News Brief Archives

News Briefs Archives
February 11 - July 29, 2009.

Scomi pursues projects in Brazil (07/29/09)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Scomi is now crossing oceans to pursue new customers for their ALWEG technology monorail products. Stocks climbed to a six-week high after the company announced plans to bid for monorail projects in Brazil. Scomi Rail Bhd. is slated to sign an agreement with CR Almeida SA Engenharia De Obras of Parana, Brazil to jointly bid for the monorail systems. Scomi is building on the successful bidding of the Mumbai, India project, which is now under construction. The Scomi website recently returned to the Internet after technical issues required re-working it. A Scomi suspended monorail and Scomi maglev monorail have been added to their 'About Monorail' page, leading to speculation of future development of additional monorail products.

Scomi Engineering Rises on Brazil Monorail Plan. Bloomberg.com, 07/27/09.
Scomi website

Pennsylvania pursues Fed money for maglev (07/29/09)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania High-Speed Maglev Project and PennDOT have submitted a preliminary application for $2.3 billion to partially pay for a line between downtown Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh International Airport. The 19-mile, three-station maglev monorail line is part of a proposed system to be extended to the cities of Monroeville and Greensburg. The project is a public-private partnership between Maglev Inc. and PennDOT. Maglev Inc. President Fred Gurney says the project is one of the few truly "high-speed" projects seeking some of $8 billion in stimulus money for high-speed rail. "Most of the high-speed projects they're talking about in the stimulus are just about removing obstacles to getting railroads up to 79 or 110 miles per hour," Gurney said. The Pennsylvania project wants to use Transrapid technology, which is capable of speeds in excess of 250 mph. PennDOT says that providing funds become available, construction could begin as soon as 2011.

Maglev hopes to attract $2.3 billion to help design, build train system. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 07/26/09.
Pennsylvania High-Speed Maglev Project website

Shweeb - bicycle monorail (07/29/09)
Rotorua, New Zealand. Since November 2007, visitors to Agroventures Adventure Park in Rotorua, New Zealand have had the thrill of piloting and powering their own Safege-like monorail vehicles at speeds up to 25 mph. A dual-tracked loop allows for 'Shweebs' to race and bank around curves swinging out to 60 degrees. Seats adjust to riders exact height and gearing is similar to bicycles. Due to the low-friction guideway and aerodynamic vehicle design, attaining speeds require only 1/3 the energy needed for a mountain bike. While the Rotorua facility is classified as a Novelty Monorail, the developers of the technology see many possibilities for Shweebs beyond fun parks. To market Shweeb, corporate sites now exist in Newmarket, New Zealand and London, England. Geoff Barnett, who spent six years inventing the Shweeb, got his idea for the technology while living in Tokyo. "The idea of riding above the traffic jams on multi-level rails seemed to me the only possible way that Tokyo’s millions of residents could move around the city quickly and safely. It had the added advantages of being environmentally friendly and offering an aerobic workout," says Barnett. Shweeb promoters envision bicycle monorails being used as low-cost urban transport for commuters, tourists and shoppers. Lines could be build along public bicycle lanes and walkways and effortlessly cross obstacles like rivers, railways and roads. Low-environment impact installations could be built in public parks, forests or wetlands. Barnett also suggests they would be ideal for intra-campus travel at universities and business parks.

images courtesy of Shweeb

Shweeb-Rotorua, New Zealand
Shweeb corporate site-United Kingdom
Schweeb promotional video (YouTube)

IKCM working on monorails for Iran (07/24/09)
Hösbach, Germany. A new player has appeared on our monorail manufacturer list; International Kish Control Mechanic Company (IKCM) of Hösbach, Germany. IKCM was founded a mere 10 years ago in 1999, yet they are already involved in at least three major monorail projects in Iran, including one under construction in Tehran. T-supports have started to appear along Tehran streets, yet "challenges" with government/municipality issues are slowing progress for project managers. Another major project in Iran is for the city of Mashad. IKCM hopes to finalize the contract in late August for a 8-station, 16.5 km system. Trains will be supplied by Dessau (Germany) and the electrical system is to be provided by Siemens (Germany). Costs for the Mashad Monorail are estimated to be around 26.3 million Euros per kilometer. Yet another IKCM monorail is in initial planning for 25 kilometers in Qom, which will include 17 stations.

Tehran Monorail art rendering courtesy of IKCM

WDW Monorail operator fatality in collision (07/05/09)
Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Walt Disney World Monorails suffered their first fatality in 38 years of operations. Two Walt Disney World (WDW) Mark VI trains collided late last night at the TTC Station. The operator of one of the trains was killed in the cab where the two trains were crushed together. "We mourn the loss of our fellow cast member," Mike Griffin, Walt Disney World's vice president of public affairs, said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to his family and those who have lost a friend and coworker." The monorail is now closed and WDW is working closely with law enforcement to determine what happened.

Daegu polled on train design (06/08/09)
Daegu, South Korea. The citizens of Daegu are being given the opportunity to select their favorite train design from three choices. The three designs have been presented to Daegu by Hitachi, the builders of the Daegu Monorail, which is slated to open in 2014. All three designs are new from Hitachi and include: 1. A half-circular design 'portraying a rounded white cloud floating in the sky.' 2. A streamlined design 'exemplifying the beauty of an elegant curve.' 3. A straight-lined design 'embodying a high speed-capable but stable monorail train.' Subway passengers, merchants near subway stations and college students majoring in design are invited to take part in the decision. Citizens can also pick their choice on Daegu's official website. The poll ends June 20. After the train design choice is made, focus will shift to the interior design, which will be primarily based on yellow.

TMS members to celebrate Disneyland Monorail 50th (06/08/09)
Anaheim, California. This Sunday, June 14th, will mark the 50th anniversary of the Disneyland-Alweg Monorail System. On June 14, 1959, Walt Disney, USA Vice President Richard M. Nixon and the Nixon family cut (tore) the ribbon and took the first ride around the then one-station excursion over Tomorrowland. Only one train was available for rides that day, a three-car red Mark I, designed by legendary Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr. Gurr served as driver of the monorail that day too. No special events have been announced by the Disney Company to celebrate the 50th anniversary, but a group of The Monorail Society (TMS) members plan to gather at the park and celebrate the event. If you are a TMS member and would like to attend, details can be found in the TMS Discussion Group. Hope to see you there!

New monorail association to meet in Wuppertal (06/08/09)
Leusden, The Netherlands. Brisk Events owner Jaap Ketel, organizer of the recent Monorailex 2009 conference in Dubai, has announced intentions to found an International Professional Monorail Association. The formal institutional meeting will take place in the WSW offices in Wuppertal, Germany on November 26, 2009. Wuppertal is the home of the famous Wuppertal Schwebebahn, the oldest operating monorail system in the world. The meeting will coincide with the Railway Interiors Expo in Cologne, Germany. Ketel invites companies interested in being founding members to e-mail him at jaap.ketel@briskevents.nl.

Brisk Events website
Railway Interiors Expo

Political 'foes' join forces for maglev (05/26/09)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Former Nevada governors, Republican Kenny Guinn and Democrat Bob Miller, have joined forces to promote maglev. Guinn and Miller respond to the criticism leveled at President Barack Obama's stimulus money for high speed rail. In an editorial in the Las Vegas Sun, they say, "if the administration wants to make a lasting contribution to our transportation system, it needs to invest in next-generation technologies such as the magnetic levitation (maglev) system built in Shanghai and operating with a 99.98 percent on-time performance, having traveled 3.5 million miles and carried 18 million passengers; systems that are both sustainable and renew the American people’s enthusiasm for rail travel." Regarding technology choices to be made America's high speed rail future, the governors state, "Surprisingly, despite the nation’s increased focus on environmentally responsible and highly efficient automobiles, there is no agreed-upon technology for modernizing U.S. railways. It is time we agreed that maglev technology, frequently overlooked, ought to be part of that standard." Laurence E. Blow, founder and president of MaglevTransport Inc., called the editorial "one of the most coherent and concise endorsements of maglev technology I can recall."

Former governors press for maglev. Las Vegas Sun, 05/24/09.
MaglevTransport Inc. website

Oakland - $552 million for three miles? (05/17/09)
Oakland, California. The Bay Area Rapid Transit Board has approved to move ahead with a peoplemover connector system from Coliseum Station and Oakland Airport. The 3.2-mile project has been discussed for 30 years and had numerous starts and stops. With the infusion of $70 million in federal stimulus funds, BART is trying again. BART is estimating the cost of the system to be over a half billion dollars. Yes, that's what you read, they estimate $552 million for a tad over 3 miles with only two or three stations. Can anyone think of a more economic system that is just as capable? We're guessing those estimates to be based on massive guideway AGT (automated guideway transit), such as the one that exists across the bay at San Francisco International Airport. Monorail may have a chance! If monorail manufacturers come up with a proposal below the estimated costs and yet still as capable as the specifications call for, monorail could still win the day. The Monorail Society President, Kim Pedersen, said, "This project is in my backyard, and I know the alignment well. The alignment is excellent for monorail, and I hope qualified monorail manufacturers step up and state their case...soon!"

Oakland Airport Connector. Project description on official BART website.
BART seeks industry input from contractors. Official BART website, 04/07/09.

Is BART more interested in a 'massive cement pork project' AGT...

or perhaps a 'green,' more aesthetic and economic solution?

1st photo - San Francisco International AGT
2nd photo - Kuala Lumpur Monorail

Four bidders for Riyadh Monorail (05/17/09)
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The monorail project for Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University for Women in Riyadh has four bidders. The bidders are Saudi Oger (with Canada's Bombardier); Saudi Binladin Group (with Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation); the local El-Seif Engineering & Contracting (with Germany's Siemens) and the local Al-Arrab Contracting Company (with Malaysia's Scomi Engineering). Another group, Saudi Freyssinet (with Italy's Ansaldo), also pre-qualified. One source involved with the bidding indicated that the prices submitted by the four bidders are very close and there is no clear front runner. The monorail project includes an 11-km system linking facilities at the university. The project is expected to take three years to complete.

1st Monorailex 2009 report (05/13/09)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The world's first monorail conference was held this weekend in Dubai. Produced by Brisk Events of the Netherlands and supported by The Monorail Society (TMS), a diverse group of attendees attended Monorailex. Presentations were made by a variety of speakers, several of whom are promoting monorail in their own cities. The Monorail Society was represented by Brian C. Brooks, TMS Technology Evaluation Officer, who gave two talks during the event. Brian also accepted an award on behalf of TMS from Jaap Ketel, head of Brisk Events and organizer of the conference, honoring TMS for its first twenty years. TMS members can read Brian's first report on the event via the link below...

Monorailex 2009, First Report. Brian C. Brooks, 5/12/09.
(available exclusively to TMS members)

Palm Monorail open! (05/05/09)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Palm Monorail is open for business, becoming the first monorail in the Middle East! The 5.45 kilometer system can carry 2,400 passengers per hour with its four Hitachi-built trains. Palm Jumeirah developer Nakheel has plans to eventually connect the southern end of the line to a multi-modal station where riders can transfer to the new Dubai Metro light rail system. A round trip on the monorail costs Dh25, or Dh15 for a one-way journey. One of the first riders, James Swale of Australia, stated, "The monorail is so smooth and the views are just what I thought Dubai would look like with all of the water, palms and beaches." The news is welcome for attendees of Monorailex 2009, which takes place in Dubai this coming weekend. Monorail Society Technology Evaluation Officer Brian C. Brooks will make two presentations at the event.

Dubai monorail: Round trip to cost Dh25. Xpress, 05/05/09.
Dubai Palm Monorail officially open. Maktoob, 05/05/09.

Sarkozy's future Paris includes monorail (04/29/09)
Paris, France. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has unveiled his vision for the future of Paris. Concepts for the future look of the metropolis are on display at an exhibition developed by 10 architects. An elevated rail system, referred to and pictured as monorail by the press, will be the flagship of his project. The new 130 kilometer system will link the metro areas of the city with satellite towns, if built. Sarkozy wants Paris to be an environmentally sustainable, green city. Will Parisians accept any form of elevated rail through their historic city? We shall see, Sarkozy wants the project to be completed within ten years.

Sarkozy unveils grand plan for Paris. Financial Times, 04/29/09.

Niagara Falls Monorail project dies (04/21/09)
Niagara Falls, Canada. The plan for a monorail system on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls goes back to the early days of The Monorail Society. We've reported on its progress and non-progress over the years. The project has been burdened with financial, technology and partnership challenges for years. On Monday the city council decided to abandon the decades-old plan and rely upon buses. $25 million in Federal money has been on the shelf for the monorail, but will now be used elsewhere.

Monorail dream is dead. Niagara Falls Review, 04/21/09.

courtesy of IBI Group

More evidence Makkah project is monorail (04/20/09)
Makkah, Saudi Arabia. There is growing evidence that the Makkah Monorail project will actually turn out to be monorail technology. To date, no suppliers have been selected, but the project continues to be referred to as monorail. IBI Group of Canada developed the plan for transportation improvements in the Jeddah-Makkah area, and a recently-released video clearly shows monorail as the rail transit system (link below). As history has shown, technology can still be switched after this point in the planning process, but monorailists are still hopeful that Saudi Arabia might be on the way to developing one of the most extensive, high-profile monorail systems in the world.

Monorail to link Jeddah districts. Arab News, 04/15/09.
IBI Group video of Jeddah-Makkah transportation projects

Sydney Monorail forced to remove pylon ads (04/08/09)
Sydney, Australia. The operator of the Sydney Monorail may be forced to increase fares as a result of a dispute with the City of Sydney Council. The council took Metro Transport Sydney to the Land and Environment Court after advertising appeared on 17 of its 57 track pylons. Metro Transport told the court that the advertising was an essential part of its revenue and "without it they would be forced to implement large fare increases." The court found that the company is required to apply for development consent for the advertisements. The monorail has been controversial since it opened in 1988, hated by some locals as an eyesore, yet used a great deal by tourists and other commuters.

Monorail tickets may rise as company loses fight. Sydney Morning Herald, 04/08/09.
Fears grow over Monorail fare rises. Daily Telegraph, 04/09/09. (Article asks for online comments!)

Palm Monorail opening delayed (04/01/09)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The picturesque Palm Monorail was slated to open today, but a spokesperson for Nakheel Properties says it won't open until later this year. "We are currently working with all providers to ensure amenities and facilities related to Palm Monorail are completed in line with the opening of the monorail, which is scheduled for later this year," he said. "Nakheel is pleased to announce Palm Monorail has completed live testing on schedule and will shortly receive its operating certificate from the RTA." Nakheel Properties is the real estate developer of Palm Island. Test runs of two Hitachi-built trains have been under way since October 20, 2008. The 5.4 kilometer system is the first monorail system in the Middle East.

Palm Monorail later this year. Business 24/7, 04/01/09.

Fire in Jacksonville station (03/13/09)
Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville's Skyway Monorail was shut down due to a fire in Riverplace Station on Wednesday night. Witnesses saw a fireball shoot up from the roof of the station and a fiberglass awning was engulfed in the fire. Firefighters had the fire out in about ten minutes. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Service has been restored to the monorail in all stations except Riverplace.

Skyway Station Fire Shuts Southbank Service. MSNBC, 3/13/09.
Jacksonville Skyway fire photos. Skyscraper City, 3/12/09.

Will maglev monorail benefit from Stimulus Bill?

USA High Speed Rail 'stimulated,' but where? (02/14/09)
Washington, D.C. Whether you believe President Barack Obama's economic recovery bill is 'stimulus' or 'porkulus,' a clear winner of a sizeable chunk of the money will be high speed rail (HSR). Marked up from $1-2 billion overnight to $8 billion, the high speed rail provision does not indicate which projects stand to win portions of the money, or how much. Opponents to the bill are quick to cite Senator Harry Reid's desire for the construction of a maglev line from Las Vegas, Nevada to Anaheim, California. Reid played a key role in writing the bill. Still, the money has not been earmarked for any particular project at this point, and there are many HSR projects in the USA hoping to get a piece of the pie. There are several conventional steel rail projects on the drawing board, as well as maglev monorail hopefuls. The Department of Transportation will decide where the money is allocated.

Republicans cry foul over $8 billion for high-speed-rail. Los Angeles Times, 02/14/09.
High speed rails in Southern California closer to reality with stimulus. Press-Enterprise, 02/13/09.
Conference Boosts Funding for High-Speed Rail. Mass Transit Magazine, 02/13/09.

Press reporting 'monorail' deal for Makkah (02/11/09)
Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Since we've had false announcements of deals for Makkah Monorail before, we're treating this with kid gloves. The press is widely reporting that the project was announced at state dinner on Tuesday hosted by Saudi King Abdullah. A deal has been signed with China Railway Corporation for the development of the transit system. The reports are mixed in with the news that China will also build a 444-km high speed rail system (HSR). There is some question as to whether the HSR project and the formerly discussed local monorail system are being confused in these reports. Stay tuned.

Mecca monorail deal marks Saudi visit by China's Hu. AFP, 02/11/09.
China firm wins Makkah monorail deal. TradeArabia, 02/11/09.

02/12/09: some reports are making a distinction between the Makkah Monorail and the HSR project. The monorail deal may be for real.

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