Cable Car Monorails

Cable-driven monorails are relatively rare. We are aware of three, two of which are hill-climbers and one is a horizontal tourist shuttle. Essentially, Cable Car Monorails are made up of monorail guideways, yet they are propelled by cables driven by power units in stations. There are a variety of cable-driven shuttles, often confused with monorail. One example of a non-monorail cable shuttle is Cable Liner by DCC Doppelmayr Cable Car of Wolfurt, Austria. Cable Liner tracks are dual-guideway in nature, supported by a non-monorail lattice work of steel support guideways.


The oldest existing Cable Car Monorail is the Dresden Suspension Railway in Dresden, Germany. It opened in 1901 and connects the Loxchwitz and Oberloschwitz districts. The line is 274 meters long and supported by 33 pylons. It was designed by Eugen Langen, famous for designing the Wuppertal Schwebebahn. The monorail track/wheel configuration matches the double-flanged wheel system of Wuppertal, but the Dresden system climbs at a 39.2% grade at 2.5 meters per second with the aid of a cable, driven by an electric motor.

One of two angle-shaped cars climbs above Dresden and the Elbe River.


Mud Island Monorail is a suspended horizontal guideway monorail. The cable monorail connects the center of Memphis with Mud Island River Park. The shuttle opened on July 3, 1982 and is suspended beneath a pedestrian bridge over the Wolf River Lagoon. Two suspended Swiss-supplied Von Roll 'trains' negotiate a 518-meter long bridge. The cars are driven by a 1,067-meter long cable, with both cars simultaneously shuttling back and forth on parallel tracks between the Front Street Terminal in downtown and the Mud Island Terminal. Each car has a maximum capacity of 180 passengers and travels at 11.3 km/h.

Mud Island Monorail shuttle beneath a pedestrian bridge.


The Skyrail Midorizaka Line is a hill-climbing cable monorail line near Hiroshima, Japan. The line itself opened on August 28, 1998. The system was developed by Kobe Steel, Ltd. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Unique to the Midorizaka cable monorail is that it features numberous curves as well as grade changes along the route. Passengers ride driverless gondola-sized cars, suspended from a single I-Beam steel track, propelled by an attached cable. Cars can climb steep slopes of up to 15° gradients. Departures are approximately every ten minutes. A ride takes five minutes from Midoriguchi to Midorichuo.

Skyrail Midorizaka cable monorail climbs away from Midoriguchi Station, which connects with Seno Station on the Sanyo Main Line.

Skyrail graphic courtesy of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd & Kobe Steel, Ltd.


/ back to Technical Home Page