News Brief Archives

News Briefs Archives
March 28 - August 27, 2007.

Ho Chi Minh City study completed (8/27/07)
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Berjaya Corporation of Malaysia has completed a preliminary feasibility study for monorail construction in Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam. The report was submitted to City officials. The study found that there would be some challenges building the monorail due to the city's existing road and drainage systems, but that a monorail system is urgently needed to solve chronic traffic congestion in the city. The proposed two-alignment system would include over 32 kilometers of track.

BCorp completes initial study on Vietnam monorail project. The Edge Daily, 8/27/07.

Wasaga Beach, Ontario proposal (8/15/07)
Wasaga Beach, Canada. Developers Armand and Don Levy have grand plans for the popular Wasaga Beach region of Ontario, Canada. They have a 350 million Canadian dollar proposal for a boardwalk, seven new hotel towers, an amphitheatre, convention center, a retail center, themed restaurants, water park, indoor surf park and indoor snowboarding park. The Levys are also suggesting a 3-kilometer monorail will be part of the development. The monorail would connect the beachfront development with an 8,000 car parking lot. The project would be phased in over a five-year period. Wasaga Beach is touted as being the longest freshwater beach in the world.

Major development for Wasaga Beach. Bayshore Broadcasting Corp., 8/14/07.
Developers plan huge waterfront development for Wasaga Beach. Daily Commercial News, 8/16/07.

Government halts Johannesburg plan (8/8/07)
Johannesburg, South Africa. The controversial plan for a hybrid monorail between Johannesburg and Soweto has come to a grinding halt. The South African Cabinet didn't like the plan from the beginning, citing a lack of consultation with key stakeholders, including the SA Rail Commuter Corporation, the taxi industry, the City of Johannesburg and the minister of transport. Government spokesman Themba Maseko stated "Because of these considerations, Cabinet decided that the Soweto Monorail Project will not proceed at this stage. The Gauteng provincial government has been advised accordingly." As we have seen before, if you don't get all the right "egos" lined up before you announce, chances for a monorail plan are slim.

Cabinet pulls plug on monorail. The Citizen, 8/08/07.

Destiny USA sticks with monorail plan (7/29/07)
Syracuse, New York. Plans for a proposed retail and entertainment complex in Syracuse still include a monorail system. The proposal has been fraught with years of delays and controversy since it was made public ten years ago. Currently all that exists on the site is a super-mall known as Carousel Center. Plans include an aquarium, golf courses, a performing arts center, a stadium and water park. Developer Robert Congel intends to eliminate parking altogether and "to have customers transported to Carousel Center by monorail." The monorail would connect Syracuse Hancock International Airport with Syracuse University, the William F. Walsh Regional Transportation Center, the entertainment complex and downtown. Earlier this year developers sold $322 million worth of bonds, securing the funds needed for the Destiny USA project to continue.

Destiny developer hangs on to monorail transportation plan. The Post-Standard, 7/28/07.
Destiny USA website
Destiny USA Wikipedia page

Transrapid display at Munich International Airport

Germany's "Alweg moment" for Transrapid (7/26/07)
Munich, Germany. Many monorailists know the story; Alweg monorail technology was turned down for Cologne and Hamburg about a half century ago, in the very country where the straddle-monorail system was developed. The effect of those decisions was to essentially tell the world that "Alweg isn't good for our cities, even though we invented it." Efforts by Alweg to sell the technology internationally were seriously hampered by this lack of confidence on home turf. Now Transrapid maglev monorail technology is approaching one of those important moments as well. The German government is reportedly close to making a final decision on a proposed downtown Munich to Munich International Airport Transrapid line. The alignment is 40 kilometers long and would reduce travel time from 40 minutes to only 10 minutes. Financing is the major hurdle, and part of the reason a previously proposed Berlin-Hamburg line was cancelled. Will Germany repeat history and hamper new technology, or will it give a stamp of approval and build? We should know soon.

Germany to decide on 1.85 bln eur Munich Transrapid project in August. CNN, 7/26/07.
Transrapid Train Could Get Green Light in Munich. Deutsche Welle, 7/26/07

Brighton Monorail back in play (7/23/07)
Brighton, England. A shift in political power has revived the possibility of a monorail for Brighton. Newly elected Conservative councillors are interested in seeing a proposed system built from the marina to the Palace Pier and then on to Brighton Centre by 2009. Also supporting the idea is James Brathwaite, chairman of South East England Development Agency (SEEDA). SEEDA believes the monorail is key to unlocking a huge development potential along the aging Shoreham port. Development was dropped in 2005 when Labour councillors and developers disagreed over plans. Those councillors ended up going with a bus network instead. It's not known what technology the monorail will use, but Metrail was involved in the prior proposal. The system was proposed as a ground level monorail. The first two-kilometer phase between Brighton Marina and Brighton Centre is estimated to cost around £20 million.

Monorail link to marina to harbour. The Argus, 7/23/07.
South East England Development Agency

Gloomy 'CC' rating for Las Vegas Monorail (7/10/07)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Sunny skies over the desert aren't keeping dark clouds from continuing to accumulate over the Las Vegas Monorail. Fitch Ratings has downgraded the underlying rating on the $451.4 million in outstanding Director of the State of Nevada Department of Business and Industry Las Vegas Monorail project revenue bonds, 1st tier, series 2000 from 'CCC' to 'CC.' Fitch notes that monorail demand is weaker than expected, in part due to the continued lack of aggressive marketing partnerships with the casinos, as well as competition with buses and taxis operating along the Strip. Several fare adjustments have been made in the last couple of years to attempt to bring ridership up. A 'CC' rating means that default of some kind appears probable. The rating comes as monorail management tries to obtain financing for a desperately-needed extension to McCarran International Airport.

Fitch Downgrades Las Vegas Monorail, Nevada, to 'CC'; Outlook Negative. Business Wire, 7/10/074.
Financial analysis grim for Las Vegas Monorail. Las Vegas Sun, 7/11/07.

MTrans/Scomi bids far and wide (6/28/07)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Scomi Engineering Bhd, along its newly acquired subsidiary MTrans, want to spread their monorail technology far beyond the Malaysian border. They have submitted bids worth billions of ringgit for projects in Vietnam, Madinah and Iran. Another bid has been placed in Malaysia for Penang as well. Scomi Vice President Hilmy Zaini Zainal told reporters "Basically these are the projects that we are actually waiting for quite a while. But we are ready to implement the projects." MTrans developed Kuala Lumpur's monorail system using Seattle Monorail's Alweg technology as a base. A prototype second generation monorail train is expected to be completed in July that features enhanced performance, a new composite body and will be lighter as well as cheaper. Zainal stated that billions of ringgit were spent on the development of the new train. Scomi will build two new monorail manufacturing plants to keep up with the increasing demand for monorail in Asia and the Middle East.

Scomi Engineering Bids For Monorail Projects Worth Billions. Bernama.com, 6/21/07.
Scomi Engineering bids for RM6b worth of monorail projects. TheStar.com, 6/21/07.

New Zealand monorail one step closer (6/16/07)
Queenstown, New Zealand. Backers of the proposed Milford Link Monorail received an important boost recently when the project received "requiring authority." The approval could remove significant hurdles in implementing the project and perhaps fast-track it. The monorail would be part of a multi-modal transportation link between Queenstown to the spectacular tourist destination, Milford Sound. A catamaran would first take travelers from Queenstown to Mt. Nicholas Station, where they would be transported by road to the Von Valley. There is where they would board a 41-kilometer single-tracked monorail line to Te Anau-Milford Road. Another coach ride would then finish up the trip to Milford Sound. Other proposals for transportation to the area are competing with the monorail/catamaran/coach link proposal.

Monorail backers granted requiring authority status. The Southland Times, 6/15/07.

New low ticket price for Las Vegas (6/11/07)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas Monorail is now offering a dramatically lower one-day pass price of only $8. This is over 45% lower than the normal one-day pass price of $15. Called the Summer Special, the $8 price is the latest effort in price experimentions to improve ridership. The passes are good for a 24-hour period, which begins with the first use at the gate. Tickets can be purchased at any one of the seven stations from the Sahara to MGM Resorts. Monorail officials hope that more riders will take advantage of the system as a result, which connects major destinations along a 4-mile corridor on the east side of the Strip. At less than the price of a single short cab ride in traffic, monorail riders will have speedy transportation either all day and into the eve, or for an evening plus the following day. Quite a deal!

Las Vegas Monorail website


Hope fades for Jakarta (6/8/07)
Jakarta, Indonesia. Hope is fading for the realization of the Jakarta Monorail project. Its chief proponent, Governor Sutiyoso, will leave office in October and his dream of two monorail lines totalling 27.8 kilometers in length will most likely not be realized. Financing was never obtained to build the project. The Dubai Islamic Bank expressed interest but did not invest because of the absence of a law on Islamic bonds in Indonesia. The bank also wanted guarantees from the government to cover shortfalls if the monorail didn't achieve its target of 160,000 passengers per day. Sutiyoso lobbied the central government to issue a bank guarantee to assure investors. PT Jakarta Monorail also ruffled feathers by demanding the Jakarta administration introduce several policies to encourage people to use the monorail, including electronic road pricing and a government subsidies to allow cheaper ticket prices. Sutiyoso isn't giving up however, he will continue to try to get the project rolling again before the end of his term this year.

Will monorail slip through governor's grasp? The Jakarta Post, 6/8/07.


Radiation hysteria reportedly halts maglev project (5/27/07)
Shanghai, China. According to media sources in China, the proposed maglev project between Shanghai and Hangzhou has been suspended. One official with the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress said that a major reason for the project halt was residents along the route being concerned about radiation produced by the maglev system. Approved by the central government in 2006, the 175 km line was expected to have operational speeds in excess of 450 kph. Petitioners evidently succeeded in convincing the government to stop the project, although it is still under study. Maglev expert Larry Blow, of MaglevTransport, Inc., commented on the Urban Maglev discussion group that "There are no electromagnetic field-related health problems with Transrapid." Blow speculates that "This hysteria is most likely being fed by rumors at the local level."

Shanghai maglev project suspended amid radiation concerns. Chinaview.com, 5/26/07.

Shanghai backtracks on reports of project suspension. Forbes.com, 5/29/07. As we have seen before, what comes out of the Chinese press is full of contradictions. The project is evidently not as dead as initial reports indicate.

Kuala Lumpur Monorail


MTrans to reveal new design (5/19/07)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Scomi Engineering Bhd's (SEB) special vehicles division will be unveiling a new monorail design within a few months, according to an article in The Star. MTrans Transportations Systems, designer and builder of the Kuala Lumpur Monorail, is said to have come up with a new monorail that features higher capacity at a lower cost. SEB is in the process of acquiring MTrans, and a name change is also in store for the company. Scomi plans to market the new design in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Talks are under way on numerous fronts to export the monorails. MTrans has been under criticism recently for financial troubles in Malaysia. Bank Pembangunan has been pressuring KL Monorail System to pay interest payments that are past due and has taken control of the system. The monorail company's failure to pay could pave the way for the concession to be transferred to another operator. MTrans maintains that the company helped Malaysia save RM 230 million in capital outflow when it took over the KL Monorail project from Hitachi in the 1990s, as well as putting the country in the league of world monorail manufacturers. The company hopes to strike a deal with the government to regain control of the Kuala Lumpur Monorail.

MTrans to unveil new monorail design. The Star, 5/19/07.
MTrans: Monorail project helped save capital outflow. The Star, 5/16/07
Bank takes control of KL monorail. Business Times, 5/15/07.


Hybrid for Johannesburg-Soweto? (5/15/07)
Johannesburg, South Africa. According to Creamer Media's Engineering News, a deal is about to be signed for a Malaysian hybrid monorail system between Johannesburg and Soweto. Expected to carry as much as 1.5-million passengers per day, the monorail details are to be revealed at a signing ceremony. The ceremony date has not been announced. The only Malaysian hybrid monorail that has been publicly touted and promoted is Metrail, however it has been rumored that MTrans, the builder of the Kuala Lumpur Monorail, has also pursued this technology in response to Metrail. The proposed system is expected to be fully financed by the Malaysian company.

Malaysian firm to build R12bn Soweto-Jo'burg monorail. Engineering News, 5/15/07.
The Monorail Society's exclusive look at the Metrail Test Track


Prostitutes on the beamway (5/10/07)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This one is right out of the "you're not gonna believe this" file. Around twenty prostitutes were arrested in Kuala Lumpur near the KL Sentral Monorail Station last night. The strange part is that they had jumped onto the tracks from a nearby building while attempting to escape a police team making a raid. Monorail service was disrupted for about an hour while monorail staff, police and firemen rounded up the prostitutes running along the tracks. They were brought down by emergency stairs that engineers use for monorail repairs.

Prostitutes jump on Monorail tracks to escape cops. nstonline, 5/11/07.

Mitsubishi Crystal Flyer

New Mitsubishi Safege designs (4/17/07)
Chiba, Japan. Chiba City Monorail may get new trains in the future, according to their website. A new "Urban Flyer O-type" design is featured on the website, one that includes that includes features that are sure to be a hit with passengers. Concepts for the "Urban Flyer O-type" train include the possibility of placing the driver in a smaller left-hand cab, allowing passengers to stand by the front windows for a spectacular view forward. Not only that, but the concept features numerous windows in the floor to add the the Peter Pan flight experience of riding Safege. Target date for operation of the first train is 2009. Besides Chiba, the Mitsubishi website is showing another new Safege train design called the "Crystal Flyer." The end cars feature stylish angles instead of the familiar "box car" designs of Shonan and Chiba. Mitsubishi designers not only have attempted to improve the look of their trains, but they state they are striving to enhance a fully unobstructed view for its passengers.

Chiba Urban Flyer monorail page
Mitsubishi Monorail Page

900-km Transrapid for Iran! (4/15/07)
Tehran, Iran. According to one report, Germany and Iran have reached agreement to build an incredible 900-kilometer Transrapid maglev line. The maglev will run between the cities of Tehran and Mashhad. Traveling between the two cities by rail currently takes about 14 hours, but with Transrapid maglev the ride will only take 2.5 to 3 hours. PressTV says Germany will invest 6.7 billion euros under a base operations support contract, which Iran will repay within 15-25 years. The Iran maglev will transport an estimated 10 million passengers per year. No confirmation from Transrapid or any other news source as we post this news brief. Stay tuned!

Germans to build Iran maglev trains. PressTV, 4/15/07.

New hope for Colorado (4/15/07)
Denver, Colorado. The door has opened up again for high-speed monorail or maglev for Colorado. The Regional Transportation District has decided to encourage private companies to finance, build and operate commuter trains in congested corridors. Since private firms would play a major part in development of rail systems, maglev and high-speed monorail are now being discussed again. Reportedly, some private companies have already contacted the RTD about bidding on rail partnerships for maglev. After a 2001 ballot issue for a high-speed monorail test track was defeated, largely as the results of then-Governor Bill Owens successfully campaigning against it as a "Disneyland ride," highway expansion has been in the forefront of government solutions to Colorado traffic woes. Now monorail and maglev proponents for Interstate 70 into the Rockies and to the Denver International Airport have another chance at getting a line built. The RTD has applied to join the Federal Transit Administration's public-private partnership pilot program. The RTD has a 12-year FasTracks comprehensive plan to build rail lines, but funding challenges to complete the program are forcing the agency to look at alternatives to 100% taxpayer-produced lines.

RTD opens door to tech. Denver Post, 4/14/07.
Colorado Monorail Website I-70 high-speed monorail proposal
Colorado Monorail-The Monorail Society Technical Pages
RTD FasTracks Website

Shanghai Maglev extension (4/10/07)
Shanhai, China. Although original hopes were for an extension to Hangzhou by 2010, when the World Expo 2010 takes place in Shanghai, a much shorter extension to the fairgrounds has reportedly been approved by the Shanghai government. The 30-km line currently runs between Pudong Shanghai International Airport and the Shanghai Lujiazui financial district. An end-to-end ride takes about eight minutes. The Transrapid trains operate at up to 430 kph (270 mph). Speeds on the extension will be slower, since the distance from Lujiazui Station to Expo 2010 is appoximately eight kilometers. Even so, the extension will allow speedy and direct transportation to the fair from Pudong Shanghai International Airport. The extension is not without controversy, as some residents along the proposed route have protested the potential loss of their homes. Discussions have been on and off again between the Chinese government and a German consortium representing Transrapid technology for the proposed 100 km Hangzhou extension.

Shanghai to expand 'maglev' route for World Expo. SignOnSanDiego.com, 4/10/07.

Monorail planned for Nigeria (3/28/07)
Calabar, Nigeria. A 12-km monorail is being planned for Calabar, a city in south eastern Nigeria. The Cross River State government has signed a $25 million contract with the Africa Export Import Bank to build the monorail. The line will link Margaret Ekpo International Airport with the new Tinapa Business Resort and Free Trade Zone. Governor Donald Duke stated "This monorail link is being put in place to ensure continued free movement of vehicular traffic within the Calabar metropolis regardless of the expected inflow of over 3 million visitors annually to Tinapa." If successful, it is hoped that the system will be expanded in the future. Calabar has an estimated population of 1.2 million residents and the number one tourist destination city in Nigeria.

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