News Briefs Archives
May 17 - July 20, 2003

photo courtesy of Andrew Grantham

Putrajaya Monorail under construction! (7/20/03)
Putrajaya, Malaysia. Thanks to the eagle eye of TMS member Greg Keleshian, we have confirmation that the second project by Monorail Malaysia is well under way. The Putrajaya Monorail is under construction and evidence has been found online by Keleshian. Putrajaya Monorail will consist of two lines. One line will be 12 km long with 17 stations and the second will be 6 km long with six stations. The system will be mostly underground on the central island and elevated in the city's 'mainland' areas.

Two construction pictures of Putrajaya Monorail. Structurae website.


General Atomics building test track. (7/8/03)
San Diego, California. Urban maglev, a rail system that operates at speeds appropriate for urban transit applications, is quietly making major progress at General Atomics in San Diego. A 120-meter long test track is being built to test a full-scale vehicle at the San Diego facility. The track will include 50-meter radius curve. Once the track is ready, a test period of twelve months will commence. The chassis for the vehicle has already been manufactured in Pennsylvania by Hall Industries and shipped to General Atomics. Once testing at the San Diego facility has successfully concluded, it is hoped that a passenger-carrying demonstration line will be built. One possible location is for a "Sky Shuttle," a 2.5 mile dual guideway maglev is being proposed for California University of Pennsylvania campus in California, Pennsylvania. The university backs the project and the campus has a varied topography that would further test the maglev's capabilities.

Lesser-known maglev gets Pennsylvania push. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 7/4/03.
General Atomics website
TMS Maglev Monorail page.


King County begins collecting signatures. (7/4/03)
Seattle, Washington. Backers for an expanded monorail system, built upon the foundation of the Seattle Monorail Project, received the OK to begin collecting signatures to put their plan before voters. King County Monorail has until Sept. 29 to collect 45,000 valid signatures. A kick off party is being held today at the Seattle Center Monorail station. The initiative calls for creating a commission to come up with a plan for a monorail system, similar to what voters asked for with the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) in Seattle. The ETC plan for a 14-mile monorail was approved by voters in 2002. If voters vote yes for the King County initiative (providing it gets to the ballot), the commission would take two years to come up with a plan. Voters would then decide whether to go ahead with the plan or not. By the time that second vote would take place, the Green Line project should be well under way and voters will have a better sense of what they could get for King County. King County Monorail supporters are suggesting a 59-mile system between the Eastside, south King County and Seattle.

Petition drive OK'd for countywide monorail. Seattle P-I, 7/3/03.
King County Monorail Website


Dutch Wonderland train auction. (7/4/03)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania. On July 28th an auction will be held in which the last remaining "tube" monorail train from Dutch Wonderland will be sold. The Universal Design (UDL) system was originally installed at the park in 1965. Three of the UDL-built trains circled the park for years, then in 1989 an after-hours fire destroyed the Red and White trains. Two new boxier-looking trains have operated at the park since the early 1990s. Monorail Blue, the train currently up for auction, has sat idle for the most part during the last decade. Perhaps it can be brought back to life at another amusement park setting?

Dutch Wonderland page by David B. Simons, Jr.
Jennings Auction Group website
E-mail Jennings Auction Group


Clarian NOT-a-monorail opens. (6/30/03)
Indianapolis, Indiana. The Clarian People Mover is now open for business in Indianapolis. The system was designed by SDI and uses vehicle bodies very similar to that of Von Roll monorails. However, the track for each train is clearly dual-railed, and therefore NOT a monorail. This doesn't keep some in the press from calling it a monorail, but we TMS members know better, don't we? So why the News Brief? Some folks have still been kind enough to write us and point out that we've not listing "the new monorail in Indy." Evidently two tracks still means "mono" to some. Thanks, but we aren't the People Mover Society. Please refer to our What is a monorail? page if you're still confused by all this. For further information on the new system, an external link is provided below.

Clarian People Mover information. Clarian Website.


Seattle mayor speaks on landmark quandary. (6/28/03)
Seattle, Washington. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels yesterday urged council members not to stand in the way of the new 14-mile Green Line monorail by declaring the old Seattle Center Monorail's columns and tracks a historic landmark. He may get his wish, most council members have said they were already leaning against designating the "thick concrete columns and tracks" a landmark. If the council sees fit to protect the 1962 monorail track, it would complicate the Seattle Monorail Project's plans to tear down the old line to make way for the new one, to be built by Bombardier or Hitachi (see article below). Councilman Nick Licata, who chairs the council committee dealing with monorail matters, agreed with Nickels. "We're all dearly fond of the old monorail, but there's no reason why those ugly concrete columns have to stay up." The Seattle Popular Monorail Authority has stated it would work to preserve the Alweg trains, one possibility would be placement in a museum. Some preservationists are vowing to continue the fight to save the old system in its entirety.

Nickels opposes saving old monorail columns. Seattle P-I, 6/28/03.

photo by Keith Walls


Seattle bidders go online. (6/25/03)
Seattle, Washington. It's a big moment for monorailists in North America. Keith Walls, Monorail Society Vice President, stated "today is a banner day for monorailists all over the USA as well as the world. Think about it. Just five short years ago the thought of two of the world's largest transit manufacturers bidding for a MONORAIL system [in the USA] would have been unthinkable." Believe it! Two teams made up of heavy-hitter companies have lined up to compete for the privilege of building Seattle's 14-mile Green Line. The two teams have just gone online to officially bring the competition into the public eye. The teams are (in alphabetical order, and with links to their new websites):

  • Cascadia Monorail Company; made up of a team with Washington Group International, Fluor Enterprises, Hitachi, Mitsui USA, HDR Engineering, and other local Seattle and Washington state contractors and consultants. Cascadia will offer one of two sizes of systems and will narrow their selection down for the bid when the Seattle Popular Monorail Authority (SPMA) determines the final design criteria. The CM-110 is based on the Hitachi Small, the newest monorail design from Hitachi, which will debut in Singapore at Sentosa Island. The CM-120 is based on the Hitachi Large design, currently in use in Kitakyushu, Osaka, Tokyo Disney Resort and Tama, Japan.
  • Team Monorail; made up of Bombardier Transportation, Granite, Kiewit, Skanska, Parsons Transportation Group, Wilder, HNTB, URS, Carter Burgess and Gensler. Several of the companies are part of the team currently building the Las Vegas Monorail System in Nevada. Team Monorail is offering the Bombardier M-VI system, based on the Mark VI monorails developed for Walt Disney World, Florida.

TMS membership reaches 3000! (6/22/03)
Fremont, California. The Monorail Society (TMS) reached another milestone today with membership reaching 3,000. Since the humble beginnings of TMS in 1989, a steadily increasing number of people around the world has expressed their belief that monorail should be used for transit in more applications. Thanks to TMS, they have a gathering place to share information and ideas on how to make it happen. And they are making it happen. Monorails are being proposed and planned throughout the world in numbers never seen before. We thank every one of you that has taken the time to fill out the form on the Join the Monorail Society page. We encourage you to do so if you haven't already. We're growing by leaps and bounds, and more importantly, we're gaining ground! Thank you all.

Kim Pedersen


Jakarta ponders M Trans proposal. (6/22/03)
Jakarta, Indonesia. City administration officials are carefully studying a proposal from the Malaysian firm, M Trans Holding, for a monorail system in the City of Jakarta. M Trans Holdings, which is currently finishing the construction of the Kuala Lumpur Monorail, thinks that a monorail would help ease Jakarta's chronic traffic problems. According to the city secretary for development affairs, Irzal Djamal, "one of the things that is important to us is the price for passengers, and whether the price is feasible for the average Indonesian." M Trans is prepared to invest Rp 3.28 trillion (US$400 million) in the first stage of the project. The monorail, if built, would pass through the city and connect Bekasi and Tangerang.

City studies monorail proposal. Jakarta Post, 6/18/03.


Las Vegas downtown extension approved (6/16/03)
Las Vegas, Nevada. The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) unanimously approved hiring Transit Systems Management of Las Vegas to extend the new Las Vegas Monorail System from Sahara Avenue to downtown Las Vegas. Transit Systems will be the manager of the project's second phase. This follows an April 9 approval by the federal government of the project's Environmental Impact Statement. The RTC approval was the last step needed so that the project's final designs can be drawn up and so agreements can be entered for grants from the Federal Transit Administration. The extension will add 2.3 miles from the Sahara Station to downtown, with as many as four stations to be added. Las Vegas government officials and downtown businesses have been seeking to draw more visitors from the Strip for years and the monorail is seen as the best way to do it. Construction may start shortly after the opening of the first leg of the Las Vegas Monorail opens in early 2004.

RTC OKs firm to build monorail to LV downtown. Las Vegas Sun, 6/13/03.
Monorail extension still on for 2004. Las Vegas Business Press, 6/13/03.
Map of Las Vegas Monorail and downtown extension.


Monorail Malaysia bound for Middle East? (6/11/03)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Mtrans Holdings Sdn Bhd is holding talks with an unnamed business group in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) regarding a possible joint venture. Mtrans, builder of the soon-to-open Kuala Lumpur Monorail, is working with the group to set up a manufacturing facility for monorails and public buses in the UAE. "We have held serious talks with a big group in Abu Dhabi to start manufacturing facilities for monorail and buses," said Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra) chairman Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin. Zainuddin is leading the Malaysian delegation. If the venture comes to fruition, it would likely lead to the first transit monorail system in the Middle East.

MTrans eyes UAE venture. The Star, 6/11/03.


Ground broken for first Hitachi Small (6/7/03)
Sentosa Island, Singapore. The first of a new breed of monorail systems by Hitachi has broken ground in Singapore. Hitachi Small, a smaller, more maneuverable and affordable monorail than earlier Hitachi systems, will debut for the first time here in 2006. A 2.1 km dual-beam line will link Singapore's MRT transit line to Sentosa Island, a popular resort destination. The Sentosa Express will be driver operated; yet fully computerized. The Hitachi Small two-car monorail trains are capable of carrying 3,000 passengers per hour in each direction with 174 passengers per train. To date, access to the island has not been easy and the new monorail is expected to encourage more visitations. With four stations, the Sentosa Express will start at Harbour-Front MRT Station, cross the Sentosa Causeway Bridge and stop at three stations on the island. The 21-year old Von Roll Sentosa Island Monorail that currently circles the island will be dismantled by 2005.

Next stop: Sentosa in under 4 minutes. The Straits Times, 6/6/03. (includes Quicktime video)

courtesy of Rezn8


Las Vegas touts "thrill ride" (6/5/03)
Las Vegas, Nevada. As many have predicted, the Las Vegas Monorail is becoming a high-profile attraction/icon for the famous Strip, even before its 2004 opening. A recent Wall Street Journal article took a look at the marketing side of the Las Vegas Monorail Company, and printed large color illustrations of the Monster Energy drink train, the first new of the M-VI trains to sport advertising. To help pay for the construction of the system, the private authority building it is marketing it as "a tasteful, entertaining, captive environment" to advertisers. The a starting price tag is $1 million a year. What makes some cringe though is that the system is being touted as a "thrill ride." For years, monorailists have been attempting to distance monorail from the theme park association that many people have. In order for monorail to be accepted as a legitimate transit option for urban communities, monorailists say it is an effective mode that is "more than just a ride." Still, the Las Vegas Monorail will likely inspire more productive debate as rail is looked at in various communities. The Las Vegas Monorail will likely end up in TV productions and movies, much more than other high-profile monorails. As for selling monorail for urban transit though, Seattle's Green Line probably has a better chance of discarding the "theme park ride" typecasting in the USA.

Vegas Monorail to carry marketing blitz. Wall Street Journal (via azcentral.com), 6/3/03.

Hansen's Unveils Monster Monorail in Times Square. BevNet, 6/16/03.


Lockheed-Martin supports LA Maglev (6/5/03)
Santa Maria, California. This week the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) received an important boost in their efforts to build maglev. Lockheed Martin announced its support to ensure timely completion of a high-speed maglev project for Southern California. "We applaud SCAG's efforts to address serious transportation infrastructure issues in Southern California," said Ralph Tourino, vice president, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems. "We look forward to working with SCAG to build this proven, high-technology ground transportation system that could revolutionize the transportation industry." In 2002, SCAG awarded a Lockheed Martin-led team a three-year, $16-million contract to perform large-scale engineering pre-deployment studies and design efforts for the proposed maglev. The team includes Lockheed Martin, Transrapid International-USA and the IBI Group. The team is completing Phase 1 study efforts and will soon begin work on Phase 2 engineering. The proposed initial leg, if financing is found, will run between west Los Angeles and Ontario. A full intra-regional system could connect major destinations in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. The SCAG Maglev proposal is separate from the California-Nevada Maglev, which is proposed to eventually link Anaheim and Las Vegas.

Lockheed Martin Supports Maglev Deployment for Southern California. Space Daily, 6/4/03.
California Maglev Project website.


Lawmaker oversight of Las Vegas Monorail (5/28/03)
Carson City, Nevada. Nevada State Governor Kenny Guinn has signed into law a bill that boosts oversight of the Las Vegas Monorail project. SB362, by Senator Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, requires the Las Vegas Monorail Company to turn over financial data to the Legislature. Titus voiced concerns as a result of financial problems being experienced by the main contractor, Bombardier Inc. "You can see there are some real serious financial problems with that company," she said. "And that, I think, suggests that the state should be having more oversight into the issue." Titus added that the monorail project relies on funding from many sources and used "the state's good name" to generate bond revenue to pay for construction. The bond issue drew criticism as "corporate welfare" and was the largest in state history. Phase I of the monorail is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2004.

Nevada lawmakers get more oversight over Vegas Monorail. Associated Press, May 27, 2003,
Lawmakers urged to boost oversight of Vegas Monorail.
Las Vegas Sun, May 13, 2003.

  TMS website celebrates five years. (5/22/03)
Fremont, California. Computers; you love them, you hate them. Strangely enough, it was a hate moment that brought about the Monorail Society website. A major computer crash and loss of all files led to the decision to switch from printed newsletters to a monorail website for our communication tool. Monorail Society President Kim Pedersen had considered producing a website, but couldn't find time because of the labor-intensive and expensive to produce newsletter. Monorail Newsletter had been in production for eight years and was greatly appreciated, although readership was limited to a few hundred paying subscribers. When Pedersen's old computer crashed, it ended up being a blessing in disguise. He made the decision to leap into new territory and attempt webmastering of his first website. Since the Monorail Society went online on this day in 1997, TMS membership has climbed from a few hundred to nearly 3,000. Beyond these impressive number gains, the Monorail Society has become a respected source of information all over the world, for professionals and monorailists alike. Our thanks to all TMS members that have contributed and supported TMS and monorail promotion. Considering the advancements the movement has made in the last five years, we see great things happening in the next 5 years as well!

Bombardier vs. Hitachi


Two bidders for Seattle. (5/18/03)
Seattle, Washington. Not surprisingly, Hitachi and Bombardier are the two bidders for Seattle's 14-mile Green Line. They are two of the world's largest transportation companies, both with experience in monorail production. Hitachi Ltd. is part of the Cascadia Monorail Company. Its members include Washington Group International Inc., Fluor Enterprises Inc., Mitsui USA and HDR Engineering Inc. Team Monorail is the name of the Bombardier team. Its team members include Granite Construction Inc., Kiewit Construction Co., Skanska, Wiler Construction Co., Parsons Transportation Group, HNTB, URS, Carter & Burgess, Gensler and Transmax Group. Monorail Malaysia was believed to be a possible third bidder at one time, but currently they are concentrating efforts on completing the Kuala Lumpur Monorail and perfecting their relatively new product. Hitachi has built the vast majority of straddle-beam monorails in Japan, while Bombardier supplied trains for Walt Disney World and is building the Las Vegas Monorail System. May the best system win!

Hitachi, Bombardier vie to build monorail. Seattle P-I, 5/16/03.
Make Mine Walk-Through. Differences of two train types discussed in editorial.


Landmark debate heats up in Seattle. (5/17/03)
Seattle, Washington. Should a historic monorail be torn down to build a longer monorail system? That's the hot topic in Seattle these days, and a solution has yet to be worked out. When voters said yes to building the 14-mile Green Line in November of 2002, part of the proposed line was drawn along the same route that the Seattle Center Monorail has operated along since 1962. Now voices are getting louder that yes...a new monorail should be built, but no...the historic Alweg monorail should not be torn down for it. The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board recently unanimously voted to grant the monorail landmark status. The Seattle Popular Monorail Authority (SPMA) is lined up on the side of replacing the old line, yet preserving the trains. The SPMA believes that ridership would be far better on 5th Avenue than alternatives, but others would like to see the alignment moved back to 2nd Avenue or another route. As well as opposing the 5th Avenue alignment, opposition to the current plan to cross Seattle Center is increasing. It's another challenge for monorail planners to contend with, yet the agency has solved many problems to get to this point.

Letter to Landmark Board regarding historical Seattle Center Monorail. By Glenn Barney.
Landmark designation of monorail a simple call.
Seattle Times, 5/15/03.
Opposition to monorail route escalates. The Stranger, 5/15/03
TMS Panorama Pages include 360 images of Seattle Center Monorail.


D.C. TV gives monorail a look (5/17/03)
Washington, D.C. TMS member Karl Parker has done it again. In collaboration with Kim Pedersen, in 2000 he first edited the Monorail Society's video "Why Not Monorail?" Now he's gotten many shots from the video on television in the Washington D.C. area, and thereby got many good positive comments about monorail to viewers . WUSA TV recently did a story on Karl and his "mania" for elevated single-beam transit. The story can be seen online at the following link.

Traffic Solutions-if it works for Disney. WUSA TV, 5/7/03.


Milwaukee joins Campaign USA (5/17/03)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin. TMS member Alexander K. Naylor has jumped into monorail promotion with a great deal of energy, and he recently premiered a new website dedicated to promoting monorail for Milwaukee. Alexander suggests that Siemen's H-Bahn technology would be ideal for Milwaukee. H-Bahn systems currently operate at Dortmund University and Düsseldorf International Airport in Germany.

Monorail for Milwaukee website.
Campaign USA page.

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