Line) and the Ekamai-Thonglor-Ramkhamhaeng University 2 route (Blue Line). This has been approved by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Sukhumband says he'll finish term on high note. The Nation, 02/17/10.
Commission approves new Skytrain routes. The Nation, 02/09/10.

India's monorail era beginning (01/18/10)
New Delhi, India. As the Mumbai Monorail project moves into its most active construction phase, the potential for monorail in many other cities in India looms large. In fact, India transport planners are currently seriously exploring monorail for more cities than any other country in the world. Scomi Engineering Bhd is in the forefront of the big push for monorail throughout the country. Scomi sees India as the "promised land" for public transport projects. Scomi's competitors, Hitachi and Bombardier, are also pursuing business in India. Scomi currently holds the upper hand however, having won the Mumbai Monorail Project bid war. Mumbai, while building its first monorail line, is already looking at adding more lines in the area. Other Indian monorail projects in discussion include Bangalore, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Patna and Pune.

Scomi bets big on India to buoy its monorail business. Deccan Herald, 01/15/10.
Monorail in Mumbai by 2011. 20 minute TV interview - Scomi's Global Marketing Head, Kanesan Veluppillai. NDTV.

Las Vegas Monorail files for Chapter 11 (01/13/10)
Las Vegas, Nevada. The Las Vegas Sun is reporting that the Las Vegas Monorail filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Revenues from advertising and ticket sales have been enough to cover operating expenses, but not enough to pay off the $650-million in construction and startup loans. Board Member Bruce Woodbury said in December that an extension to McCarran International Airport is still being planned. The extension is expected to give ticket sales a huge boost. However, that probably won't happen until the current debt is restructured. Then financing stands a better chance of being attracted for the line.

Las Vegas Monorail files for bankruptcy protection. Las Vegas Sun, 01/13/10.
Monorail files for bankruptcy as a step toward airport extension. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 01/13/10.

Mumbai: first car, first test (01/12/10)
Mumbai, India. Scomi has delivered the first monorail car to the Mumbai Monorail project. The car departed Malaysia on January 2nd. It was manufactured in Scomi's new state of the art manufacturing facility in North Kuala Lumpur, which can handle several projects at the same time. Scomi will deliver a total of 60 cars for the first phase of the Mumbai Monorail. The first vehicle tests on a portion of track in Mumbai are slated to take place on India's Republic Day, January 26th. The vehicle will initially run a short distance of 500 meters between Wadala Depot to the Regional Transportation Office (RTO) office. Officials state that the monorail project is on schedule. Pylons are in place and installation of the beams "has been put on the fast track," according to a Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) official. Work on the first 18-station, 20-kilometer segment from Chembur to Wadala depot is scheduled to be completed by November. The second segment, from Wadala to Jacob Circle, is scheduled for completion in April of 2011.

Scomi Brings India's First Monorail Car. PR Newswire, 01/05/10.
Republic Day trial for monorail: half-km's zip through Wadala. Indian Express, 01/13/10.
Monorail test run on R-Day will be for only 500 metre. Times of India, 01/13/10.

New minirail in Brazil (01/04/10)
Gramado, Brazil. In December, a small monorail opened at Aldeia do Papai Noel, a Christmas-themed park in the hills of Gramado, Brazil. The I-beam suspended monorail features standard industrial monorail parts. Eurethane wheels carry the train and passenger load and it is powered by chain-drive electric motors. While most passenger minirails of this type exist at amusement parks, similar minirails might make sense in many other small transit venues because of easy access to industrial monorail parts.

Monorail Aldeia do Papai Noel photo essay. Photographs by TMS member Leonardo Torres da Silva, including detail close-up views.
Aldeia do Papai Noel website

Red tape delays Milford Sound Monorail (12/30/09)
Queenstown, New Zealand. Promoters of a 43-kilometer monorail line to carry tourists to the Milford Sound area from Queenstown quicker is on hold until they obtain a green light from government officials. A revised concession application has been filed with New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC). The DOC will review the proposal, yet a decision isn't expected until late 2010. Riverside Holdings, the company behind the proposal, wants to build the $150 million single-lane monorail. The track would feature several passing lanes along the way to allow four trains to operate simultaneously in both directions. The monorail would be part of a three-mode journey including a catamaran, an all-terrain vehicle and the monorail. The company has already spent several million dollars on the project and they remain confident that the application will be approved. A competing proposal to shorten the trip to Milford Sound from Queenstown is for a 10.2 km vehicle tunnel.

Lengthy wait still for decision on monorail. stuff.co.nz, 12/28/09.
FiordLandLink website (features numerous detailed pdf documents on the proposal)

Jaipur Monorail proposal progresses (12/26/09)
Jaipur, India. The Jaipur Monorail proposal we reported on two years ago has progressed closer to reality. The state of Rajasthan has issued a letter of intent to Malaysian company MRails International Sdn Bhd. MRails will set up the Jaipur Monorail under a build, own, operate and transfer basis (BOOT). The government will provide alignments for the monorail, yet the company will not seek any financial help to develop the system. MRails will earn revenues from ticket sales, advertisements, food courts at stations and corridor development. The monorail trains will be hybrid with LNG engines and electric motors powered by batteries. Solar power will be used as well for train AC and lighting. MRails President Jeya Kumar stated, “The cost per kilometer is between Rs 50 crore to Rs 80 crore ($10.7 to $17.2 million) and we can build 50 km in 2 years.” MRail is developing a test track at their manufacturing plant in Penang, Malaysia. In January 2010 a Rajasthan government delegation will visit the MRail facility to see the system firsthand. If developed, the Jaipur Monorail may be the first fully hybrid monorail in revenue service.

Jaipur to get India's first monorail. TopNews.com, 12/20/09. (The title of story incorrect, the reporter is ignoring the huge Mumbai Monorail project under construction)
MRails International website

Tokyo diverts and adds station (12/23/09)
Tokyo, Japan. Construction is proceeding at a fast pace to add a diversion of the famous Tokyo Monorail track to a new terminal at Tokyo-Haneda International Airport. In 1978 most international airline traffic was diverted to the then-new Narita International Airport. Haneda was then limited to mostly domestic air travel. In recent years a loosening of regulations has allowed Haneda to increase international traffic once again. In October of 2010 a new International Terminal, will open. A diversion of the Tokyo Monorail track is being constructed, along with the addition of a new station at the terminal. Yuzi Kanazawa has graciously donated some of his outstanding photographs of the site, which are available for viewing in The Monorail Society Construction Gallery.

WDW ignored Bombardier back-up warning (12/22/09)
Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Bombardier, the manufacturer of Walt Disney World's Mark VI monorail trains, had warned the resort of the hazards of reverse direction operations, according to an article in the Orlando Sentinel. An operating manual provided by Bombardier to WDW states that operating trains in reverse is a "potentially hazardous operation even under the best conditions” and “strongly recommended” that an observer be stationed at the opposite end of a train whenever one is backing up. On July 5th the WDW Monorail System suffered its first fatality when 21-year-old driver Austin Wuennenberg was killed as another train collided with the train he was operating. The other train was backing up on to the wrong track with no designated observers watching. WDW now adheres to Bombardier's recommendation for spotters while trains back up. Reportedly, resort guests are no longer allowed to ride in the Mark VI cabs either. Those changes are part of an effort by the resort to improve monorail safety. Despite the tragic accident in July, the monorail system has operated at the resort with an impressive safety record since 1971.

Monorail guide warned of hazard when trains backed up without a spotter. Orlando Sentinel, 12/21/09.

Las Vegas Monorail considers Chapter 11 (12/18/09)
Las Vegas, Nevada. In an attempt to restructure its bond debt, the Las Vegas Monorail Company is considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. While on the surface that might seem like bad news, officials believe it may allow the system to finally be expanded to the airport and other destinations along the resort corridor. While revenues have been good enough to cover daily operating expenses, the company has not earned enough money to pay off the $650 million in construction and startup costs. Bruce Woodbury, monorail board member and longtime supporter of monorail, stated that they are negotiating a restructuring agreement with bondholders and its insurance company. Woodbury says that the monorail has been a success as far as relieving congestion in the resort corridor. If the monorail company does file Chapter 11, operations and services would not be interrupted. A slumping economy has not helped ridership, with less conventions in Las Vegas and less visitors to the area this year. The company plans to expand the monorail to McCarran International Airport and additional Strip resorts, but Woodbury says "until the current debt is restructured in a way that we don't have continuing unpaid principal amounts on that bond, we probably won't be able to attract financing for expansion. It's an economic necessity if we're ever going to go to the airport and other resorts, which I think we need to do."

Las Vegas Monorail Company considering restructuring debt. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12/18/09.
Las Vegas Monorail dealing with debt. (video story) KVBC TV, 12/18/09.

/ News Briefs Archives