News Brief Archives

News Briefs Archives
July 3 - September 28, 2008.

Bahrain approves monorail (09/28/08)
Manama, Bahrain. The government of Bahrain has approved a network of monorail lines to improve public transportation on the island nation. The Works Ministry is conducting a feasibility study for the first phase of the project. The three-phase network is to be completed by 2030. The system is being referred to as Monorail Metro.

Monorail approved. Gulf Daily News, 09/29/08

Metrail for City of Arabia! (09/12/08)
Another TMS exclusive!
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Metrail AG of Switzerland has been awarded the monorail contract for the City of Arabia, UAE. The City of Arabia is a 20 million square foot retail, residential, commercial and entertainment development near Dubai. Signature elements are the Mall of Arabia, one of the world’s largest malls; Restless Planet - a US $300 million theme park, an earth science museum and planetarium; Wadi Walk, a water front community with stylish apartments, outdoors cafes and retail outlets; Elite Towers, a group of 34 commercial and residential buildings. Metrail was chosen because of lower capital costs and also the recurring operational costs are about 10% of those offered by the five other well established multinational bidders. The Metrail monorail will transport residents and visitors around the development on a six-kilometer dual guideway system with eleven stations. Six flat-floor, walk-through 2-car trains will be supplied. Unique to Metrail is their hybrid power system, in which no electrical busbars or sub stations along the guideway are required to power the vehicles. 'Metrail Plus' trains will be used, which feature a low voltage, regenerative and multi-wheel drive system. Onboard auxilary power units (APU) generate the power required to propel 6-wheel bogies of the train. Frazer-Nash permanent magnet brushless motors are strong enough to help trains to climb 15% grades. The bogie design also permits turns within a tight 20-meter radius when necessary. Bill Muir, Senior Vice President-Project Management for City of Arabia, stated “From the outset, we looked for a transportation system that would complement our project. The Metrail monorail requires no electrical infrastructure and its light weight allows for imaginative station and guideway designs. Metrail’s unique and advanced ‘green’ technology will add to the Galadari Group’s commitment to the environment.” Bill Armstrong, Chief Operating Officer of Metrail, said "Metrail is confident that the success of the City of Arabia project will unlock the considerable potential for other Metrail monorail mass transit projects to be carried out not only in the UAE but also in the rest of the world.” The first alignment of the system is planned to be operational in a remarkably short twelve to eighteen months from now.

Metrail City of Arabia Press Release (1.5 MB pdf)
Metrail website
City of Arabia website

Metrail's advanced hybrid monorail design for the City of Arabia

City of Arabia, future home of new Metrail monorail system
(art renderings provided by Metrail and City of Arabia)

Battle continues for Mumbai (09/02/08)
Mumbai, India. Scomi is the remaining qualified bidder for the first phase of the Mumbai Monorail project by default, yet the contract has yet to be awarded. One of the major factors in being the sole remaining bidder is a promise to complete the 20-km line in a stunning 24 month period. Hitachi's team bid required 36 months to build the monorail. Can Scomi deliver? Hitachi's partners are asking just that, and they are also expressing criticisms over Scomi's monorail safety record with the Kuala Lumpur Monorail. The R-Infra-Hitachi consortium challenged the contract award in a presentation given to monorail officials last week. The Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) will make the final decision in the near future. MMRDA wants the monorail to open in 2011.

R-ADAG takes on L&T on monorail project. Business Standard, 08/31/08.
RInfra makes fresh pitch for monorail. Economic Times, 09/01/08.

1st look at Palm Jumeirah train (08/26/08)
Kasado, Japan. Following final inspections by Hitachi Ltd. at the company's Kasado manufacturing plant, the Palm Jumeirah monorail trains were presented in a handover ceremony on August 4th. The Palm Monorail will be the first monorail in the Middle East. Testing is scheduled to begin in October, with system operation in the Spring of 2009. Hitachi Ltd. has graciously shared the following images from the ceremony.

One of four Palm Monorail trains, prior to shipment to Dubai, UAE.

Palm developer officials receive a Palm Monorail train from officials of Hitachi Ltd. Ceremony participants included Gaku Suzuki, Vice President and Executive Officer President & CEO of Industrial Systems, Hitachi; Marwan Al Qamzi, Nakheel Managing Director; and Mitsukazu Nakata, Nakheel Project Director, Palm Jumeirah Monorail and Gateway Towers Project.

Seattle Center Red stalls (08/23/08)
Seattle, Washington. Seattle Center Monorail's Red train slowed to a stop today, leaving as much as 200 people stranded above 5th Avenue. All passengers were safely evacuated. Firefighters used two ladder trucks to bring people down. The train became unbearably hot inside, according to some of the passengers. The train was taken out of service earlier this month due to electrical problems. The Seattle Center Monorail was built for the 1962 Seattle Century 21 World's Fair, but continues to carry about 2 million passengers per year between downtown Seattle and the Center.

'It just stopped'-Monorail breaks down, firefighters rescue passengers. Seattle PI, 8/23/08.
Passengers evacuated from stalled Seattle monorail. KOMOnews.com, 08/23/08.

????-????? to develop Makkah Monorail (08/28/08)

Note: This news brief was removed from The Monorail Society website on Dec. 26, 2008 under threat of legal action. The news was based on following press release, which as of 12/26/08, remains online:

????-????? Makkah Press Release (pdf residing at external link)

Shanghai-Hangzhou Maglev construction in 2010 (08/17/08)
Shanghai, China. After a year delay resulting from citizen protests against the project, the maglev project to connect Shanghai and Hangzhou appears to be back on track. Government authorities have announced a revised schedule for completion. The line was orginally going to open for the 2010 Shanghai World's Fair, but now the maglev system will be operational by 2014. The length of the line has been increased to nearly 200 kilometers from the original plan of 175 kilometers. The $2 billion project is now projected to start construction in 2010. How local residents in Shanghai and along the route react may have more adverse effects on that plan. Their original objections were over the displacement of residents and a perceived danger over 'radiation' from passing trains. The latest alignment has not been released yet. The system will connect to the Transrapid Maglev now connecting Shanghai with Pudong International Airport.

Maglev project to begin construction in 2010. China Daily, 08/18/08.
Maglev finally given approval. Shanghai Daily, 08/18/08.

Is Scomi the Mumbai winner? (08/14/08)
Mumbai, India. News reports are suggesting that Scomi is close to clinching the deal for the Mumbai Monorail Project. The Reliance Infrastructure group, which is partnered with Hitachi for the Mumbai bid, has reportedly been eliminated from selection process. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) indicated that the Malaysian company, Scomi Engineering Bhd, had a more "sound and promising" bid submission. According to MMRDA commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad, one of the factors was Scomi promise to complete the initial line in 24 months, as opposed to Hitachi's promise of over 50 months. Gaikwad stated "There were several other factors also and we have already informed Reliance in writing about the decision on Monday.'' Confirmation of the winning bid may be within the next few days.

Anil Ambaini too exits 1,400-cr monorail project. Times of India, 08/14/08.
Scomi Close To Clinching Mumbai Monorail Project. Bernama, 08/14/08.

Crane slices Wuppertal train (08/06/08)
Wuppertal, Germany. A crane operator disregarded warning signs to not drive under the Wuppertal Schwebebahn with his crane jib in the up position. The resulting accident sliced the bottom of a passing suspended monorail train. No passengers were injured, but the crane operator was seriously hurt. The Wuppertal Schwebebahn has operated since 1901. Images of the accident can be seen via the links below.

Kran schlitzt Wuppertaler Schwebebahn auf. Welt Online, 08/05/08.
Wuppertaler Schwebebahn : Aufgeschlitzt von Lkw-Aufbau. Spiegel Online, 08/06/08.

Futrex up for sale (07/31/08)
Charleston, North Carolina. The Board of Directors and management of Futrex Inc. have put their company and technology up for sale. Monticello Capitol, a Reston, Virginia investment banking firm, will advise and assist Futrex with the sale. Futrex was founded in 1986 devoted to the development of the System 21 monobeam technology. A quarter-scale operating prototype was developed and received considerable attention. Moving to the next step has been the challenge, a full-scale passenger-carrying System 21, but company officials believe the right buyer might help. “This is the next logical step in our company’s strategic plan for developing and commercializing our promising technology,” said Byron Waldman, President and CEO of Futrex.

Futrex website

Las Vegas airport extension shortened (07/28/08)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas Monorail (LVM) officials have shortened the proposed airport extension by approximately one mile. The shorter distance will reduce the cost of the extension considerably, as well as avoiding a potential controversy of running the monorail next to a residential area along Swenson Street. The Monorail Society has been informed by LVM that a major sponsor of the monorail asked for a more direct alignment to the airport from the current terminus station at the MGM Resort. A public scoping meeting was held last week with area business owners and interested citizens. Three proposed stations are eliminated in the new alignment, including at the Hard Rock Resort and the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV. A finance plan for the extension will be announced before the end of the year.

Red Line: prior alignment proposal Blue Line: new proposed alignment

Palm Monorail; before the emergency walkway was added

Palm Monorail opening set for Spring 2009 (07/22/08)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Construction on the iconic monorail system for the man made island, Palm Jumeirah, is progressing towards a December completion. The monorail will be the first rail system in United Arab Emirates. Following completion, a four month test period will commence before opening the system to the public. ArabianBusiness.com is reporting that costs have risen by $20 million to the project, bringing the final cost to approximately $400 million. The monorail developer indicated that securing three years of spare parts for the trains contributed to the additional cost. One of the reasons for the overall high cost of the monorail is the challenging environment the system is being built upon. There are several water crossings and the vast majority of the line is built on new landfill. Another contributing cost factor may be the addition of an emergency walkway. Recent online images of the monorail construction at SkyscraperCity.com show new structure attached between and below the two tracks. Since space between the trains wasn't initially provided, it appears that the walkway was an afterthought. Critics may contend the added structure detracts from the clean lines of the original guideway design. Still, at about $75 million/kilometer, the monorail is a bargain compared to many other fixed guideways around the world, and long term operational costs of monorail are far less than competing modes as well.

Palm monorail hit by four-month delay. ArabianBusiness.com, 07/22/08.

Monorailex 2008 takes place in Kuala Lumpur, home of one of the world's best examples of monorail in a modern urban setting


Monorailex 2008 conference/expo. (07/21/08)
Leusden, The Netherlands. Brisk Events of the Netherlands, has announced a dedicated Monorail Conference and Exhibition Event, to be held on December 10-11, 2008 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Monorail Society (TMS) has been invited to support this event and will not only give support, but will also to participate in the Conference with the presentation of a key-note speech. MONORAILEX 2008 is a first time meeting dedicated entirely to the fascinating operational and technological aspects of modern monorail. The event is open to all interested parties. The event organizer, Brisk Events from The Netherlands, is prepared to share information with these parties having the same serious and professional interest: “to make this event a world class meeting for visionary public transport specialists.” For more information on the event, please visit the Monorailex website at www.monorailex.com.

10/10/08: UPDATE - Monorailex 2008 CANCELLED.
Expo is in process of rescheduled to Spring 2009 and moved to Dubai. Visit monorailex.com for updates.

Progress at Jungle Jim's (07/20/08)
Fairfield, Ohio. Jungle Jim's International Market, a six-acre store off of Route 4 in Fairfield, Ohio, is making progress on reviving its recycled theme park monorail. In 1998 the old Wild Animal Habitat monorail from King's Island theme park was purchased by the market, in hopes of rebuilding it as an on-property transport. $3.4 million dollars and ten years later, the project is nearly ready for public debut. The monorail had operated for nearly 20 years at King's Island as an animal safari. Trains have been entirely refurbished and new track has been fabricated. A Fall 2008 opening is being considered.

A part of History Brought Back to Life at Jungle Jim's. kicentral.com.

Tokyo Monorail impresses Thai officials (07/18/08)
Bangkok, Thailand. Thailand's Minister of Transport, Santi Prompat, came away impressed after a first hand look at Tokyo's monorail recently. Mr. Santi stated that the system would be ideal for Bangkok. He stated that monorails are comparatively inexpensive and capable of carrying over 100,000 passengers per day. He also pointed out they are pollution free and virtually noiseless. Several alignments in Bangkok would be ideal for monorail, including Petchaburi and Lad Proa roads. The minister will order the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning to conduct a feasibility study for a Bangkok Monorail. Japan's state bank for international development may help bring the monorail to reality with loans.

Japan increases transport loans; Minister orders monorail feasibility study. MCOT.net, 07/18/08.

Transrapid for Melbourne proposed (07/18/08)
Melbourne, Australia. Transrapid is suggesting that Melbourne could have a high-speed maglev airport connector for half the price of a shorter, planned subway rail line. A 100 kilometer line could link Melbourne central business district with the airport, while the subway line will only connect the communities of Footscray and Caulfield. Passengers could get to the airport in a mere twelve minutes. However, cynics are everywhere, which was illustrated by the Australian's Victorian political reporter, Rick Wallace, writing "the plan is certain to be mocked for its echoes of a famous The Simpsons plot line."

Monorail proposal to link airports. The Australian, 07/18/08.

Two bidders left for Mumbai (07/15/08)
Mumbai, India. According to press reports, Hitachi and Scomi are the two remaining monorail suppliers left in the bid process for Mumbai Monorail. They are part of two consortiums vying for the $340 million first phase of the project. Hitachi is part of the Reliance Infrastructure Ltd group, while Scomi is with Larsen and Toubro. Bombardier of Canada withdrew from the process, according to D. Kawathkar, the joint director of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). Selection of the winner could take place in as little as a week from now. The MMRDA hopes to begin work on the 20-kilometer monorail before the end of the year, with a targeted opening of 2011.

Two consortiums left in race for Mumbai Monorail project. Thaindian News, 07/15/08.
LT, Reliance Infra bid for country's first monorail. The Economic Times, 07/15/08.

MonoMobile: car/monorail hybrid proposal (07/15/08)
Cincinnati, Ohio. MonoMobile has completed a prototype automobile that can operate on city streets, then transform itself into a suspended monorail vehicle. Called the Liberator, developers hope to obtain funds to build a one-mile test track. While in monorail mode, the Liberator uses electric power to cruise along at up to 100 mph, while at the same time batteries are charged for auto use when it returns to the streets. MonoMobile is similar in scope to the Danish RUF monorail/car proposal, yet RUF uses a straddle-beam monorail instead of a suspended monorail track. Developers of MonoMobile state a Liberator Car system would have many of the benefits of mass transit plus the convenience of the automobile.

CityEl, the 200 mph electric car zips along monorail. Dvice.com, 07/14/08
MonoMobile website

New spiraling monorail in Shanghai store (07/08/08)
Shanghai, China. The new Red Star Macalline store in Shanghai has one of the most unique monorails in the world. The newly-opened furnishing store features a mini-monorail system that spirals it's way up inside the store's six stories, stopping on each floor. The 14-meter long system is the first of its kind in the world. The unique store also features indoor trees and water landscapes.

In-House Train Serves Mall Shoppers. CRIenglish.com, 06/24/08.

Mark VII Red service debut (07/03/08)
Anaheim, California. According the Los Angeles Times and Mouse Planet, the long awaited debut of Mark VII monorail passenger service begins today in Disneyland. A 'soft opening' of passenger rides will continue throughout the holiday weekend, according to Disneyland officials. Monorail Red Mark VII has been on the guideway since December of last year, undergoing tests without guests. Air conditioning problems were part of the reason for the delay in service. If Monorail Red's performance is up to Disney standards, Monorail Blue will be the next to premier on the beamway.

Mark VII Red rolls into Downtown Disney Station
photo courtesy of Darkbeer (David Michael)

New bench seating and LED lighting featured in Mark VII trains
photo courtesy of Darkbeer (David Michael)

/ News Briefs Archives