Why Not Monorail?


As a child growing up in the 50s, I was always facinated during the intro of the Sunday evening Disney program by the futuristic-looking sight of monorails whisking tourists through a fantasy park. But is that really just the stuff of science fiction?

After happening across “Monorails were a great idea in 1902…” I followed a link to The Monorail Society‘s site, and I have to say that there’s lots there to think about.


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One Response to “Why Not Monorail?”

  1. truthwalker Says:

    Something I’ve always been annoyed by is the Monorail Society refusal to look at monorails as part of the overall context of railway technology. Monorail is a special type of rubber tired narrow gauge. It has all the technological advantages and limitations of such. It’s advantages:
    great adhesion allowing aggressive gradients, rapid acceleration and braking, and tight turns, and (unique to monorails) total grade separation. As such it is ideal for restricted urban corridors.

    The Monorail Society is little less honest about the limitations (which, to be fair, are universal among rubber tired and narrow gauge hardware). Namely, reduced volume of mass produced parts resulting in more expensive rolling stock, lower efficiencies due rubber tires on flat sections rather than steel wheels on T-rail, intermodal seperation, and the expense of maintaining total grade separation.

    Their use of Japan as evidence of monorail profitability is also a bit weak. Japan’s socio-geological uniqueness (high population density in mountainous terrain) creates ideal situations for monorails. Also, Japanese studies have found that profitable passenger dedicated ways (monorail or passenger rail) requires about 10,000 passengers per hour on average, numbers hardly available in the US at all.

    In the end monorails are great when their form matches their function, but they aren’t quite the mass transit silver bullet the MonoSoc would lead people to believe.

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