News Brief Archives

News Briefs Archives
August 8 - December 15, 2009.

Abrupt Wuppertal Schwebeban closure (12/15/09)
Wuppertal, Germany. Operation of Wuppertal's famous Schwebebahn monorail system came to an abrupt halt today. The closure is a result of inspectors finding serious flaws in the supporting structure, most of which is over 100 years old. The system is expected to be closed until April of 2010. Buses will take some of the 85,000 passengers that normally use the Schwebebahn each day. The sudden shut down created a chaotic situation today, and the freezing temperatures of winter weather didn't help. The needed repairs are a surprise, considering the entire line has been undergoing a 480-million Euro repair and upgrade process since 1997.

Wuppertaler Schwebebahn steht bis April 2010 still. Stern.de, 12/15/09

International Monorail Association established (12/03/09)
Wuppertal, Germany. The interior of the historic Wuppertal Kaiserwagen was the setting for the signing of official documents establishing the International Monorail Association (IMA). About 15 participants from around the world gathered for the event, which included a behind the scenes tour of Wuppertal Schwebebahn facilities. As stated on their website, "The International Monorail Association mission is to organize the global monorail sector, promote the application of monorail, publish information, and initiate and support standardization processes of monorail for public mass transport infrastructure." Kanesan Valuppillia of Scomi International Pte Ltd received a certificate as the First Founding Member of IMA. Sumitra Lyengar of Geodesic Techniques of Bangalore, India will serve as IMA's first Presient. The establishment of IMA was spearheaded by Jaap Ketel of Brisk Events, who organized a 'Monorailex' event gathering in Dubai earlier this year. The next Monorailex event is planned for Kuala Lumpur in 2010.

International Monorail Association website

Two test tracks for Penang? (11/30/09)
Penang, Malaysia. The Penang government is reportedly 'allowing' two local companies to build monorail test tracks in Severagn Perai Selatan. Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy said, "Our aim is to showcase the monorail technology. The state government is not bound by any agreement involving project cost." He stated the unamed monorail companies have wide experience in monorail projects and would each build a one kilometer test track. Penang evidently wants tracks built on its own state land to see if the technology is suitable for future use in the area. The Penang Development Corporation has issued an initial letter on the test track project which would provide job opportunities and hardware manufacturing economic returns. Political opposition to the current holders of power are already questioning the wisdom of building test tracks. Dr. Teng Hock Nan stated, "It appears that the state leadership does not understand public transportation matters. It looks like they have given the nod for the tracks to be built merely because they will not spend anything on it."

Monorail Tracks For Penang. Bernama.com.my, 11/29/09.
Gerakan questions wisdom of monorail plan in Seberang Prai. New Straits Times, 11/30/09.

Colorful trains for Mumbai (11/23/09)
Mumbai, India. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has finalized color selection for their fleet of Scomi monorail trains. The colors will be green, blue and maroon. The trains are being referred to as earth trains, nature trains and sky trains. Ratnakar Gaikwad, a MMRDA Commissioner, stated "Each identifies an element of nature. Maroon celebrates Mother Earth, Green associates with environment and Blue promises an experience where sky is the limit, and the aerodynamic design of the monorail simply indicates the speed with which this vibrant city runs." Interiors and Exteriors were recommended by the National Institute of Design.

MMRDA approves three sets of colours for monorail fleet. Mid Day, 11/22/09.

Scomi train colors for Mumbai

Anaheim asks 'monorail or bus?' (11/13/09)
Anaheim, California. The City of Anaheim wants public input on what type of transit system to build as a 3.5-mile connector between the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) and Disneyland. The choices include increasing bus service, building dedicated lanes for buses, or building some type of elevated system, either peoplemover, monorail or maglev. Natalie Meeks, Anaheim's public works director, says all options are on the table but city leaders are seeing the strong benefits of an elevated system. If built, it would run from ARTIC at the 57 freeway and Katella Avenue west to Gene Autry Way, then south along Harbor Boulevard to the Disney Resort area. It would include four stops and cost an estimated $300-500 million.

Buses or monorail in Anaheim resort area? Orange County Register, 11/12/09.
Anaheim Fixed Guideway website

Himeji Monorail sees daylight again (11/11/09)
Himeji, Japan. For the first time in over 30 years, the Himeji Monorail trains have been revealed to the public. The monorail closed in the 1970s, due to low ridership. The system ran between Himeji Rail Station and an amusement park several kilometers away. The trains have been locked away inside the amusement park station all these years, but now two cars of the train are set to undergo restoration. On November 15th everyone will be able to see them up close and personal at Himeji Central Park. The trains are reportedly the world's sole surviving Nihon/Lockheed monorails, which use steel wheels on steel rails placed on top and on the side of a concrete beam. The technology was originally slated to be used for Seattle's Century 21 World's Fair in 1962, but Lockheed pulled out of the project late in planning. Alweg ended up building the still-running Seattle Center Monorail. Nihon/Lockheed Monorails were built for a test track in Gifu, Japan, and two public-operating rail station-amusement park connectors at Mukogaoka and Himeji. While Himeji's Monorail only lasted a few years, Mukogaoka's monorail ran until the 1990s.

Video Tour of Himeji Monorail. FM GENKI Internet TV, 10/27/09.
Himeji Monorail November 15 event. City of Himeji website.
Video of original monorail operating.

Dusty Himeji train seen again (photo courtesy of City of Himeji)

Himeji Monorail during its operating days

WDW Monorail Teal begins service (11/05/09)
Another TMS exclusive!
Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Monorail Teal began operations at Walt Disney World yesterday. Monorail Teal is made up of the undamaged segments of former trains Monorail Pink and Purple. Those trains collided on July 5th, which tragically resulted in the death of 21-year-old monorail pilot Austin Wuennenberg. As one monorail pilot said upon seeing the new train, "it was bittersweet to see it." The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is continuing its investigation of the accident. It will issue a report sometime before its 6-month deadline of January 5, 2010.

Monorail Teal on its first service day
Both photos courtesy of TMS member Melanie Stein

Bangalore Monorail project inches forward (10/31/09)
Bangalore, India. The City of Bangalore is considered to be the 'Silicon Valley of India.' 35% of India's IT talent is located there and the industry generates a huge amount of India's overall GDP. City planners are working on a transit system that matches the technology base with a proposed monorail system. The first alignment to be developed would be 20 kilometers in length and would be completed in 30 months. The project is still pending final approval, yet progress continues to be made towards implementation. Malaysia's Scomi Broup Bhd and Bangalore's Geodesic Techniques Private Ltd have signed an agreement to submit a joint proposal to design, build, own, operate and transfer the system.

Bids open for monorail. Times of India, 10-31-09.
Scomi Geodesic to submit proposal for Bangalore monorail. Steel Guru, 10/31/09.

UK Ultraspeed battles on for maglev (10/26/09)
United Kingdom. UK Ultraspeed is continuing its efforts to build a Transrapid Maglev system from Glasgow, Scotland to London, England. UK Ultraspeed was established in 2003. Dr. Alan James, UK Ultraspeed CEO, recently argued for the proposal in an article in Railway Technology International. The article points out the fundamental advantages of maglev monorail when compared to high speed rail (HSR), including HSR being 3 times the operational costs and requiring double the energy of Transrapid maglev.

Faster, Better, Cheaper and Greener:
UK Ultraspeed and the Case for Transrapid Maglev Versus High Speed Rail (pdf)

Railway Techology International (link courtesy of magnetbahnforum.de)

UK Ultraspeed website

New blended train for WDW (10/17/09)
Lake Buena Vista, Florida. After the tragic collision on July 5th, procedures were immediately implemented at Walt Disney World to prevent a similar occurance. Austin Weunnenberg, a 21-year old monorail pilot, was killed when Monorail Pink backed into Monorail Purple, the train he was operating. A series of errors allowed Monorail Pink to back up on the wrong track, instead of moving onto an adjacent track via a switch. This week WDW monorail personnel were informed that the good parts of Monorails Pink and Purple have been joined, sanded and placed on Beam 10 in the maintenance/storage facility. Beam 10 serves as the paint booth for WDW monorail trains. Per the wishes of WDW monorail pilots, the colors Pink and Purple have been retired out of respect to Wuenneberg. The new train will be designated Monorail Teal. Testing and adjustment is scheduled to begin on November 5th. Another train is reportedly going to be built and added in 2010, bringing the fleet back to a full 12 trains.

Disney Builds New Monorail Train From Crash Remains. Central Florida 13, 10/16/09.

CA/NV Maglev group fights on (10/03/09)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Just as it was beginning to look bleak for the proposed maglev between Southern California and Las Vegas, it seems that maglev proponents are now gaining some momentum. Earlier this year Senate majority leader Harry Reid dumped his longtime support for maglev in favor of a steel rail proposal known as DesertXpress. The DesertXpress proposal would use 150 mph trains and travel between Las Vegas and the desert community of Victorville, California. The maglev, based on Transrapid technology, can operate at speeds of 310 mph and would link Las Vegas with Anaheim, California. DesertXpress would require passengers to find their own way between the populated areas and the desert. The maglev would have stations in Anaheim and at Ontario International Airport. Representatives of the American Magline Group, which wants to build the maglev, have stated they will forge ahead despite the competition. Neil Cummings, president of American Magline, said, "If somebody has a choice between 300 mile-an-hour travel between Anaheim and Las Vegas or an hour and 40 minute (trip) between Las Vegas and Victorville and then get a taxi or hitch a ride or whatever you do, I’m pretty sure we’d win a competition. In theory, even if DesertXpress gets built, I’d have no problem building our train alongside it and put them out of business.”

Maglev in the running. Las Vegas Sun, 09/30/09.
Maglev company vows to steam on. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 09/29/09
Maglev developers forging ahead regardless of rival project. Las Vegas Sun, 09/28/09

California-Nevada Super Speed Train Project website
DesertXpress website

Sao Paulo Monorail project progresses (09/23/09)
Sao Paulo, Brazil. The City of Sao Paulo is quickly moving towards the implementation of a major monorail network. Three lines are being planned, with construction slated to begin on the first phase in 2010. An astounding 100 kilometers of monorail alignment are proposed. Three familiar monorail manufacturers are interested in supplying the system, Bombardier of Canada, Hitachi of Japan and Scomi of Malaysia. All of the monorail lines will be integrated with the city's extensive rail system. When completed, they are expected to transport in excess of one million passengers per day.

Projeto prevê 100 km de monotrilhos na capital. Agora, 08/23/09

Daegu picks 'streamlined' (09/21/09)
Daegu, South Korea. The citizens of Daegu have selected their favorite train design from three choices. The three designs were presented to Daegu by Hitachi, the builders of the Daegu Monorail, which is slated to open in 2014. All three designs presented were new from Hitachi and included: 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.' #2, the 'streamlined' design, is the winner! Subway passengers, merchants near subway stations and college students majoring in design were invited to take part in the decision. .

#2 - The Winner!XXXXXXX

Ho Chi Minh City wants rail (09/11/09)
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. HCM City is three times larger than Singapore, yet it no rail transit whatsover. Singapore, on the other hand, has 138 kilometers of rail. With worsening traffic clogging the streets, government officials are anxious to establish rail lines, including subway and monorail. One subway line is currently under construction and is due to open in 2014, yet isn't expected to reduce much of the traffic woes. Studies are under way on additional subway lines, as well as a monorail network. A contract for a first monorail is under negotiation with a contractor. That line would connect District 1, 5 and the under-construction Western Region Bus Station.

Council urges rapid action on monorail. VNS, 09/11/09.

6000! (09/01/09)
Fremont, California. Twenty years after its founding, The Monorail Society (TMS) continues to grow. As of today, membership surpassed 6,000 members! Member #6,000 heard about The Monorail Society and joined as a result of listening to Imagineering My Way's recent podcast interview of Founder/President Kim Pedersen. TMS enjoys a diversity of members from around the world, including professionals and fans alike. Thanks to all members for taking the time to join us. As a reminder, members of The Monorail Society are welcome to join our Monorail Society Discussion Group and/or receive TMS News E-mail Updates. If you haven't already, you can join The Monorail Society here. It's still free and easy!

Bahrain Monorail project on hold (08/30/09)
Manama, Bahrain. A major monorail project was originally scheduled to open in 2011 on the borderless Middle East island country of Bahrain. Economic woes have now resulted in the delay of numerous transportation projects, including a planned 29 km monorail system. Studies on the monorail system were supposed to have been finished by the end of this year, but they never were even started. Due to the uncertainty of the economy officials are not making any guesses as to when the various transportation projects will be back on track, including monorail, light rail and roads. The Bahrain Works Ministry is looking at various options to get private investment help to fund the road and rail projects.

Riyadh Monorail (08/21/09)
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A consortium led by Saudi Binladin Group has been awarded a $400 million monorail project for for Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University for Women in Riyadh. Saudi Binladin Group is teamed up with Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan. Other bidders for the project were Saudi Oger (with Canada's Bombardier); 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. The monorail project includes an 11-km system linking facilities at the university. The project is expected to take three years to complete.

09/07/09: New reports now indicate that the winning bid was actually made up of the team of Saudi Binladin Group with consortium partners Ansaldo STS and Ansaldo-Breda, subsidieries of Italy's Finmeccanica Group. Stay tuned as more facts come in.

Chinese-developed maglev progresses (08/11/09)
Beijing, China. China is developing an urban maglev monorail system with targeted top speeds of up to 120 kph. A prototype train has been going through extensive runs at Tangshan Test Base. The test train has already accumulated over 30,000 kilometers of travel on the test track. Wang Gang, director of the Information Center under the Beijing Municipal Committee of Transport, has stated that Beijing should have its first passenger-carrying maglevs by 2015. While the technology has advanced to a stage where it is ready for use, developers are now working on ways to reduce energy consumption for the maglev.

Prototype Chinese maglev monorail has familiar looking design lines

Qom Monorail construction begins (08/03/09)
Qom, Iran. As we reported in July, monorail activity in Iran has picked up in very short order. Qom Monorail is now reportedly under construction, making it the second major monorail to begin construction after Tehran. The first phase of the Qom Monorail will consist of six kilometers of track with five stations. It will link the northeastern part of the city with the grand mosque in the center of the city. The cost is approximately $120 million ($20 million/km) and will take approximately 30 months to complete. After expansion, the system will total out to 25 kilometers and 17 stations. New to monorail manufacturing, the project is headed up by International Kish Control Mechanic Company (IKCM).

Iran cuts ribbon of Qom monorail system. Press TV, 08/03/09.

Computer-generated monorail and High Speed Rail at proposed Anaheim multi-modal station

Anaheim still considering monorail (08/02/09)
Anaheim, California. As we reported in January of 2008, Anaheim's Mayor Curt Pringle would like to see a monorail connecting a proposed multi-modal rail station with the Disney Resort. Pringle then stated that the proposal was a priority of his administration. Since then the City of Anaheim has selected a design for the station, and is now seeking input from the public on the connector system to the Disney Resort. At meetings this week, it was explained that the proposed 3.5-mile loop system could be either Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Automated Peoplemover (APM) or monorail. Improving the existing bus service is also a possibility, but going elevated is preferred to avoid additional traffic problems in the area. Possible strikes against the monorail are: 1) are there funds to be found to actually build the statewide HSR system and/or will NIMBYs kill the project, 2) Parsons Brinckerhoff/HOK are the design architects and engineers for the HSR station, and 3) Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA) is involved in the project. Sources tell us that if this first proposed segment is built and proves to be successful, it could be the backbone of an expanded Orange Counties transit system. Both Parsons Brinckerhoff and OCTA have been vigorously pro-light rail. So, enjoy the monorail art renderings while they last, it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Anaheim considering monorail to get people to Disney Resort. OC Register, 07/27/09.
Anaheim approves PB/HOK for design of ARTIC. Anaheim website, 05/27/09.

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