Monorail
Overview
 
A monorail is a rail-based transportation system based on a single rail, which acts as its sole support and its guideway. The term is also used variously to describe the beam of the system, or the vehicles traveling on such a beam or track. The term originates from joining the words mono (one) and rail, from as early as 1897, possibly from German engineer Eugen Langen
Eugen Langen
Eugen Langen was a German entrepreneur, engineer and inventor, involved in the development of the petrol engine and the Wuppertal monorail. In 1857 he worked in his father's sugar factory, JJ Langen & Söhne, after an extensive technical training at the Polytechnic institute in Karlsruhe.-Otto and...

 who called an elevated railway system with wagons suspended the Eugen Langen One-railed Suspension Tramway (Einschienige Hängebahn System Eugen Langen).
Encyclopedia
A monorail is a rail-based transportation system based on a single rail, which acts as its sole support and its guideway. The term is also used variously to describe the beam of the system, or the vehicles traveling on such a beam or track. The term originates from joining the words mono (one) and rail, from as early as 1897, possibly from German engineer Eugen Langen
Eugen Langen
Eugen Langen was a German entrepreneur, engineer and inventor, involved in the development of the petrol engine and the Wuppertal monorail. In 1857 he worked in his father's sugar factory, JJ Langen & Söhne, after an extensive technical training at the Polytechnic institute in Karlsruhe.-Otto and...

 who called an elevated railway system with wagons suspended the Eugen Langen One-railed Suspension Tramway (Einschienige Hängebahn System Eugen Langen). The transportation system is often referred to as a railway.
Colloquially, the term "monorail" is often used erroneously to describe any form of elevated rail or peoplemover. In fact, the term solely refers to the style of track, not its elevation.

Differentiation from other transport systems

Monorail systems have found shared applications in the transportation market in airport transfer and some medium capacity metro systems. To differentiate monorail systems from other transport modes, the Monorail Society further clarifies the definition of a monorail such that the beam in a monorail system is narrower than the vehicle.

Similarities

Monorails are often but not exclusively elevated, sometimes leading to confusion with other elevated systems such as the Docklands Light Railway
Docklands Light Railway
The Docklands Light Railway is an automated light metro or light rail system opened on 31 August 1987 to serve the redeveloped Docklands area of London...

, Vancouver SkyTrain and the JFK AirTrain. Monorail vehicles are often at first glance similar to other light rail
Light rail
Light rail or light rail transit is a form of urban rail public transportation that generally has a lower capacity and lower speed than heavy rail and metro systems, but higher capacity and higher speed than traditional street-running tram systems...

 vehicles, and can be both manned and unmanned. Monorail vehicles can also be found in singular rigid format, articulated single units, or as multiple units coupled into 'trains'. In common with other advanced rapid transit
Bombardier Advanced Rapid Transit
Advanced Rapid Transit or ART is the current name given to a rapid transit system manufactured by Bombardier Transportation. The original versions look like small subway cars that typically run in two-, four- or six-car trains, but the latest versions are more streamlined two-car articulated...

 systems, some monorails are driven by linear induction motor
Linear induction motor
A linear induction motor is an AC asynchronous linear motor that works by the same general principles as other induction motors but which has been designed to directly produce motion in a straight line....

. In common with many dual rail systems, the vehicle bodies are connected to the beam via bogies, allowing curves to be negotiated.

Differences

Unlike some trams and light rail
Light rail
Light rail or light rail transit is a form of urban rail public transportation that generally has a lower capacity and lower speed than heavy rail and metro systems, but higher capacity and higher speed than traditional street-running tram systems...

 systems, modern monorails are always partitioned from other traffic and pedestrians. Monorails are both guided and supported via interaction with the same single beam, in contrast to other guided systems such as Rubber-tyred metro
Rubber-tyred metro
A rubber-tyred metro is a form of rapid transit system that uses a mix of road and rail technology. The vehicles have wheels with rubber tyres which run on rolling pads inside guide bars for traction, as well as traditional railway steel wheels with deep flanges on steel tracks for guidance through...

s, such as the Sapporo Municipal Subway
Sapporo Municipal Subway
The is an underground rapid transit system in Sapporo, Hokkaidō, Japan. It is operated by the Sapporo City Transportation Bureau.-Lines:The system has 3 lines; the first, the Namboku Line, was opened in 1971 prior to the 1972 Winter Olympics.-Technology:...

; or guided bus
Guided bus
Guided buses are buses steered for part or all of their route by external means, usually on a dedicated track. This track, which often parallels existing roads, excludes other traffic, permitting the maintenance of reliable schedules on heavily used corridors even during rush hours.Guidance systems...

es or trams, such as Translohr
Translohr
Translohr is a guided bus system manufactured by Lohr Industrie of France. It is used in Clermont-Ferrand, Tianjin, Padua and in the mainland Mestre district of Venice in Italy. Translohr runs on rubber tires and is guided by a single central rail....

. Monorails also do not use pantographs
Pantograph (rail)
A pantograph for rail lines is a hinged electric-rod device that collects electric current from overhead lines for electric trains or trams. The pantograph typically connects to a one-wire line, with the track acting as the ground wire...

.

Maglev

Under the Monorail Society beam width criteria, some but not all maglev systems are considered monorails, such as the Transrapid
Transrapid
Transrapid is a German high-speed monorail train using magnetic levitation. Based on a patent from 1934, planning of the Transrapid system started in 1969. The test facility for the system in Emsland, Germany was completed in 1987...

 and Linimo
Linimo
, formally the is a magnetic levitation train line in Aichi, Japan, near the city of Nagoya. While primarily built to serve the Expo 2005 fair site, the line is still operating to serve the local community.Linimo is owned and operated by...

. Maglevs differ from all other monorail systems in that they do not (normally) physically contact the beam.

History


Early years

The first monorail was made in Russia in 1820 by Ivan Elmanov
Ivan Elmanov
Ivan Kirillovich Elmanov was a Russian inventor. In 1820 he created a "road on pillars" , a kind of monorail located in Myachkovo village, near Moscow. That was the first known monorail in the world, however the carriages were horse-drawn, and the wheels were set on the pillar structure, not on...

. Attempts at creating monorail alternatives to conventional railways have been made since the early part of the 19th century. The earliest patent was taken out by Henry Palmer
Henry Robinson Palmer
Henry Robinson Palmer was a British civil engineer who designed the world's first monorail system and the first elevated railsystem...

 in the UK in 1821, and the design was employed at Deptford Dockyard in South-East London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, and a short line for moving stone from a quarry
Quarry
A quarry is a type of open-pit mine from which rock or minerals are extracted. Quarries are generally used for extracting building materials, such as dimension stone, construction aggregate, riprap, sand, and gravel. They are often collocated with concrete and asphalt plants due to the requirement...

 near Cheshunt
Cheshunt
Cheshunt is a town in Hertfordshire, England with a population of around 52,000 according to the United Kingdom's 2001 Census. It is a dormitory town and part of the Greater London Urban Area and London commuter belt served by Cheshunt railway station...

, Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England. The county town is Hertford.The county is one of the Home Counties and lies inland, bordered by Greater London , Buckinghamshire , Bedfordshire , Cambridgeshire and...

 to the River Lea. The Cheshunt line is notable as it was the world's first monorail to carry passengers, as well as the first railway line to be opened in Hertfordshire.

Around 1879 a "one-rail" system was proposed independently by Haddon and by Stringfellow, which used an inverted "/\" rail. The system was intended for military use, but was also seen to have civilian use as a "cheap railway."

Early designs centred on use of a double-flange
Flange
A flange is an external or internal ridge, or rim , for strength, as the flange of an iron beam such as an I-beam or a T-beam; or for attachment to another object, as the flange on the end of a pipe, steam cylinder, etc., or on the lens mount of a camera; or for a flange of a rail car or tram wheel...

d single metal rail alternative to the double rail of conventional railways. Wheels on this rail would both guide and support the monorail car. A surviving suspended version is the Wuppertal monorail. Into the 1900s, Gyro monorail
Gyro Monorail
The gyro monorail, gyroscopic monorail, gyro-stabilized monorail, or gyrocar are terms for a single rail land vehicle that uses the gyroscopic action of a spinning wheel, to overcome the inherent instability of balancing on top of a single rail....

s, with cars gyroscopically balanced on top of a single rail, were tested, but never developed beyond the prototype stage. The Ewing System
Ewing System
The Ewing System was a system for balancing monorails developed by British inventor W. J. Ewing in the last part of the 19th century. The Ewing System places wheels of the train on that a single steel rail. The system had been proposed in 1868 by William Thorold, a civil engineer from Norwich,...

, used in the Patiala State Monorail Trainways
Patiala State Monorail Trainways
Patiala State Monorail Trainways was a unique rail guided, partially road-borne railways system running in Patiala in the State of Punjab from 1907 to 1927.Unusual railways by Mr. J. R. Day and Mr. B. G...

 in Punjab
Punjab (India)
Punjab ) is a state in the northwest of the Republic of India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The state is bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast and Rajasthan to the southwest as well as the Pakistani province of Punjab to the...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, relies on a hybrid model with a load-bearing single rail and an external wheel for balance. One of the first systems put into practical use was that of French engineer Charles Lartigue, who built a monorail line between Ballybunion and Listowel in Ireland, which was opened in 1888 and closed in 1924 (due to damage from Ireland's Civil War). The Lartigue system uses a load-bearing single rail and two lower, external rails for balance, the three carried on triangular supports.

Possibly the first monorail locomotive was a 0-3-0
0-3-0
-History:This most unusual wheel arrangement was only used for specialised monorails.-Listowel and Ballybunion Railway:The Lartigue Monorail locomotives used on the Listowel and Ballybunion Railway were of 0-3-0 wheel arrangement, although they also required non-load-bearing guide wheels...

 steam locomotive
Steam locomotive
A steam locomotive is a railway locomotive that produces its power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning some combustible material, usually coal, wood or oil, to produce steam in a boiler, which drives the steam engine...

.

1900s-1950s

A highspeed monorail using the Lartigue system
Lartigue Monorail
The Lartigue Monorail system was developed by the French engineer Charles Lartigue . He developed a horse drawn monorail system invented by Henry Robinson Palmer in 1821 further....

 was proposed in 1901 between Liverpool and Manchester.

In 1910, the Brennan monorail was considered for use to a coal mine in Alaska.

The first half of the 20th century saw many further proposed designs, that either never left the drawing board or remained as short lived prototypes. One of the first monorail systems planned in the United States was in New York City in the early 1930s. But the monorail was scrubbed instead for an elevated train system.

1950s-1980s

In the later half of the 20th century, monorail designs had settled on using larger beam or girder based track, with vehicles supported by one set of wheels and guided by another. These designs featured vehicles supported, suspended or cantilevered from the beams. In the 1950s the ALWEG
ALWEG
Alweg was a transportation company known for pioneering straddle-beam monorails.-History:Alweg was founded by Swedish industrial magnate Dr. Axel Lennart Wenner-Gren in January 1953 as Alweg-Forschung, GmbH , based in Fühlingen, Germany, a suburb of Cologne...

 straddle design emerged, followed by an updated suspended type, the SAFEGE
SAFEGE
SAFEGE is an acronym for the French consortium Société Anonyme Française d' Etude de Gestion et d' Entreprises and is pronounced SAY-fij in English....

 system. Versions of ALWEG's technology are currently used by both of the two largest monorail manufacturers Hitachi Monorail
Hitachi Monorail
The Hitachi Monorail System refers to the family of monorails offered by Hitachi, Ltd.-List of notable Hitachi monorails:Hitachi's designs are ALWEG-based, and are available in three configurations:-Large:*Kitakyushu monorail, opened 1984...

 and Bombardier
Bombardier Transportation
Bombardier Transportation is the rail equipment division of the Canadian firm, Bombardier Inc. Bombardier Transportation is one of the world's largest companies in the rail-equipment manufacturing and servicing industry. Its headquarters are in Berlin, Germany....

.

During this period, major monorails were installed at Disneyland
Disneyland Monorail System
The Disneyland Monorail System is an attraction and transportation system at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, USA...

 in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World Monorail System
The Walt Disney World Monorail System is a public transit system in operation at the Walt Disney World Resort.The Walt Disney World Resort currently operates twelve Mark VI monorail trains on three lines of service. The monorail system opened in 1971 with two routes and with Mark IV monorail trains...

 in Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, Seattle
Seattle Center Monorail
The Seattle Center Monorail is an elevated monorail line in Seattle, Washington, that runs a little over one mile along Fifth Avenue from Westlake Center in Downtown to Seattle Center in Lower Queen Anne...

, Japan
Monorails in Japan
-Currently operational:*Chiba Urban Monorail : Chiba, Chiba, 1988.*Disney Resort Line: Urayasu, Chiba, 2001.*Kitakyūshū Monorail: Kitakyūshū, Fukuoka, 1985.*Okinawa Monorail : Naha, Okinawa, 2003....

, and many other locations. Monorail systems were also heavily promoted as futuristic technology with exhibition installations and amusement park purchases, as seen by the number of legacy systems in use today. However, monorails gained little foothold compared to conventional transport systems.

Niche private enterprise uses for monorails emerged, with the emergence of air travel
Air travel
Air travel is a form of travel in vehicles such as airplanes, helicopters, hot air balloons, blimps, gliders, hang gliding, parachuting or anything else that can sustain flight.-Domestic and international flights:...

 and shopping mall
Shopping mall
A shopping mall, shopping centre, shopping arcade, shopping precinct or simply mall is one or more buildings forming a complex of shops representing merchandisers, with interconnecting walkways enabling visitors to easily walk from unit to unit, along with a parking area — a modern, indoor version...

s, with many shuttle type systems being built.

Perceptions of monorail as public transport

From 1950 to 1980 the monorail concept may have suffered, as with all public transport systems, from competition with the automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

. Monorails in particular may have suffered from the reluctance of public transit authorities to invest in the perceived high cost of un-proven monorails when faced with cheaper mature alternatives. There were also many competing monorail technologies, splitting their case further.

This high cost perception was challenged most-notably in 1963, when the ALWEG consortium proposed to finance the construction of a major monorail system in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, in return for the right of operation. This was turned down by the city authorities in favour of no system at all, and the later subway system has faced criticism as it has yet to reach the scale of the proposed monorail.

Several monorails initially conceived as transport systems survive today on revenues generated from tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

 usage, benefitting from the unique views offered from the largely elevated monorail installations.

Recent history

From the 1980s onwards, with the rise of traffic congestion and urbanization, monorails have experienced a resurgence in interest for mass transit usage, notable from the early use by Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 and now Malaysia. Tokyo Monorail
Tokyo Monorail
, officially the , is a monorail system connecting Haneda Airport in Ōta, Tokyo, Japan, to Hamamatsuchō Station in Minato, Tokyo. The trains operate along an elevated line that follows the coast of Tokyo Bay. The trip from the airport to Hamamatsuchō costs ¥470 each way.-History:The line opened in...

, the world's busiest monorail line, averages 127,000 passengers per day and has served over 1.5 billion passengers since 1964. Monorails have also seen continuing use in niche shuttle markets, as well as amusement parks.

Modern mass transit monorail systems have settled on developments of the ALWEG beam and tyre approach, with only two suspended types in large use. Monorail configurations have also been adopted by maglev train
Maglev train
Maglev , is a system of transportation that uses magnetic levitation to suspend, guide and propel vehicles from magnets rather than using mechanical methods, such as friction-reliant wheels, axles and bearings...

s.

Types and technical aspects

Modern monorails depend on a large solid beam as the vehicles' running surface. There are a number of competing designs divided into two broad classes, straddle-beam and suspended monorails.

The most common type of monorail in use today is the straddle-beam monorail, in which the train straddles a reinforced concrete
Reinforced concrete
Reinforced concrete is concrete in which reinforcement bars , reinforcement grids, plates or fibers have been incorporated to strengthen the concrete in tension. It was invented by French gardener Joseph Monier in 1849 and patented in 1867. The term Ferro Concrete refers only to concrete that is...

 beam in the range of two to three feet (~0.6-0.9 m) wide. A rubber
Rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...

-tire
Tire
A tire or tyre is a ring-shaped covering that fits around a wheel rim to protect it and enable better vehicle performance by providing a flexible cushion that absorbs shock while keeping the wheel in close contact with the ground...

d carriage contacts the beam on the top and both sides for traction and to stabilize the vehicle. The straddle-beam style was popularized by the German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 company ALWEG
ALWEG
Alweg was a transportation company known for pioneering straddle-beam monorails.-History:Alweg was founded by Swedish industrial magnate Dr. Axel Lennart Wenner-Gren in January 1953 as Alweg-Forschung, GmbH , based in Fühlingen, Germany, a suburb of Cologne...

.

The French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 company SAFEGE
SAFEGE
SAFEGE is an acronym for the French consortium Société Anonyme Française d' Etude de Gestion et d' Entreprises and is pronounced SAY-fij in English....

 offers a monorail system in which the train cars are suspended beneath the wheel carriage. In this design the carriage wheels ride inside the single beam. The Chiba Urban Monorail is presently the world's largest suspended monorail network.

There is also a historical type of suspension monorail
Suspension railway
A suspension railway is a form of elevated monorail where the vehicle is suspended from a fixed track , which is built above street level, over a river or canal, or an existing railway track.-Palmer System:...

developed by German inventors Nicolaus Otto and Eugen Langen in the 1880s. It was built in the twin cities of Barmen and Elberfeld in Wupper Valley, Germany, opened in 1901, and is still in operation.

Power

Almost all modern monorails are powered by electric motor
Electric motor
An electric motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy.Most electric motors operate through the interaction of magnetic fields and current-carrying conductors to generate force...

s fed by dual third rail
Third rail
A third rail is a method of providing electric power to a railway train, through a semi-continuous rigid conductor placed alongside or between the rails of a railway track. It is used typically in a mass transit or rapid transit system, which has alignments in its own corridors, fully or almost...

s, contact wires or electrified channels attached to or enclosed in their guidance beams. However, diesel-powered monorail systems also exist.

Magnetic levitation

Magnetic levitation train
Maglev train
Maglev , is a system of transportation that uses magnetic levitation to suspend, guide and propel vehicles from magnets rather than using mechanical methods, such as friction-reliant wheels, axles and bearings...

 (maglev) systems by the German Transrapid
Transrapid
Transrapid is a German high-speed monorail train using magnetic levitation. Based on a patent from 1934, planning of the Transrapid system started in 1969. The test facility for the system in Emsland, Germany was completed in 1987...

 were built as straddle-type monorails, as they are highly stable and allow rapid deceleration from great speed. When in full-speed operation maglev trains hover over the track and are thus not in physical contact with it. The maglev is the fastest train of any type
Land speed record for railed vehicles
Determination of the fastest rail vehicle in the world varies depending on the definition of "rail".Official absolute world record for conventional train is held by the French TGV...

, the experimental JR-Maglev
JR-Maglev
JR-Maglev is a magnetic levitation train system developed by the Central Japan Railway Company and Railway Technical Research Institute . JR-Maglev MLX01 is one of the latest designs of a series of Maglev trains in development in Japan since the 1970s...

 having recorded a speed of 581 km/h (361 mph). The commercial Shanghai Maglev Train
Shanghai Maglev Train
The Shanghai Maglev Train or Shanghai Transrapid is a magnetic levitation train, or maglev line that operates in Shanghai, China. It is the first commercially operated high-speed magnetic levitation line in the world...

 has run at 501 km/h (311 mph).

There are also slower maglev monorails intended for urban transport, such as Japan's Linimo
Linimo
, formally the is a magnetic levitation train line in Aichi, Japan, near the city of Nagoya. While primarily built to serve the Expo 2005 fair site, the line is still operating to serve the local community.Linimo is owned and operated by...

 (2003).

Switching

Some early monorail systems (notably the suspended monorail of Wuppertal
Wuppertal
Wuppertal is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in and around the Wupper river valley, and is situated east of the city of Düsseldorf and south of the Ruhr area. With a population of approximately 350,000, it is the largest city in the Bergisches Land...

 (Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

), dating from 1901 and still in operation) have a design that makes it difficult to switch from one line to another. Some other monorail systems avoid switching as much as possible, by operating in a continuous loop or between two fixed stations, as in Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Seattle is the county seat of King County, Washington. With 608,660 residents as of the 2010 Census, Seattle is the largest city in the Northwestern United States. The Seattle metropolitan area of about 3.4 million inhabitants is the 15th largest metropolitan area in the country...

.

Current operating monorails are capable of more efficient switching than in the past. In the case of suspended monorails, switching may be accomplished by moving flanges inside the beamway to shift trains to one line or another.

Straddle-beam monorails require that the beam structure itself be moved to accomplish switching, which originally was an almost prohibitively ponderous procedure. Now, however, the most common way of achieving this is to place a moving apparatus on top of a sturdy platform capable of bearing the weight of vehicles, beams and its own mechanism. Multiple-segmented beams move into place on rollers to smoothly align one beam with another to send the train in its desired direction, with the design originally developed by ALWEG capable of completing a switch in 12 seconds. Some of these beam turnouts are quite elaborate, capable of switching between several beams or even simulating a railroad double-crossover.

In cases where it must be possible to move a monorail train from one beam to any of a number of other beams, as in storage or repair shops, a traveling beam not unlike a railroad transfer table
Transfer table
A transfer table, also called a traverser , is a piece of railroad equipment. It is similar in function to a turntable, though it cannot be used to turn equipment around. The table consists of a single length of track which can be moved from side to side, in a direction perpendicular to the track...

 may be employed. A single beam, at least long enough to carry a single monorail vehicle, is aligned at an entry beam to be mounted by the monorail cars. The entire beam then rolls with the vehicle to align with the desired storage beam.

Advantages and disadvantages

Advantages

  • The primary advantage of monorails over conventional rail systems is that they require minimal space, both horizontally and vertically. Monorail vehicles are wider than the beam, and monorail systems are commonly elevated, requiring only a minimal footprint for support pillars.
  • A monorail track is usually less expensive to build than a comparable elevated conventional rail line of equal capacity.
  • Due to a smaller footprint, they are seen as more attractive than conventional elevated rail lines and block only a minimal amount of sky
    Sky
    The sky is the part of the atmosphere or outer space visible from the surface of any astronomical object. It is difficult to define precisely for several reasons. During daylight, the sky of Earth has the appearance of a pale blue surface because the air scatters the sunlight. The sky is sometimes...

    .
  • Monorail is, by design, a grade-separated system. They do not interfere with existing transport modes.
  • They are quieter, as modern monorails use rubber wheels on a concrete track (though some non-monorail subway systems, like certain lines of the Paris Métro
    Paris Métro
    The Paris Métro or Métropolitain is the rapid transit metro system in Paris, France. It has become a symbol of the city, noted for its density within the city limits and its uniform architecture influenced by Art Nouveau. The network's sixteen lines are mostly underground and run to 214 km ...

     and all of the Montreal metro
    Montreal Metro
    The Montreal Metro is a rubber-tired metro system, and the main form of public transportation underground in the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada....

     and Mexico City metro
    Mexico City Metro
    The Mexico City Metro , officially called Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, is a metro system that serves the metropolitan area of Mexico City...

    , use the same technique and are equally quiet)
  • Unlike conventional rail systems, straddle monorails wrap around their track and are thus not physically capable of derailing, unless the track itself suffers a catastrophic failure.
  • Rubber-tired monorails are typically designed to cope with 6% grade.

Disadvantages

  • Monorail vehicles are not compatible with any other type of rail infrastructure, which makes (for example) through services onto mainline tracks impossible.
  • Monorail tracks do not easily accommodate at-grade intersection
    At-grade intersection
    An at-grade intersection is a junction at which two or more transport axes cross at the same level .-Traffic management:With areas of high or fast traffic, an at-grade intersection normally requires a traffic control device such as a stop sign, traffic light or railway signal to manage conflicting...

    s.
  • In an emergency, passengers may not be able to immediately exit because an elevated monorail vehicle is high above ground and not all systems have emergency walkways. The passengers must sometimes wait until a rescue train, fire engine
    Fire apparatus
    A fire apparatus, fire engine, fire truck, or fire appliance is a vehicle designed to assist in fighting fires by transporting firefighters to the scene and providing them with access to the fire, along with water or other equipment...

     or a cherry picker
    Cherry picker
    A cherry picker , is a type of aerial work platform that consists of a platform or bucket at the end of a hydraulic lifting system.- Design :...

     comes to the rescue. Newer monorail systems resolve this by building emergency walkways alongside the entire track, at the expense of visual intrusion. Suspended railways resolve this by building aircraft-style evacuation slide
    Evacuation slide
    An evacuation slide is an inflatable slide used to evacuate an aircraft quickly. An escape slide is required on all commercial aircraft where the door sill height is such that, in the event of an evacuation, passengers would be unable to "step down" from the door uninjured An evacuation slide is...

    s into the vehicles. Japanese systems use the next train to tow broken down trains to the next station, but this has yet to occur.
  • Turnouts
    Railroad switch
    A railroad switch, turnout or [set of] points is a mechanical installation enabling railway trains to be guided from one track to another at a railway junction....

    , especially at high speeds, may be marginally more difficult compared to conventional railway points, although certainly not impossible.
  • Monorail infrastructure and vehicles are often made by separate manufacturers, with different manufacturers using incompatible designs.

Nomenclature

Older references to monorails may call them "one-rail railways" or "single-rail railways".

Records

  • Busiest monorail line: Tokyo Monorail
    Tokyo Monorail
    , officially the , is a monorail system connecting Haneda Airport in Ōta, Tokyo, Japan, to Hamamatsuchō Station in Minato, Tokyo. The trains operate along an elevated line that follows the coast of Tokyo Bay. The trip from the airport to Hamamatsuchō costs ¥470 each way.-History:The line opened in...

    , 311,856 passengers daily (2010 weekday average)
  • Largest monorail system: Chongqing Rail Transit (Line 2 & 3), 34.65 km
  • Longest maglev monorail line: Shanghai Maglev Train
    Shanghai Maglev Train
    The Shanghai Maglev Train or Shanghai Transrapid is a magnetic levitation train, or maglev line that operates in Shanghai, China. It is the first commercially operated high-speed magnetic levitation line in the world...

    , 30.5 km
  • Longest straddle-beam monorail line: Osaka Monorail, 21.2 km
  • Largest suspended monorail system: Chiba Urban Monorail, 15.2 km

See also

  • Slope car
    Slope car
    A is a small automated monorail, or a fusion between monorail, people mover, and rack railway. It is a brand name of Kaho Manufacturing. Since this mode of transportation is relatively unknown, it lacks widely accepted generic name, other than the simple "monorail". The system, however, is...

  • Transrapid
    Transrapid
    Transrapid is a German high-speed monorail train using magnetic levitation. Based on a patent from 1934, planning of the Transrapid system started in 1969. The test facility for the system in Emsland, Germany was completed in 1987...

  • Bennie Railplane
    Bennie Railplane
    The Bennie Railplane was a form of rail transport invented by George Bennie , which moved along an overhead rail by way of propellers. Despite superficial appearances, it was not a monorail, as it used both an overhead running rail and a guide rail below...

  • Monorail plan for the Los Angeles River, California

Monorails in general


Monorail advocacy groups

  • 2045 Seattle - a grassroots movement that supports the construction of rapid transit monorail in Seattle, WA
  • Austin Monorail Project - a non-profit advocating monorail transit for Austin, TX
  • The Monorail Society - an all-volunteer organization founded to foster more awareness and promote this unique method of transportation

Organizations/views opposing monorails

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