News Brief Archives

News Briefs Archives
March 22 - August 2, 2006

Penang project gets government nod (8/2/06)
Penang, Malaysia. The proposed monorail project for Penang received a major boost Wednesday by getting a green light from Malaysia's Cabinet. Eligible companies are to be invited to submit proposals for implementation, which is planned to be developed under what is called the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) of the Ninth Malaysia Plan. Financial risks associated with the project would be taken on by the private sector, while the government would be involved with complex infrastructure planning. Several monorail manufacturers are said to have expressed an interest in the Penang Monorail.

Cabinet nod for Penang Monorail & Second Penang Bridge. Bernama.com, 8/2/06.

Seattle Alwegs still not ready (7/18/06)
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Center Monorail is back. We'll, they thought they were. While it had been announced that the line would run again starting today, a last minute technical glitch has delayed the re-opening. Problems were found with the pneumatic systems on the brakes and door mechanisms. Almost eight months ago both trains were severely damaged when they side-swiped one another near Westlake Station. That type of incident is less likely now with the addition of a automatic stopping system. The repairs cost an estimated $3 million to $4 million dollars. The mile-long line was scheduled to open in August, but workers did a lot of overtime and Saturday shifts to get the system ready quicker. Officials hope to re-start within a few days.

Seattle Monorail remains grounded. Seattle P-I, 7/18/06.

Disney fans produce monorail DVDs (7/8/06)
Irvine, California. The Extinct Attractions Club (TEAC), an organization dedicated to preserving the memory of rides and attractions, has released a set of DVDs devoted to Walt Disney's monorails. One of those DVDs is a ninety-minute production entitled The Monorail Story. In what is perhaps the best documentation to date of the history of Disney monorails, the DVD prominently features legendary Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr telling a detailed story of how monorails became synonymous with American Disney Resorts (and one in Japan). Gurr tells amusing tales of the challenging days of the Mark I development along with his funny experiences during the monorail debut on June 14, 1959. Other Disney fans offer their insight into the Disney monorail phenomenon and their theories as to why they both helped and unintentionally hurt efforts for monorail from becoming the trains of the future in the USA. Other TEAC DVDs feature Disney footage from the early years of the monorail, on board footage of various Disney monorails, details of the highly-prized Shuco monorails, and even a visit to The Monorail Society with a peek at some of the collectibles in the TMS archives. Besides producing historical DVDs and sharing experiences of past theme park favorites, the Extinct Attractions Club does extensive charity work for youth at risk and families down on their luck that live around the Disneyland area. Our thanks to David Oneal, the founder of The Extinct Attractions Club, for doing such an extensive job of documenting this important part of monorail history. Dave also edited in numerous positive plugs for monorail as transit, just as Walt Disney had originally envisioned for monorails.

Extinct Attractions Club website (includes free podcast about monorail DVDs)
Extinct Attractions Club Monorail DVDs page

Jaipur: no to metro, yes to monorail (7/4/06)
Jaipur, India. Another Indian city is leaning towards monorail for their future transit needs. Earlier efforts to develop a metro rail system in the city of Jaipur were halted as a result of feasibility studies. Monorail has now been proposed and The Rajasthan Urban Infrastructure Development Project Department (RUIDP) is preparing a detailed report on how it could be implemented. The report is due to be completed by the end of July. If the monorail is found to be feasible, the project will move forward. The proposed route is from the Jaipur rail station to Ajmeir Gate and onward to the airport. Jaipur is the latest in a string of Indian cities to look seriously at monorail, yet no project has gotten to a construction phase yet.

Jaipur plans monorail. Daily India, 7/4/06.

Blue rolls again (06/30/06)
Seattle, Washington. August 1st has been set as the return to service date for the Seattle Center Monorail. The system has been closed since a two-train sideswipe accident in November where the two tracks pinch together at the Westlake Center station. Since then, an estimated $3-4 million has been spent on repairing the damaged trains, adding an automated stopping system and repainting columns. On Thursday the Blue Train was rolling on the beamway as part of the testing that will continue until the reopening.

Monorail's two trains to undergo test runs.

Kuala Lumpur: 40 million riders (06/29/06)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After less than three years of operation, the Kuala Lumpur Monorail is celebrating its 40 millionth passenger this week. KL Monorail Managing Director Bakhtiar Jamilee Abdul said, "It is an achievement because in less then three years of operation, KL Monorail has achieved its target." Datuk Zulhasnan Rafique, Malaysia's Minister of Federatl Territory, will be present for a special ceremony on Friday in honor of the event. The 40 millionth passenger will receive special recognition and a gift.

KL Monorail Exceeds Initial Target After Three Years Of Operation. Bernama, 6/29/06.
TMS Kuala Lumpur Photo Essay

Moscow-style monorail proposed for Penang (06/22/06)
Penang, Malaysia. An advanced Russian-modified, Intamin-based monorail system is being proposed for the City of Penang. Melewar Industrial Group Bhd has submitted a RM 1.6 billion bid to construct a 52 km system for Penang. The three-line monorail would be built on a build-and-operate basis, using technology adapted from the Moscow Monorail. The Moscow Monorail is based on Swiss-based Intamin technology, but was highly modified for the harsh Russian winters. The Moscow Monorail is also the first monorail in the world to use linear motor propulsion. The proposal is reportedly to be half the price of other monorail systems, which run around RM 60 million per km in Malaysia. Melawar also claims that construction can be much quicker because the beams are steel box beams, rather than concrete. If built, the system will have over 40 stations and would have train departures every four minutes at peak periods. Metrail is also reportedly bidding for the Penang contract.

Melewar unveils RM1.6b Penang monorail plan. The Edge Daily, 6/22/06.
MTrans likely to bid as well:
Scomie To Submit Final Proposal For Monorail Project Within Weeks. Bernama, 6/26/06.

photo by Andy Andersen

L.A. Fairplex cars bake in Chinese sunshine (06/19/06)
San Dimas, California. Ever wonder what happened to the suspended monorail cars that once ran at the Los Angeles County Fairplex? We did too, and thanks to new TMS member, Matt Sellers, we now know where they are. The 40-passenger cars replaced the original L.A. Fairplex monorail cars in 1990, but only ran for a couple of years. The track began to crack as a result of being overstressed with the vehicles, which were larger and heavier than the originals. The entire system was removed from the Fairgrounds as a result. Similar problems were experienced by the short-lived, suspended Arrow Monorail between Excalibur and Luxor Resorts in Las Vegas, Nevada. That monorail was also dismantled in the 1990s. In a deal brokered by Ride & Show Engineering, Inc. of San Dimas, California, all ten of the L.A. County Fairplex monorail cars moved to China. They were going to be part of park called Holland Park (EuroAsia). The park’s engineers were to refurbish the cars and adapt them to a Chinese power and control system. They were also designing a stronger track system for the cars. The owner of the park, Yang Bin, a naturalized Dutch businessman, unfortunately experienced some serious legal problems in China and to date the park has not been completed. As of last year, the cars were partially exposed with some of the doors left open, and some of the local animal population has taken advantage of this free shelter opportunity. Prospects for the vehicles ever being used again currently don’t look very good.

Barely used Arrow-built monorail cars going to waste.
(photo courtesy of Ride & Show Engineering)

Seattle Alweg panels donated to TMS (06/18/06)
Fremont, California. Paraphrasing a well-known saying, "one monorail's junk can be a monorailist's gold mine!" The operators of the Seattle Center Monorail have graciously donated two lower side panels from the Seattle Alweg monorail trains to The Monorail Society (TMS). The trains were damaged last year in a side swipe accident that took the system out of operation. Miraculously, there were no injuries in the accident. Developers of the Westlake Center designed the pinch together track to allow one-side loading on the side of the building. The trains are currently undergoing extensive repair. No date for a return to service has been given at this point. Responding to a wish/request by TMS President Kim Pedersen, Seattle Monorail Services Manager Glenn Barney set aside one panel from each train and recently shipped them to TMS headquarters in Fremont, California. Both art deco-like panels were built by the Alweg Company for the 1962 Seattle's Century 21 World's Fair monorail. Pedersen hopes that one day they can be part of a Monorail Museum, a proposal he made several years ago when it seemed Seattle would get a larger monorail system. The Monorail Museum is still a goal, although a location and source of funding for the project are yet to be found. Pedersen said "These panels are historic in two respects. They are wonderful artifacts from the two surviving Alweg-built monorail trains left in the world, and they are a testament to what a dumb idea it was to pinch those tracks together." The Monorail Society sincerely thanks Glenn Barney and Seattle Monorail Services for the donation. We hope your monorail is up and running again soon!

TMS President Kim Pedersen with Alweg monorail side panels.
(photo by Carol Pedersen)

Las Vegas revenues and ridership up (06/04/06)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas Monorail revenues rose nearly 16 percent from one year ago, according to April 2006 statistics. Revenue hit $3,250,565 in April, up from $2,806,650 a year ago and $2,934,618 just a month before in March 2006. Likewise, ridership increased again, from 563,823 riders in January to 704,527 in April. “We’re seeing excellent revenue growth so far this year,” said Las Vegas Monorail Company President and CEO, Curtis Myles III. “The real comparison we are making, however, is the year over year figures, simply due to the seasonality of the Las Vegas tourism market. We expected April to be one of the higher revenue months in the first two quarters.” New ticket distribution and marketing efforts are under way to continue the trend, including the development of a ticket brokerage program that provides conventioneers with monorail tickets in advance and a proactive national public relations program. Another boost to the monorail has been the recent opening of General Motors The Drive Automotive Performance Park, a consumer test-track next to the Sahara Hotel station.

Shanghai-Hangzhou Maglev progress (05/25/06)
Shanghai, China. Berlin and Beijing have agreed on technology and other issues Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev line. The $5.5 billion dollar project has been widely reported on as “approved” in the Chinese press, but until recently there has been no mention of which maglev technology would be used. The confirmation that Transrapid will be involved indicates that the system will likely be an extension of the existing Shanghai-Pudong Airport maglev, which opened in 2004. The news comes as German Chancellor Angela Merkel finished up her visit to China with a ride on that line. The Chinese Xinhua News Agency said Germany's Siemens AG will "transfer technology'' for power supply and control systems for the new line, while ThyssenKrupp AG provides technology for making the cars, railroad switches and other parts. The lengthening of the line will allow higher speeds of up to 450 kph, and become the world’s first inter-city demonstration line of high-speed maglev. The Shanghai-Hangzhou extension will be approximately 170 kilometers long and the journey will take about thirty minutes. 2010 is the targeted opening date, which is the year of the Expo 2010 Shanghai World’s Fair.

China, Germany agree on technology transfer for new maglev train. The Star, 5/23/06.
Germans seek role in Chinese rail project. NY Times, 5/23/06.

Bangalore project receives approval (05/22/06)
Bangalore, India. According to the Times of India, the first segment of a citywide monorail system has been approved for Bangalore. Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy gave the approval and work is scheduled to begin on August 15. Kumaraswamy said "Monorail work will commence on August 15 and the project will be executed in 15 months. The first 18-km will be taken up on a pilot basis." Eventually the monorail will be extended to be 95-kilometers. The system is being built on a build-own-operate-transfer basis by Metrail. Metrail has a test track in Malaysia, which is featured in the TMS DVD Monorails of Malaysia.

HDK gives nod to Monorail. Times of India, 5/14/06.

Chennai election ends hope for monorail (05/11/06)
Chennai, India. Back in January we reported on the City of Chennai government announcing that monorail was selected for a city-wide transit system. The proposal was for a staggering 300-kilometer system, which would have made it, by far, the longest monorail system in the world. The opposition political party criticized the proposal, both for its scope as well as choice of technology (monorails=amusement ride, etc.). This week the monorail-opposing DMK-led alliance captured power in an election. The monorail-backing AIADMK fared badly in the polls, which in all likelihood ends hopes for the monorail system in the foreseeable future.

Huge expansion plans for KL (04/14/06)
Kuala Lumpur. The spectacular Kuala Lumpur Monorail may be joined by another four lines of monorail if KL Infra Group (KLIG) and MTrans Technology Bhd have their way. They are proposing a staggering 71 kilometers of additional monorail track, consisting of four lines criss-crossing Kuala Lumpur. The extension plan would be built over a six year period. KLIG chairman Datuk Ahmad Sa'adi said a conceptual proposal was submitted to the government about two months ago. The current 9km Kuala Lumpur Monorail has carried 33 million passengers in its two and a half year history. If built, the additional four lines are predicted to carry 400,000 passengers each day. It could also make Kuala Lumpur the city with the world's longest and most extensive monorail system.

KL Infra's RM 4.5b plan to get Klang Valley moving. Business Times, 4/15/06.

map courtesy of KLIG/MTrans Technology Bhd

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Follow the water: major L.A. County proposal (04/13/06)
Los Angeles, CA. Brian C. Brooks, a forty-year county employee and a member of The Monorail Society (TMS), has submitted a formal proposal for an extensive monorail system aligned along the major flood control channels within Los Angeles County. The channels have open areas on each side that are “The Semi-Hidden Highways” and the “Hidden Treasure of Los Angeles County,” They have perfect, generally straight alignments with gradual curves, and they run all over the county, from the residential areas to the industrial and commercial areas. The grade changes at road crossings (which prohibit surface rail) are easily handled by varying the height of the supporting pylons. These fenced-in areas provide perfect out-of-traffic construction sites and the rights of way have long since been acquired. Brooks says the county’s proprietorship eliminates the alignment, survey and acquisition phases of the project and reduces the construction time to months rather than years, all at a small fraction of the cost per mile of the proposed 13-mile long, $5 Billion dollar subway extension now being considered from the Red Line Wilshire/Western terminus to Santa Monica. Los Angeles County Mayor Michael D. Antonovich has requested that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works take the initial step of preparing a feasibility study to investigate the use of these rights of way for an elevated transit system. If the report comes back with a positive assessment, Mayor Antonovich will request a further study into the implementation of a monorail network along County Flood Control channel bank rights of way by Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Mayor Antonovich, a supporter of monorail technology for years, has hailed the proposal as an “innovative and cost-effective idea that comes at a time when transportation resources are scarce and our taxpayer dollars are at risk of being spent on a $350 million per mile subway extension.” If this proposal is ultimately adopted, the County may realize further cost and time savings by performing some of the engineering work “in-house.” The results of any proposed contract may require the successful bidder to manufacture the monorail rolling stock within Los Angeles County, thereby creating many jobs for county residents while “going global.” Brooks points out that the County’s taxpayers will have comfortable, convenient, and quiet public transport that does not interfere with traffic and does not require horns, bells, or whistles at street crossings. Brooks stated, "this will be done over a much greater area and at less cost than any other potential public transit system currently proposed by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority."

Monorail planning continues in Penang (04/09/06)
Penang, Malaysia. Routes are being finalized for the proposed monorail system on Penang Island. The system will link the city of Penang with Bayan Lepas and Tanjung Tokong. According to Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan, the State Local Government and Traffic Committee Chairman, "The first hurdle involving funding has been overcome. The next step is implementation." The government is currently studying two proposals to build the project. Penang Island is 293 square kilometers located in the Straits of Malacca. It has the highest population density in Malaysia with 2,031.74 people per square kilometer.

Monorail routes yet to be finalised. The Star, 04/05/06.

Sky Train works towards test track (04/03/06)
Tampa, Florida. Monorail may be coming to the Tampa Bay area after all. While it won't be a county-wide system, which was recently shot down by the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) wants a suspended monorail as a new science exhibit. MOSI is working with Sky Train Corp. to built a prototype of the SAFEGE-like monorail system. The monorail would not only be an interactive science exhibit, but would service as a transportation system transporting visitors around the 70-acre MOSI complex. The $2 million first phase would garner 1.2 kilometers of guideway.

Transit tab: MOSI monorail plan seeks millions. Tampa Bay Business Journal, 3/31/06.
Mass transportation in the Bay area? Bay News 9, 4/1/06.
Sky Train Corporation website

LA proposal for Wilshire Blvd. (04/3/06)
Los Angeles, California. TMS member Robert L. Rosebrock has gotten considerable attention recently for a monorail proposal he is touting. He has written an editorial for several regional news publications in the LA area suggesting monorail is a better choice than more expensive tunnel-digging for limited subway service. KTLA-TV picked up on his proposal and did a brief story, which showed illustrations of what the monorail could look like on Wilshire Blvd. Wilshire Blvd. has gotten much attention recently as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has come out in favor of extending the subway system. As Rosebrock says in his editorial, it's "Time to Elevate Our Thinking."

Wilshire Monorail website

Tunica rail study approved (03/28/06)
Jackson, Mississippi. Up to $500,000 has been approved for a monorail feasibility study for the Tunica area. Officials are looking to link Tunica, DeSoto and Shelby Counties with an elevated rail system. The proposed line could include stations at Tunica’s nine casinos, Tunica Airport, Memphis International Airport and connect with the proposed Memphis light rail system. The earmark was inserted a state transportation bill by Representative John Mayo, D-Clarksdale. Mayo got the idea when he saw money being set aside for a similar study for monorail on the Gulf Coast as part of post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts.

Funds OK'd for monorail study. Commercial Appeal, 3/28/06.

Money for Jakarta (03/22/06)
Jakarta, Indonesia. According to the Jakarta Post, it is now “full steam ahead for the monorail project following confirmation of financing from a consortium of Dubai banks.” Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso has announced that a $500 million loan has been secured to fund the project. Sutiyoso is just back from Dubai where he received confirmation from banks of financing for Jakarta’s monorail system. Contracts have been signed by the monorail developer and state-owned PT Adhi Karya for civil work, PT Bukaka Trans System for rolling stocks, MTRC Hong Kong for project management and services integration and Mac Donald for independent engineers. When completed, the monorail will include two lines. One 14.3 km line will serve the business districts of the city. The second line will be 13.5 km and will run from Kampung Melayu to Mal Taman Anggrek.

Loan gets monorail off the ground. Jakarta Post, 3/22/06.

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