News Brief Archives
August 6 - September 23, 2004.


Almaty Monorail development continues. (9/23/04)
Almaty, Kazakhstan. As we reported in June, a major monorail system is being planned for the City of Almaty, Kazakhstan. E.J. Miller, President of the Almaty Metro-Monorail Corporation (based in Rockville, Maryland), tells us the system will eventually have approximately 40 kilometers of track. A supplier for trains has not been established yet. Retail is planned to be an integral part of the system.

Almaty Monorail website

Update: 9/27/04. Today we received a communication from E.J. Miller of Almaty Metro-Monorail requesting that information on the proposed system be removed from our website. Before we publicized the monorail via the above News Brief, Mr. Miller had requested "a page on your website" regarding the monorail. We saw it as news, and therefore reported it. The story above is based on press stories and information from their website. Mr. Miller now states that "No final determination has yet been made regarding the monorail system and/or metro and/or elevated rail system to be used in Almaty." We have removed all references to Severn-Lamb, which had been listed as the supplier for the Almaty Monorail in a previous press story. Mr. Miller states that negotiations are still under way for selection of a monorail supplier. Stay tuned for further information as it becomes available.

  Problem solvers study Las Vegas Monorail. (9/23/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. The Las Vegas Monorail Company has hired the management company Exponent, to review the problem-plagued monorail. Since the system opened in July, a 60-pound steering wheel and two-pound washer have fallen from trains on two separate occasions. The system has been closed since the most recent incident on September 8. The independent experts of Exponent have investigated major disasters such as the Exxon Valdez, the walkway collapse at the Kansas City Hyatt, and the Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City. However, most of their work consists of helping clients with day-to-day technical issues or challenges, according to their website. Monorail spokesman Todd Walker said "Whether it's $10 or $10,000, we're going to spare no expense on ensuring this system, when it reopens, is the system we all anticipated." Before the system can open again, monorail officials must prove the system is safe to the Clark County Building Division, which oversees the system's safety.

Consultants hired to investigate monorail problems. Las Vegas Sun, 9/22/04.
The monorail: A dissent. Las Vegas Mercury, 9/23/04


Sentosa Island Monorail for sale (9/23/04)
Sentosa Island, Singapore. The famous Von Roll monorail system on Sentosa Island is up for sale. The system has been shuttling tourists around the island since 1981. The peoplemover is being removed from the island for a new Hitachi Small monorail, currently being installed to link the island to the mainland. Zhuo Suicheng contacted the Monorail Society and informed us 18 kilometers of track, a full set of monorail trains and related equipment is available for purchase. Inquiries may be addressed to Zhuo Suicheng.

TMS Sentosa Island Monorail page


Monorail Malaysia agreement for Seoul City (9/13/04)
Seoul City, South Korea. Monorail Malaysia Technology signed a joint-venture agreement with officials of the Gangnam District, Seoul City, to design and build a 6.7 km monorail system. The $175 million system will be based on the MTrans monorail being used for the Kuala Lumpur Monorail System. The Korean monorail is to be designed to compliment the extensive subway system already serving Gangnam and Seoul. The Gangnam District will provide a subsidy of 40% toward the cost of the project. KL Infrastructure and Monorail Malaysia plan to finance the rest of the project costs through a combination of external loans and equity. The agreement is expected to be finalized within nine months.

Malaysia KL Infrastructure JV To Develop S Korea Monorail. Yahoo News, 9/13/04.


Seattle Monorail Recall back in play. (9/13/04)
Seattle, Washington. A state appeals court has ruled today that the Monorail Recall Initiative 83 should be placed on the November ballot. The measure seeks to ban city permits for the monorail. Today's decision overrules a King County Superior Court ruling that would have kept the initiative off the ballot. If the measure goes to the ballot, it is estimated that it will cost the city $890,000 in election costs. Monorail activist Peter Sherwin said that money would be wasted if later court rulings deem the initiative to be illegal. The Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) has already challenged I-83 with two lawsuits. SMP argues that 10,000 signatures should be tossed out because they were collected before a judge rewrote the initiative. Also, they contend the initiative itself is illegal because it circumvents state land-use laws. The case is expected to go to Washington's Supreme Court for a final ruling.

Monorail-recall initiative should appear on ballot, appeals court rules. Seattle Times, 9/13/04.


Seattle Monorail Project contract negotiations to start. (9/9/04)
Seattle, Washington. Another huge milestone occurred for the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) as its governing board unanimously gave the go ahead to begin negotiations with Cascadia Monorail Company for the 14-mile system. Cascadia is made up of a consortium led by Washington Group International, Fluor and Japanese monorail supplier Hitachi. Cascadia submitted its bid three weeks ago, and the SMP has determined that the team is qualified. Their proposal meets the important requirement of remaining below the voter-approved $1.6 billion cap on construction debt or the amount available from a citywide car-tab tax. Cascadia is the sole bidder, as Bombardier's Team Monorail dropped out only weeks before the due date for bid submission. "The board is satisfied that Cascadia's proposal meets the criteria we established at the outset of this process, so we are now ready to move forward into negotiations," said SMP board chair Tom Weeks. "This is not an approval to sign a contract, but an authorization for staff to start negotiations. Before we will consider a contract, it will have to meet a very high bar in terms of delivering to taxpayers a high quality system that Seattle can be proud of for generations to come." The Ballard-Downtown-West Seattle line is scheduled to open in 2009.

Monorail bid low enough; talks given green light. Seattle Times, 9/9/04.


Another part falls from Las Vegas M-VI. (9/8/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. The Las Vegas Monorail has closed...again. Today, a 6-inch disk weighing one to two pounds hit a bus bar, caused electrical arcing and then fell from the Bombardier M-VI to a busy street below. No one was hurt. Las Vegas Monorail spokesman Todd Walker said a slip disk connected to the drive train came loose. The monorail will reopen when Clark County inspectors and monorail officials say it's safe. Does this sound vaguely familiar? It should, it's what we heard when a 60-pound steering wheel fell from the monorail on September 1. The system was closed until yesterday for that incident. The monorail system will now undergo intense testing, with every train's undercarriage being completely dismantled and inspected.

Las Vegas Monorail closes one day after it reopens. Las Vegas Sun, 9/8/04.


Las Vegas Monorail open again. (9/7/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. The Las Vegas Monorail opened for business again today. The system was closed for almost a week due to a steering guide wheel falling from a train. Transit Systems Management says testing went well and they resumed their normal 8 AM to midnight operations today. A Las Vegas Monorail spokesperson says an investigation into last Wednesday's accident revealed that the 60-pound steering wheel was installed improperly at Bombardier's plant in Canada. No one was hurt as a result of the accident, but it cost the company an estimated $480,000 in lost revenue.

Las Vegas Monorail to resume service Tuesday morning. KESQ TV, 9/6/04.


New Zealand nature monorail proposal. (9/5/04)
Queenstown, New Zealand. Those of you that were with us during our newsletter days (1989-1997) may remember a proposal for a monorail in New Zealand. That monorail project hasn't gone away, and Riverstone Holdings Ltd director Philip Phillips will reveal a formal proposal this week to build the system. The $150 million proposal would speed up transportation for tourists from Queenstown to Milford Sound, New Zealand's spectacular fjord. If built, tourists would be able to take a catamaran from Queenstown to Mt. Nicholas Station. From there they would be shuttled to a monorail station. At that point they would board a 35 km monorail line. The monorail would travel through the scenery of the Snowden forest. The final leg of their journey to Milford Sound would be by coach from Te Anau Downs. A 400-page environmental impact report put together by a team of experts over the past 18 months. A rival proposal for a gondola system has met with a great deal of opposition from environmentalists.

Fiord Land Link website. Includes maps of proposed route and information.
Monorail to the scenery. New Zealand Herald, 9/6/04.
Resort moguls in pet project scrap. stuff.co.nz, 9/4/04.


Tire falls from Las Vegas Monorail. (9/1/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Yet another mishap for the Las Vegas Monorail. This morning a tire fell from a northbound train, and luckily it fell into a parking lot without injuring anyone. The timing probably couldn't be worse, as this week Las Vegas has ninety thousand conventioneers in town for Magic, the Men's Apparel Guild In California show. Huge numbers of conventioneers were expected to ride the system. A northbound train had just left Harrah's when it suddenly lost a tire. Passengers were briefly stranded, but the train was able to slowly make it's way to the next stop. Small back up wheels are built into the trains for such events. The monorail will be closed until a cause for the accident can be determined.

Las Vegas Monorail Shut Down After Tire Falls Off. KVBC TV, Las Vegas.


Fictional book on maglevs and monorails published. (8/22/04)
Santa Rosa, California. Monorail Society member Robert S. Ruehrdanz recently published his first book, entitled "Why Phoenix?" The story follows a small consulting company as it embarks on a pioneering joint venture to bring maglev and monorail plans to fruition. Editor/author Robert Gover says of the book, "One of the most fascinating things about [Why Phoenix?] is that the story is of a business venture - something found in very few novels." Ruehrdanz hopes that his book opens some eyes to the possibilities of maglev and monorail transit here in the USA. In fact, contained within the fiction are a number of non-fiction website addresses, including several to the Monorail Society Website. Thanks Robert, and good luck with the book! The book is available through Trafford Books and Amazon.com.

Why Phoenix? page. Trafford Books Website.


Hitachi talks in Ho Chi Minh City (8/22/04)
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Marubeni-Hitachi Groups are going to Vietnam in September to prepare a feasibility study for monorail in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). The study will then be submitted to city authorities next February. Hitachi maintains that a monorail would cost two-thirds of what a subway line would with the same capacity. The experts estimate the cost for one kilometer to be around $30 million USD. The system is proposed to carry 20,000-30,000 passengers per hour along a 20 kilometer route. Vice Mayor of Ho Chi Minh City Nguyen Van Dua said the city's public transport service has met only 5 percent of demands and the city plans to invest in subway and monorail systems.

Japan helps draft feasibility study on monorail in HCM City. Vietnam News Agency, 8/22/04.


Cascadia submits bid for Seattle Monorail Project. (8/16/04)
Seattle, Washington. Hitachi's Cascadia Monorail Company today made history with the submission of their bid to be the builder of the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) Green Line. A massive amount of documentation was delivered by Cascadia to SMP, which in coming weeks will carefully be examined to see if it meets the criteria set forth in the Request for Proposal, released earlier this year. In September SMP will recommend to the agency's board whether to negotiate an agreement with the contractor group. Groundbreaking is scheduled for late this year with completion of the 14-mile line projected for 2009. Monorail opponents have decried the fact that only one bid is being submitted. Monorail Society President Kim Pedersen responded "It was a marathon between Cascadia Monorail and Team Monorail, it just so happens that Team Monorail 'pulled a muscle' on the final stretch. That doesn't mean it wasn't a very competitive race!" Cascadia Monorail Company's team includes:

  • Hitachi, Ltd.
  • Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.) Inc.
  • HDR Engineering, Inc.
  • Howard S. Wright Construction Co.
  • Hoffman Construction
  • RCI Construction Group
  • Other local Seattle and Washington State contractors and consultants

Cascadia Monorail website
Hitachi Monorail website
Seattle Monorail Project website

Articles added 8/17/04...
Seattle finally has a monorail plan. Seattle Times, 8/17/04.
Lone monorail proposal tendered. Seattle P-I, 8/17/04.


Seattle Alwegs to return to service. (8/15/04)
Seattle, Washington. The historic Seattle Center Monorail may return to service before the end of the year. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has announced a plan to restore and upgrade the worlds' last remaining Alweg-built monorail system in time for the December holiday season. The price to bring the one-mile system back to life is estimated to be $2.5 million. Planning work will begin this week, with repair to follow at an undetermined date. Repairs will include modifying the trains' electrical systems to eliminate the possibility for the type of electrical arcing that caused the Blue Train fire. A "hot body" detector and new grounding system will be installed; trains floors and walls will be made fire-resistant enough to allow safe evacuation; and train gearboxes will be insulated. Emergency procedures are being revisited by Seattle Monorail Services, the company that operates the vintage 1961-built monorail. The monorail is slated for removal if the 14-mile Seattle Monorail Project Green Line monorail is constructed. Preservationists are hoping that the Alweg trains are saved for display or possibly put into service at another location. The Seattle Center Monorail carries more than 2 million riders annually. Businesses at both ends of the line have noticed around 30% drop in sales since the line closed after the fire. The originator of Seattle's monorail movement, Dick Falkenbury, stated "Are any of the downtown businesses that oppose the new monorail listening--and learning? "Monorails bring money"--begin printing the T shirts."

Monorail to get back on track by year's end. Seattle P-I, 8/13/04.
Seattle Center Monorail website

  Judge halts Seattle recall initiative. (8/13/04)
Seattle, Washington. Monorailists are celebrating Friday the 13th, as King County Superior Court Judge Steven Gonzalez today declared Initiative 83 illegal. I-83, known as the "Monorail Recall" measure, sought to block construction of Seattle Monorail Project's Green Line from Ballard to West Seattle by not allowing permits. Judge Gonzalez declared that the I-83 campaign was an "end-run" revote effort and may violate the Washington state's Growth Management Act. The monorail is considered an "essential public facility" under other state legislation and is therefore not subject to cancellation by voter initiative. An appeal is under consideration by recall proponent attorneys. Chad Maglaque summed up monorailist's response on one discussion group with a brief posting: "happy joy joy."

Judge tosses out monorail recall initiative. Seattle P-I, 8/13/04.
Judge declares monorail recall measure illegal. Seattle Times, 8/13/04.
  Las Vegas ridership "strong." (8/12/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Officials of the Las Vegas Monorail announced that the system has carried more than a half-million passengers during its first half-month. "It's exciting to see the enthusiasm continue to build for the monorail as more and more passengers experience this new and innovative way of navigating along the Las Vegas Strip," said James Gibson, chairman and CEO of Transit Systems Management, the project's management firm.  "Since opening day, our ridership levels have remained strong, with the monorail averaging 30,811 rides each day.  We anticipate an increase in ridership and revenues in the months ahead as the convention season comes into full swing and the monorail's hours of operation are expanded from its current 16-hour day to a 20-hour day."  Over $1.5 million in ticket revenues have been generated by the 523,794 riders that crossed through fare gates from the July 15 opening to the end of July. Ridership figures will also be released for August in mid-September. The monorail also generates millions in revenues from advertising on trains and in stations. The monorail currently operates daily from 8 AM to Midnight.

One man's money fuels Seattle recall. (8/12/04)
Seattle, Washington. While the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) is the result of a bottom-up grassroots initiative process, the current Monorail Recall initiative campaign is largely attributed to deep pocket contributions of one man. Developer Martin Selig to date has contributed over $175,000 to I-83, also known as the Monorail Recall initiative. Selig states he intends to give more too. The money has paid for professional signature gatherers services and lodging, as opposed to the volunteer signature gatherers of several previous pro-monorail campaigns. Selig has also paid for attorney fees, clerical services and parking for I-83 volunteers. Initiative 83 seeks to ban permits for SMP's 14-mile Green Line. How Seattleites will respond to Selig's campaign remains to be seen. Most voters in Seattle are on the left side of politics, which usually doesn't respond positively to wealthy individuals bankrolling causes they perceive will favor their businesses. Before even making it to the ballot, I-83 is currently facing a lawsuit made by SMP and its backers. The suit challenges the use of 9,000 signatures on the initiative that predate wording changes made by a judge. To get on the ballot, the measure needs 17,229 valid signatures. If the suit succeeds, it's unlikely that there are enough signatures for it to qualify for November's ballot. If that happens, monorail opponents state they will try for another ballot spot early next year. However, stopping the project would be much more difficult if contracts are signed with Cascadia Monorail first, the current sole bidder.

Developer boosts aid for anti-monorail campaign. Seattle Times, 8/12/04.


Retirees promote Milton Keynes Monorail. (8/9/04)
Milton Keynes, United Kingdom. Milton Keynes, compared to most communities in England, is brand new. Established only 30 years ago, founders wanted to create a modern city. Three retirees are now trying get city officials to make good on one of the original goals of founders, to have a modern transit system. Dennis Brett, Ossie Haywood and Andy Mcgookin have drawn up extensive plans for a monorail to run from Junction 14 to the Xscape building in the city. They believe their plan is the answer to traffic congestion and parking problems in the area. The proposal is being met with much approval by citizens. However, as we have seen in other cities around the world, if it isn't invented at City Hall, it's "not worthy of consideration." Calling the idea "too expensive," Milton Keynes politicians have turned down the idea outright. Monorail Society President Kim Pedersen was interviewed today by BBC Three Counties Radio celebrity "Big George" and asked about monorails. Pedersen noted that monorails are gaining in popularity throughout the world. Several questions were in regards to Las Vegas and Seattle. Milton Keynes monorail proponents are currently sharing their plans with citizens and recruiting more believers to help their campaign.

Monorail plan 'will cut traffic problems.' Milton Keynes Citizen, 8/5/04.
Milton Keynes Monorail website


Bombardier withdraws from Seattle. (8/6/04)
Seattle, Washington. Bombardier's Team Monorail announced today that it would not compete for the $1.75 billion Seattle Monorail Project (SMP). The surprise move leaves Hitachi's Cascadia Monorail Company LLC as the sole bidder for the 14-mile Green Line system. SMP officials say the process for bidding on the system will continue. August 16th is the due date for proposals to be submitted. Tom Horkan, Team Monorail's project design and construction director, said that the team as unable to provide performance bonds of more than $500 million for the project. Monorail Recall proponents will likely to use the news as more evidence that the SMP project is flawed and should be canceled. Joel Horn, Executive Director for SMP, says, "While we had hoped to receive proposals from two contractor teams, from the outset this process has anticipated that eventually we'd be dealing with only one team."

Seattle Monorail Project press release. 8/6/04. (pdf)
Team Monorail, one of two monorail bidders, withdraws.
Seattle Times, 8/6/04.

Articles added 8/7/04...
One of two monorail bidders drops out. Seattle P-I, 8/7/04.
Monorail project down to one bidder. Seattle Times, 8/7/04.


Recommendations for Seattle Center Monorail (8/6/04)
Seattle, Washington. Engineering consultants SNC-Lavalin and Hughes Associates have issued a report on the cause of the Memorial Day fire on the Seattle Center Monorail. The fire trapped 150 passengers inside the Blue Train until the Red Train and firemen rescued them. The fire was the first in the Monorail's history. The report focuses on four recommendations for modifications to the trains as a result of the fire:

  • Electrical systems on the trains should be modified; (1) isolate the car body and structure from the negative power rail (currently bonded to it); (2) install a "hot body" detection system; and, (3) install a grounding system for the car bodies when they are in the stations. These measures will eliminate the potential for the type of arcing that led to the Blue Train fire.
  • Fire safety analysis; emergency evacuation procedures and coordination to be expanded and tested with the Fire Department.
  • Fire rating of certain train materials to be reviewed.
  • Engineering studies to be undertaken to further evaluate whether additional changes in equipment or systems coordination are needed.

"The report provides a solid set of recommendations that Seattle Center and Seattle Monorail Services are evaluating. We are working expeditiously on a course of action," said Tom Albro, Director of Seattle Monorail Services. Cost of repairs hasn't been determined yet, and a decision whether to repair the system or not has yet to be made. The 1962 Alweg one-mile line is to be replaced by the 14-mile Green Line monorail. On deciding to run again or not, Seattle Center spokesman Perry Cooper says, "That's what our cost-and-benefit analysis is going to be in the next couple of weeks."

Safety flaws found on monorail. Seattle Times, 8/5/04.
Monorail may never run again. Seattle P-I, 8/6/04.

    / News Briefs Archives