News Brief Archives
April 28 - July 14, 2002

Monorail emerges from EMP.


Seattle update (7/14/02)
Seattle, Washington. Monorail supporters are leery of their City Council with good reason. At many critical points along the way during efforts for a citywide monorail system, the council attempted to kill the process and succeeded briefly at one point. To ease fears of monorailists, City Council members last week unanimously passed a resolution saying they intend to put a plan on the November ballot. The resolution also laid out a number of steps the city would take if voters agree to tax themselves to build a 14-mile monorail system from West Seattle to Ballard. Meanwhile, the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) has less than a month to choose a proposed route. Of recent, discussion has focussed on how to either circle or cut through the Seattle Center. Some Center officials aren't interested in the monorail crossing through the grounds, but owners of the Experience Music Project (EMP) and Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc. have asked ETC representatives to reconsider running via the Thomas Street alignment through the Center. Currently the Seattle Center Monorail cuts through the EMP in a building tunnel that was specially built for it. Museum creator Paul Allen wants the new monorail to use this same path, which would result in a cross-Center route. EMP spokeswoman Paige Prill, says the current monorail "gives 2 million riders per year a glimpse of our museum. Sixty percent of those are tourists." Another complication for the ETC has come in the form of Alweg monorail preservationists. They aren't happy with the idea of tearing down the original 1962 line to replace it with the proposed Green Line monorail. Several ideas have been tossed around to appease this seemingly new-found love of the old track (no noticeable protest was made when the original Alweg track was altered, shortened and the downtown station was demolished just over 10 years ago). Others believe that the importance of the Green Line precludes any historical importance of the old concrete. Even monorail's number one longtime proponent, the Monorail Society's President and Founder Kim Pedersen said "I'd love to see the old monorail trains preserved, and I'm sure they will be. As far as preserving the old concrete, that would be nice too, but I would much rather see the Green Line get built along the optimal passenger-carrying route. The ETC has found that Fifth Avenue is the way to go. If that means taking out the old track, do it." To date the ETC has been masterful of coming up with solutions to many problems during the planning process. As usual, many eyes are upon them for this latest challenge. Whatever they decide on this issue and others, it looks like a spectacular monorail system will be on the Seattle ballot coming November 5th.

Council publicly backs monorail on ballot. Seattle P-I, 7/9/02.
Monorail might run through Seattle Center: Passage through EMP back on the table. Seattle Times, 7/11/02.
Don't destroy monorail to build another. Seattle P-I, 7/12/02.

photo courtesy of Las Vegas Monorail
  Las Vegas update (7/14/02)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Beam number 200 has been cast. After it cures at the yard, it will be trucked and lifted into place in construction section L05, which is between the Chamber of Commerce and Harrah's. Pylons are being erected and track is being lifted into place at a furious pace. Within the last week the "hump" of track over a pedestrian bridge was lifted into place by the Convention Center. The highest point of the track is 59' 8", which ensures that future monorail passengers will be afforded a spectacular view of Las Vegas at this point. We have just added some wonderful new pictures in our Construction Gallery. Because of the generosity of several TMS sources there, we are able to bring you more pictures of monorail construction in Las Vegas than any other monorail project in the world. Meanwhile, over at the Las Vegas Monorail website, there are also some new images to enjoy. We're told that the company will be sending a helicopter up once a month for aerial photography of the progress. Two of the first helicopter images are on their site now. Also not to be missed at the LV Monorail website, a first look at a MVI car interior mock up (small version of the image at left). Now that the monorail is a real project and everyone can see that it WILL exist, it seems that the whole town wants a station. Again, looking at our Construction Gallery, be sure to see the amazing RTC map showing proposed routes for the Strip. Just about every resort property now sees the wisdom in having a monorail station and the map reflects that. Viva Las Vegas indeed!
  Reno Monorail group formed (7/14/02)
Reno, Nevada. Reno is a city of approximately 130,000 residents, but add filled hotel rooms and University of Nevada students and you can have pretty horrendous traffic. As reported here a couple of years ago, at one point monorail was discussed amongst officials as part of a regional plan. As of today, however, the Regional Transportation Commission's (RTC) plan is for more road lanes, car pool lanes, bus lanes, more buses and more park-n-ride. TMS member Don Kirk doesn't think that's enough, and he's joining Campaign USA efforts for monorail with a group backing monorail for the Reno area. We welcome his new Reno Monorail MSN Discussion Group and Reno Monorail Yahoo Discussion Group, Kirk states "We are preparing to begin (about September 1st) a six month research study on the situation and see if we can't come up with reasons why they should NOT allow us a franchise to construct and operate a Reno Monorail System." If you'd like to help, please join his discussion groups and include yourself on the "List of Supporters" page. Thanks Don and good luck!

Transrapid train at sea. (7/14/02)
Shanghai, China. The first Transrapid maglev monorail vehicle built for use in China by consortium member ThyssenKrupp Transrapid is on a "cruise" towards China. In June vehicle sections were loaded onto a ship in Bremerhaven. They are currently on their way to Shanghai. The trains are being shipped in pieces. The superstructures are welded into foils and the levitation units are packed into containers. When they arrive in in Shanghai, Chinese technicians will assemble the vehicle sections under the supervision of German engineers in the Maintenance Center near Pudong Airport. Soon after that, first trial runs will start on the track between Shanhai airport and downtown Shanghai. Commissioning of the operation control system supplied by consortium member Siemens Transportation Systems has already started. Three vehicles with five sections each will be used for the airport link. The last Transrapid vehicle sections will leave Kassel before the end of next year. An aggressive schedule has been maintained in the development of this first commercial Transrapid system. Commercial operation of the Transrapid will start at the beginning of 2004. The train will run at ten-minute intervals at an operating speed of 430 km/h and reduce the journey time between Shanghai's center and Pudong International Airport to just eight minutes.

Transrapid website.

  Surprise from China! (7/6/02)
Chongqing, China. Every once in a while, one sneaks up on us! A major new ALWEG-style monorail system is under construction in Chongqing, China. The system will be 17.4 km long and have 17 stations. The line starts at Jiaochankou in the city's central district and ends in the industrial area of Xinshancun. Plans already exist to extend the line another 6.2 km to Fengshouba. Under construction since January of 2001, the intitial line will consist of 15.2 km of elevated guideway and 2.2 km of subway tunnel. Three of the 17 stations will be in the subway portion of the line. The Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) is providing a loan to finance the development of the monorail. The Chongqing Monorail will be capable of carrying 30,000 passengers per hour and is scheduled to open in 2005. Another major system proves again that monorail isn't just for theme parks and zoos!

Chongqing Metro Website. Mostly in Chinese, features art renderings and construction pictures.
British Embassy page on rail developments in China. Includes details of Chongqing Monorail.

Photo courtesy of Kuala Lumpur Star


Kuala Lumpur makes demo run. (7/2/02)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Kuala Lumpur Monorail gave journalists a 15-minute first ride yesterday. As the monorail's first operation with passengers, the demonstration run went from Bukit Bintang station in the heart of the city's shopping district to Medan Tuanku and Hang Tuah stations. Between July 18 and July 30, the general public will be able to ride for free on the monorail between six stations; Hang Tuah, Imbi, Bukit Bintang, Raja Chulan, Bukit Nanas and Medan Tuanku. The entire 8.6 km system won't be complete until September, so the initial free ride period will have two trains running shuttle along a portion of the line. Once the entire system is open there will be 11 stations. Trains will depart every five minutes during peak hours. 80% of the project has been completed. The Kuala Lumpur Monorail is being built by Monorail Malaysia. The trains bear many similarities to the 1961-built Seattle Alweg monorails. Reportedly at least one of the consultants on the Malaysia project at one time worked for Seattle Monorail, right where original Alweg blueprints still reside.

Kuala Lumpur Monorail crosses monorail-exclusive bridge over highway.

City's monorail system takes its first passengers. Kuala Lumpur Star, 07/02/02

art rendering courtesy of Project ORB


Orlando Monorail organization established. (6/30/02)
Orlando, Florida. Campaign USA continues to grow. Monorail Society members have recently established a new group called Project-ORB. David S. Perkins, Project Director for Project-ORB, developed a slick looking website in an effort to convince Orlando citizens of monorail as an alternative to light rail. Lynx, the local transit authority, has relentlessly been pushing for light rail, despite the tourist industry's interest in a grade-separated monorail instead. Along with Perkins, Project-ORB is headed up by Charles Sullivan (Business Manager), Keith Walls (Technical Director) and Charles Fernandez (Creative Team Member). Florida TMS members are encouraged to join the effort and help make an Orlando Monorail become a reality!

Project-ORB website

  Bangkok amusement monorail fire. (6/26/02)
Bangkok, Thailand. On Sunday fire broke out on a small amusement park monorail in a Bangkok shopping mall, killing two girls, aged 6 and 8. Lt. Gen. Jongrak Juthanon, deputy chief of Bangkok Metropolitan Police, said a short-circuit caused the fire. He said two other children were injured when they fell out of their car, while several others who were riding the train when the fire broke out escaped unharmed. The flames prevented the two girls from being rescued, and they died before the fire was extinguished, Juthanon said. Police investigators found that the ride had no circuit breaker installed, nor was there any fire-proof insulation between the compartments and the engine. The monorail is at Fashion Island, a mall on the northeastern outskirts of Bangkok.

renderings courtesy of Hitachi


Singapore to get first small Hitachi Monorail. (6/21/02)
Sentosa, Singapore. Hitachi Asia Ltd. (Hitachi Asia), a wholly-owned subsidiary and regional Asian headquarters of Hitachi, Ltd., today announced that it has won a S$78 million (J¥5.4 billion) contract from Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) to build a new monorail system, "Sentosa Express." The 2.1 km long double track line will link the main island of Singapore and Sentosa Island, with gateway stations at World Trade Centre's Harbour Front MRT Station and Central Beach on Sentosa. The line will improve access to Sentosa Island from the southernmost tip of Singapore. The monorail route will have four stations. The Sentosa Express will be the first in the world to use Hitachi's new small monorail system. The system was originally developed by Hitachi in Japan as a small, standard and cost-effective solution to the transportation needs of small to medium-sized cities. Hitachi states that the new monorail system features:

1. Small and light vehicles with low noise levels
2. Vehicles capable of greater passenger carrying capacity
3. Slim guideway structure and design flexibility of the planned route
4. Lower construction costs

Hitachi is optimistic that it will find many customers for this new smaller monorail, which has been in development for some time.


Hitachi Wins Contract To Develop "Sentosa Express." Hitachi News Release, 6/21/02.

photo courtesy of Daytona Beach News-Journal


American Maglev on track at ODU. (6/16/02)
Norfolk, Virginia. The first passenger-carrying maglev in the United States has been lifted onto its track in Virginia. The vehicle was recently shipped from its test track in Edgewater, Florida to Old Dominion University (ODU). The ODU prototype system will operate at 40 mph along an elevated straight track that is approximately two-thirds of a mile in length. American Maglev hopes to make 300 mph systems after getting operational experience with the ODU Maglev. The $14 million project is a partnership of ODU, American Maglev, Dominion Virginia Power, Lockheed Martin and other companies. The state State of Virginia also loaned $7 million, which will be repaid with revenue from future American Maglev projects. Lifting the train from the truck that transported it took less than an hour. If all goes well, the train should be levitating within a week. The system is scheduled to go into operation in September, carrying up to 100 people between three stations. The maglev will be totally automated.

ODU's Maglev train on track for future. Virginia Pilot, 6/14/02
Maglev train on track, local office closes. Daytona Beach News-Journal, 6/14/02

  Kuala Lumpur opening delay/phase in. (6/8/02)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Monorail Malaysia Company has been working feverishly to finish the Kuala Lumpur Monorail in time for a July opening. Unfortunately, non-monorail related issues have delayed the opening of entire 8.6 km system. Soh Yeh Bee, General Manager of KL Monorail System Communications, tells us "we are now planning to commence trial run on 1st July for two weeks with 6
stations and 2 shuttle trains in operation. By August 31st, which is our national day, we shall run with all 11 stations in operation. By around end September, all our trains should have been completed and running in the city and our operation control centre in full operation." A six-month delay occurred as a result of the process to relocate 150 squatter families and four Indian temples.

WDW Mark IV cab sold to collector. (6/8/02)
Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The news that the Walt Disney Company was selling one of their Mark IV Monorail Red driver cabs garnered a good deal of press and public attention. The twelve-train Mark IV fleet was retired in the early 1990's when Bombardier Mark VI trains were brought on line at the Florida resort. A total of 89 bids had been made for Monorail Red when the auction ended June 6th. An elated Chip Young of Tyrone, Georgia was the victor with a bid of $20,000. We're pleased to say that Chip joined the Monorail Society on the same day of his big eBay win. He tells us that he's received e-mails from all over the USA from folks wanting to know what his plans are for the cab. Chip states "I want to restore it and make an exhibit of it on my property." Congratulations Chip! You might wonder what happened to all the other Mark IVs. Two WDW Mark IVs continue to carry passengers in Las Vegas between Bally's and MGM. That leaves ten other trains. Legend/rumor has it that these trains were buried. That's a pretty sickening thought to a monorailist or monorail collector. Let's see now: 10 trains with 2 cabs each, assuming a sale at $20,000 for cab...they would have made $400,000 on used equipment! Wonder what will happen when and if they ever retire the Mark Vs and Mark VIs?

WDW Mark IV eBay listing.

WDW Mark IV junk yard in 1995 (anonymous photographer)

  Major decisions made in Seattle. (6/4/02)
Seattle, Washington. Monday was one of the most important days for Seattle's monorail project.    The Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) approved the plan it will take to voters in November. The plan consists of a 14-mile route between Crown Hill and West Seattle. The 19-station route will bypass most NIMBY residents on 2nd Avenue and run from Seattle Center via Fifth Avenue, where the current one-mile Alweg Monorail operates. The 1962-built line will likely be dismantled to make way for the new system. What may be the toughest sell to voters is the financing aspect of the project, a 1.4% car tab tax.  ETC Board Chairman Tom Weeks says "It's certainly a risk. Raising any tax is money out of pocket. But what we're hearing from people is that transportation is the number one problem in Seattle.  And people want time-certain mobility and that's what we deliver with the Monorail." Good luck ETC and monorail backers, the upcoming 1/2 year campaign will either make or break monorail's future in Seattle (and perhaps beyond).

Citywide monorail proposal on track. Seattle P-I, 6/4/02.
Monorail advocates unveil 19-stop plan. Seattle Times, 6/4/02.
  Austin Light de-Railed, for now. (6/3/02)
Austin, Texas. Light rail, which lost at the ballot box in Austin in 2000, will not appear on another Austin ballot for at least two years. Capital Metro's board of directors decided delay another effort for voter approval, concluding that the agency is not ready to wage another rail campaign in the six months before voters head to the polls. Fred Gilliam, newly elected head of Austins Cap Metro, stated "we must decide which technologies are best for this region. Public input is a must and the plan should be fully integrated with other core transportation services. An overall consensus plan that the community wants and supports." Reading between the lines, we say congratulations to the Austin Monorail group for showing citizens of the area that there are possibly better rail options for the area. Cap Metro will now have to either give monorail a fair shake in studies, or be much more aggressive in convincing the public that trolley is better than monorail. 2004 is now being bandied about as the next election opportunity for rail in Austin.

Orlando rail debate again. (6/3/02)
Orlando, Florida. Light rail died a bitter death in Orlando a few years ago, but it turns out that its not quite dead yet after all. Lynx and their consultants are not giving up and have identified a possible new route from downtown Orlando to the Orange County Convention Center for light rail. Problems still exist for Lynx however, one major one being property and business owners in the International Drive tourist area don't want light rail in their neighborhood. They want their own transportation service most likely some sort of sleek monorail according to a local newspaper. An International Drive business-proposed monorail, which hasn't gotten much press, would likely cost $350 million. Is it possible that the International Drive businessmen are on to something? Some are suggesting "why not kill the light rail project and make the whole system a monorail?" The alignment has features that promoters suggest would be perfect for a monorail. The cost of the light rail segment is expected to cost nearly $500 million. Orlando area TMS members and International Drive businessmen interested in backing monorail for the area should contact TMS Vice President Keith Walls at kswalls@bellsouth.net .

Another route for light rail emerges. Orlando Sentinel, 5/31/02.

  Add Brighton to the list. (5/31/02)
Brighton, England. Add Brighton to the growing list of United Kingdom cities that are seriously considering monorail. The Brighton Monorail Company has announced a joint venture agreement with Ambersham Holdings Ltd. to develop a monorail for the coastal community. Ambersham Holdings subsidiary CarrWest is also developing an Intamin-designed monorail system for nearby Portsmouth. Ambersham is the main United Kingdom agent for the Swiss Manufacturer Intamin Transportation. Lomax Cassidy and Edwards will be the architects for the design of the proposed Brighton system. The monorail, named the Marina City Link, would run from Brighton Marina to Brighton Pier. David Courtney, Managing Director for Brighton Monorail, says "The Marina City Link would achieve in bolting the Marina to the city by creating a fast transport link between the city's major leisure venues." Courtney tells TMS that the response from the public has been excellent. The company will submit plans for the permit process within the next three months. He hopes that Brighton will be the first city in the United Kingdom to build an Intamin monorail system.

photo courtesy of American Maglev


American Maglev on the move. (5/31/02)
Edgewater, Florida. The United States now a passenger-carrying maglev-monorail. American Maglev recently ran their 12-ton car along a test track in Florida. The car will undergo further testing at the facility, then be transported to Old Dominion University where it will be the first maglev in the world to go into full time revenue service. Other maglevs have been under development around the world for decades, but American Maglev has fast-tracked their design into a working system in record time. Development at the remote Florida test track has been underway for only a year. An elevated guideway, stretching almost two-thirds of a mile, is already in place on the ODU campus. Metal track will be delivered and installed in phases over the next month.

Taking a maglev for a test drive. The Virginia Pilot, 5/28/02.
Volusa company insists it's on the right track. Orlando Sentinel, 6/2/02.
American Maglev Website. Downloadable videos of the test can be viewed at this site.


WDW Mark IV-ultimate collectible. (5/25/02)
Lake Buena Vista, Florida. How much of a monorail fan do you think you are? What could be considered the ultimate monorail collectible goes up for auction bidding this Monday, the pilot cab of Walt Disney World's original Mark IV Monorail Red. The Martin-Marietta-built train ran from Walt Disney World's opening year of 1971 and was retired in 1993 when Bombardier's Mark VI trains had taken over duties at the resort. Bidding will start $100 to commemorate Walt Disney's 100th birth anniversary. This item would be terrific for our proposed Monorail Museum, but Disney is requiring the winning bidder to sign papers agreeing to use it only as a collectible (besides, we don't have the kind of money it will take to win!). Bidding begins Monday, May 27th at www.disneyauctions.com.

Disney monorail car zips to eBay auction site Monday. Orlando Sentinel, 5/24/02.

  Moscow Monorail construction progresses. (5/25/02)
Moscow, Russia. According to Anton A. Chigrai, the Moscow Monorail will be shorter than originally planned. Under construction now is a 5 km dual-guideway line with either four or five stations. While the system is Intamin-designed, the trains will be build at CNIISM Institute, a company that specializes in composite materials. See our Construction Gallery for the first image of the guideway under construction and a diagram of the train.


Transrapid study for Southern California (5/25/02)
Santa Maria, California. A Transrapid/Lockheed Martin/IBI Group constortium has won the competition to provide a $16 million engineering feasibility study for proposed maglev monorail routes in Southern California. The Lockheed Martin-led team will take approximately three years to do the study. The three-phase study will focus on assessing four potential maglev corridors. An interesting political dynamic situation exists in California, in that the California High Speed Rail Authority has embraced "conventional" steel-rail for a separate statewide high speed rail system. The Authority has publicly come out against the efforts of Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) for maglev. SCAG has not been deterred however and the $16 million for the study backs up their determination to move forward with higher speed and safer technology. SCAG is a joint powers authority comprised of 165 cities and six counties with a combined population of 17 million residents.

Lockheed Martin Awarded $16 Million California Maglev Engineering Study Contract. Lockheed Martin website, 5/21/02.
Transrapid prüft mit Lockheed Martin Bahnstrecke in Südkalifornien. Die Velt, 5/24/02.
California Maglev Website.


Seattle monorail is loved. (5/16/02)
Seattle, Washington. Anybody out there trying to demonstrate the popularity of monorail? Take a look at the results of a recent poll conducted by Don McDonough of the polling group Evans/McDonough...

  • 80% of Seattle voters favor expanding the monorail. After hearing positive and negative messages, 80% of the people surveyed said they favor expanding the monorail. Only 19% were opposed.
  • 72% of Seattle voters say they will vote 'yes' on a $1.2 billion, 14-mile monorail expansion. Only 26% said they would vote no; 2% were undecided. Support for the full 14-mile line was higher than for a shorter monorail line.
  • 66% of Seattle voters say they will vote 'yes' on the monorail plan, even after learning of the cost to them. 31% said they would vote no, and only 3% were undecided.
  • Voters support the monorail because it offers quick and easy travel. Those surveyed noted quick, easy travel above traffic; good links to other forms of transportation; and quality of the environment as reasons they support the monorail.

Pollster Don McDonough says, "I've never seen support for a spending measure this high in my 14 years of polling." In other Seattle news, three members of the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) have formed Monorail Now!, a new group that will help promote the expansion of Seattle's monorail. The build or no build vote is just a little over 1/2 year away!

Sky-High Numbers. The Stranger, 5/16/02.
New group formed to promote monorail says voters support plan. Seattle P-I, 5/14/02

  Tall columns go up in Las Vegas. (5/4/02)
Las Vegas, Nevada.
Work continues at a feverish pace in Las Vegas. John Flores of G. C. Wallace, Inc. was kind enough to e-mail us the details. Ten beams were added this week in the area between the Sahara and Hilton Resorts. Concrete was added to the crossheads of the tallest columns of the Las Vegas Monorail (see image). This section of track will rise to 50 feet to cross over a pedestrian bridge at the Convention Center. At the precast yard in North Las Vegas they have been casting one to three beams a day for the LO4 line segment, which runs from the Convention Center Station along Paradise Road to Sands Avenue behind the Chamber of Commerce building. Shafts in front of the Convention Center are being drilled right now. Some utility relocation work remains in front of Hilton before the station and guideway constuction can start. Work is beginning on the switch at the Sahara Station. Shafts for the Operations Maintenance and Storage Facility (OMSF) building are complete as well as some work on the perimeter. Subgrade is being prepared for the building slab. Builders are waiting for a building permit from Clark County for the remainder of the structure. See our Construction Gallery for two pages of new construction pictures from Las Vegas.


Seattle's ETC promises refund to city. (4/28/02)
Seattle, Washington.
Seattle's Elevated Transportation Company Executive (ETC) Committee this week voted unanimously to return $150,000 or 5% of the ETC's 2002 budget to the City of Seattle. The move essentially shouts to the public "we ARE a different breed of transportation agency." Why the refund? "Because we are on schedule and under budget to complete the Seattle Monorail Plan in August for a November vote we wanted to take this action now," according to Tom Weeks, ETC Chairman. Kristina Hill, ETC Board Member elaborated, "I view this as a down payment on a repayment. By September we hope to return significantly more to the people of Seattle." The ETC continues to come up with public relations gems, one after the other. Today the agency announced "The Great Seattle Monorail Column Design Contest," which will take place May 4th at Westlake Park from 9AM to 1PM. The event gives an opportunity to Seattle architects, artists, community activists, engineers and other city residents to enter into a design contest for the best designs of supportive columns for the proposed Seattle Monorail. One more public relations coup for the ETC, as well as a great idea!

Monorail planners tout thrift, timeliness. Seattle Times, 4/24/02
Monorail agency to return $150,000 to city. Seattle P-I, 4/24/02.
Under budget, ETC returnd $150 to city. Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, 4/24/02.
Monorail Counting on Advertising Dollars. Seattle Stranger, 4/25/02.

    / back to current News Briefs