News Briefs Archives
September 26, 2004 - January 4, 2005.

News Brief Archives

 

New Year's Eve success in Las Vegas. (1/4/05)
Las Vegas, Nevada. The Las Vegas Monorail, which reopened on December 24, carried a record number of passengers on New Year's Eve. Estimates are that around 50,000 people rode between 8 AM on New Year's Eve and 3 AM New Year's Day. After a rough 2004, due to a 107-day shutdown, the monorail seems to be getting back on its feet. "The system operated extremely well, it couldn't have gone any better for us." said Todd Walker, the monorail spokesman. Firsthand reports indicate that both locals and visitors were taking advantage of the system to avoid reveler-clogged streets. A lot of people accessed the system in the final hours before midnight at the Sahara and Hilton stations, which have large parking lots. As planned, the system shut down briefly between between 11:45 PM and 12:15 AM while the fireworks show took place along the length of the Strip. Heavy rains have also challenged mobility in the Las Vegas Valley during the first days of the monorail's return. However, the monorail has continued to operate smoothly, as cars have stalled and were towed from flooded streets below. The next big milestone for the monorail will be the Consumer Electronics Show at the Convention Center, starting Thursday. It is one of the largest annual trade shows and conventioneers are expected to take advantage of the quick link to area hotels and the Strip.

Las Vegas Monorail: Holiday operation satisfies officials. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/4/05.
Overhauled monorail enjoys a busy New Year's Eve.  Las Vegas Sun, 1/4/05.
Las Vegas Monorail website

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Las Vegas Monorail re-opens! (12/24/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Visitors and residents of Las Vegas are receiving a Christmas present this week. The Las Vegas Monorail re-opens for business today, and rides will be free through December 28th! The long-awaited return of the system follows intensive testing known as recommissioning. Monorail officials said Clark County granted the approvals necessary to allow Bombardier Transportation, the company contracted to build and operate the monorail, to resume operating the 4-mile transportation system along the east side of the Las Vegas Strip. The monorail will re-open its seven stations simultaneously starting at 10 AM today.  Hours of operation are from 8 AM to 2 AM daily, except on New Year's Eve, when it will run until 3 AM.  Welcome back Las Vegas Monorail and please...have a Happy New Year!

Las Vegas Monorail website
Las Vegas Monorail gets go-ahead for restart today. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12/24/04.
Las Vegas Monorail good-ol'-boy approach continues with Henderson rail. Las Vegas Mercury, 12/22/04.

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Metrail proposed for Bangalore (12/18/04)
Bangolore, India. A proposal for a monorail system in Bangalore, India was presented to the Karnataka government by a consortium of Metrail, Frazer Nash and Malaysia and Sundaram Architects on Thursday . The group touted Metrail's ability to be in place in a much shorter time than competing modes of transit. The system would be implemented in two phases, the first of which would include approximately 36 km of guideway with 38 stations. If built, it would be India's first major monorail system, as well as the world's first hybrid technology monorail system. Metrail was developed by Frazer-Nash of the United Kingdom and tested in full-scale in Malaysia. The Monorail Society's Monorails of Malaysia DVD features exclusive footage of the Metrail test track. Gordon Dixon, Director of Regional Operations for Frazer-Nash, told officials that the Metrail monorail runs at a low voltage and the body is built with modern technology. As a result of this and the hybrid technology, it would be much cheaper than any other transit systems to operate. The consortium is promoting the system on a build, own and transfer basis and is confident that it would be a profit-making monorail.

Kolkata company eyes monorail for Bangalore. The Statesman, 12/18/04.
Pollution-free answer to Tech City's traffic woes? The Times of India, 12/18/04.
Metrail website

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Seattle is a monorail town again! (12/16/04)
Seattle, Washington. Monorail Red resumed passenger-carrying services today! Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and Santa Claus were in the front seat today for the re-opening of the Seattle Center Monorail. Monorail Red carried them from Seattle Center to Westlake Center, running red lights and racing past buses just like it has since 1962. The system was shut down because of a fire on Monorail Blue on May 31. Monorail Blue continues to be refurbished for a Spring return, but for now a newly rewired and upgraded Monorail Red will carry the load. "We've completely rewired the high voltage system, we've installed fireproofing, we've installed heat detection," said Tom Albro with Seattle Monorail Services. TMS congratulates Seattle Monorail Services on completing the challenging work of identifying problems to be solved and then solving them. Great to have you back!

Monorail is back on the move again. KOMO TV, 12/16/04.
The old monorail rides again. Seattle P-I, 12/17/04.

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2005 APM Conference to feature rare tour. (12/14/04)
Orlando, Florida. The 2005 Automated People Movers Conference is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing/inviting conferences to monorailists yet. The event is hosted every two years by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). It will be taking place in Orlando, Florida on May 1st through the 4th, 2005. Over 80 technical papers/presentations will be featured. Technical sessions will include one dedicated specifically to monorails. Tours will be given of the Orlando Airport APM System and the International Blvd. alignment in which APM/monorail has been proposed. Last but not least, an extremely rare opportunity to tour the Walt Disney World Monorail System and Maintenance Facility is being offered to attendees of the conference. Monorail manufacturers represented at the conference will include Bombardier and Hitachi. Thanks to Bob Griebenow of Berger/ABAM for sharing this exciting news.

2005 APM Conference website

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Las Vegas testing continues. (12/14/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Clark County engineers continue to inspect the trains of the Las Vegas Monorail. The engineers are determining which trains will be part of the "recommissioning" process, which may begin Wednesday. Each train must operate 1,000 to 2,000 trouble-free round trips on the system before being cleared for public use, each trip being an eight-mile journey. The system is designed to have seven trains running during normal operations. No official estimations for an opening date are being made at this point, yet if tests go well it may be within a few weeks.

Final battery of tests slated for LV Monorail. Las Vegas Sun, 12/14/04.
Bombardier looking to stem monorail, personnel woes. Las Vegas Sun, 12/14/04.

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Seattle Center Monorail to run by Christmas. (12/9/04)
Seattle, Washington. Monorailists are rejoicing as Seattle's classic 1962 Alweg monorail will once again carry passengers down 5th Avenue. Tom Albro, spokesman for Seattle Monorail Services, says the resumed service is "going to be the train set under Seattle's Christmas tree." The Blue Train sustained $700,000 in damage from a fire on Memorial Day. The Red Train will carry the load initially when service resumes within a couple of weeks. The Blue Train is slated to resume operations in the Spring of 2005. Retailers at both ends of the line are anxious to see the monorails begin running again, as their businesses have suffered significant drops in income without it. The Red Train has had its electrical system rebuilt; heat detectors installed and interiors have been improved with fire-retardant materials. Insulation was also installed on the undercarriage to prevent similar grounding that started the fire. The Seattle Center and Seattle Monorail Services are sharing the approximately $2.5 million cost of repair and upgrades. The one-mile monorail is expected to run a couple more years before it is retired and replaced by the 14-mile Green Line monorail. Monorailists are advised to head for Seattle during this time for what may be a last chance to ride the only remaining Alweg-built monorail trains in the world.

Monorail to restart before Christmas. Seattle P-I, 12/9/04.

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New drive shaft angle fixes Las Vegas trains, but... (12/8/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Problems that closed the Las Vegas Monorail in September seem to boil down to drive shafts installed at a wrong angle. They were installed slightly upright at an angle of 5.7 degrees, which caused more stress on them while the Bombardier M-VI trains negotiated the tight turns of the new 4-mile monorail system. The angle has been changed to 1.8 degrees on all nine trains and the stress problem seems to have gone away. Six trains have been running with the fix almost problem-free. Officials believe that re-commissioning could take place soon. Full-scale testing must take place before passengers begin boarding again, but there is optimism that opening could take place before 300,000 New Year's Eve revelers invade Las Vegas. If so, this would also mean the system would be available for the Consumer Electronics Show starting January 6th. That convention is one of Las Vegas's largest of the year. On the other hand, late today KLAS TV reported that the monorail has had another part drop from a train.  The station reports that it fell off the monorail during test runs on November 28 between the Sahara and Hilton stations. Bombardier spokeswoman Kathryn Nickerson said "Bombardier completed a full inspection of all the trains h-back units to make sure this does not happen again." Nickerson wants "...not even bubble gum falls off the train."

Exclusive Investigation: More monorail problems. KLAS TV, 12/8/04.
Progress Being Made on Las Vegas Monorail.
KVBC TV, 12/7/04.
Monorail officials optimistic system will be back on track. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12/8/04.

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Moscow Monorail open for "passenger tests." (11/27/04)
Moscow, Russia. TMS member Anton A. Chigrai tells us that the Moscow Monorail opened on November 20th to the public for "passenger test" rides. Opening day weather was -5 Celcius, the wind was blowing, a snowstorm was under way and the snow level was 15-20 cm. Anyone care to ask "can monorails operate in snow?" The fare is 50 rubles for adults and 25 rubles for students. Two trains are currently online. Departures are every 30 minutes, but boarding is only available at Eisenshteina Station during the sneak preview period. Eisenshteina Station is the east terminus near the VVTs exhibition center. It is possible to exit at any station however. Regular all-station service with six trains is slated to begin in January, 2005.


Opening day ticket. Photo courtesy of Anton A. Chigrai.

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Station rendering courtesy of Chongqing Metro

 

Chongqing Monorail offers preview rides. (11/14/04)
Chongqing, China. The Chongqing Monorail is now offering excursion rides on a portion of the 17.4 km long system. Four round preview trips are run every Saturday and Sunday using two four-car trains. Several news sources have reported the rides as part of an "official inauguration," yet this is not the case. The excursion fare is 10 RMB per person ($1.20). Regular fares are expected to be lower when the official inauguration takes place, slated for June 28, 2005. The first two trains were supplied by Hitachi and the remaining fleet is being manufactured in China by CRC. The Chongqing government hopes that more trains will be available in time for an upcoming APEC conference (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) to be held in the city. The monorail system will be one of the most dramatic Alweg-type systems in the world, with15.2 kilometers of elevated guideway and 2.2 kilometers in subway tunnels. Three of seventeen stations on the line will be in subway sections.

Chongqing Monorail website (in Chinese and loads very slowly!)

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Seattle Center Monorail to run again. (11/12/04)
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Center Monorail has not operated since Monorail Blue suffered an enroute fire incident on May 31st. Consultants were brought in to investigate the fire and monorail officials have worked feverishly to come up with ways to upgrade the 1960's vintage monorail trains. Seattle Monorail Services General Manager Glenn Barney tells us that they are now moving from the paper-producing phase to actual hardware upgrades. For one, all new electrical wiring will be installed on the trains. If all goes well, Monorail Red may be ready to operate in time for the Christmas holiday season in December. The fire-damaged Monorail Blue would return to service sometime in 2005, perhaps by Spring. Since the monorail is slated for removal, if the Seattle Monorail Project Green Line is built, there had been doubt in some circles that it would ever operate again. Sources in the area tell us that the monorail hasn't always been appreciated by local retailers and businesses. The monorail has sometimes been sarcastically referred to as the "train to nowhere" or the "food court to food court train." Since the May closure, both Seattle Center and downtown businesses near the monorail have now seen business drop off, dramatically in some cases. The monorail is no longer a joke to them, it's a necessity! Barney said it's too early to announce a definitive date for reopening, that announcement will be made on their website when it is known. We'll keep you informed as well.

Seattle Center Monorail website
The Monorail Society Seattle Center Monorail Special Feature

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Hytran promotes upgraded Safege. (11/12/04)
Hinsdale, Illinois. The Monorail Society has added yet another firm to the Monorail Manufacturer Page. Hytran Transportation Corporation is currently pursuing the development of a 21st century version of the Safege suspended monorail system, first developed in France in the 1950s. Hytran plans to employ the GPS system (Global Positioning Satellite) with digital controls to provide for full real-time proximity sensing and complete redundant operations of accelerating and braking, doors and internal environment. Car vehicle components will utilize of aircraft technology fuselage design in order to achieve lightweight 60­70 passenger cars that weigh 10,000 pounds or less. Bogies will use digital AC/DC electric motors that are smaller in size, increased in torque and horsepower and are more efficient than those used on the original Safege test track. Hytran promoters see their monorail as ideal for transportation between airports, cities and economic hubs. They also believe that their trains could carry letters and small parcels, reducing truck traffic on the roads below. J. Michael Meissner, President of Hytran and an architect since 1972, heads a team of engineers and businessmen all hoping to make Hytran a reality in the near future.

Hytran website

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Las Vegas investigations continue. (11/10/04)
Las Vegas, Nevada. The Las Vegas Monorail first opened in July, but has been closed since September 8 and won't reopen soon. That's the word from officials at the Las Vegas Monorail Company. Spokesman Todd Walker says, "It's not opening anytime soon, you'll see full system testing before it opens." Bombardier, builder of the M-VI trains, has submitted preliminary findings of their investigation. Problems reportedly center on the drive train, which experienced excessive torque while rounding the tight curves. Because of the tight 90-degree turns needed to negotiate the alleys and roads behind the Las Vegas Strip, Bombardier completely redesigned the undercarriage of their M-VI monorail. Drive parts fell from trains in two separate incidents, prompting the closure. Another study is under way by Exponent, Inc, a disaster analysis firm. Once Bombardier, monorail officials and Clark County regulatory officials agree upon a fix, trains will be upgraded and tested thoroughly. Barring further problems, the system can then reopen. "Safety is our first priority. We will reopen the system only when we have the confidence that it will operate safely and reliably," said Cam Walker, president and chief operating officer of Transit Systems Management, the project's management firm.

Monorail to remain closed. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 11/9/04.
The Monorail Society Special Feature: Las Vegas Monorail Opening

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Moscow Monorail "soft opening" (11/10/04)
Moscow, Russia. The Moscow Monorail is slated to have a "soft opening" soon. The system will operate infrequently and be used for tours only. Moscow's first deputy mayor Pyotr Aksenov said, "There will be several trains a day. Muscovites and visitors using the line will be able to get a view from several meters above [ground], of the VVTs national exhibition centre, the Ostankino TV tower, the Ostankino park and the Sheremetyevskiy Dvorets (palace)." The excursion ride will cost 100 rubles (approximately $3.40). When the monorail opens as a public transit system a ticket is expected to be 50 rubles ($1.70). Monthly passes will be available. The monorail is Russia's first and is based on Intamin technology. The 4.7 km dual-tracked line runs from Timiryazeyskaya Metro station to the VVTs exhibition center.

Russia's first monorail set to open in Moscow. Mosnews, 11/11/04.

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Seattle monorail recall initiative fails. (11/2/04)
Seattle, Washington. If you don't think it's tougher to get monorail built than other transit systems, you haven't been following the Seattle story. Today Seattle citizens went to polls to decide the fate of the Seattle Monorail Project for the fourth time! They overwhelmingly said no to I-83, an initiative that would have blocked monorail from being built on Seattle streets. The Seattle Monorail Project has been in negotiations with Cascadia Monorail, the sole bidder for the project. Monorailists are celebrating tonight's victory as a nail-in-the-coffin for anti-monorail forces, especially in light of the mandate-strength percentage of votes to build the monorail.

Monorail still on track. Seattle P-I, 11/2/04.
Drive to recall monorail on the skids. Seattle Times, 11/2/04.
King County General and Special election results

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Monorail planned for Moon Bahamas (10/28/04)
Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas. The Government of The Bahamas has given developers official approval for an amazing offshore resort. Moon Bahamas will be a series of man-made islands said by promoters to be "the world's largest, most expensive, most exclusive and most spectacular resort and real estate development." Moon Bahamas is proposed to become the global central operations platform for future space tourism travel, a lofty goal. Those who remember Walt Disney's original concept for EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow), might find the art renderings on Moon Bahamas website familiar in concept with its fanciful space-themed and world's fair-like architecture. A monorail system is planned as a link to the airport, but details have not been released. 2010 is the target for opening for Moon Bahamas, if the extraordinary amount of capital needed for the project can be obtained. Feasibility studies are now under way.

MOON Bahamas website
MOON Bahamas-'All Systems Go.' Business Wire, 10/27/04.

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Megamall connection proposed for KL Monorail. (10/28/04)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This year, daily ridership on the new Kuala Lumpur Monorail is between 35,000 and 40,000 riders. Next year monorail operators expect a dramatic increase to between 60,000 and 80,000 daily riders. In addition to plans for a short extension to bring the southern terminal station closer to KL Sentral rail station, a 2 km shuttle line from the Tun Sambanthan station to Mid Valley Megamall is also being proposed. Mid Valley Megamall has more than 430 retail establishments on five and a half floors, and monorail operators believe ridership can be increased even further if a connection to the system was built. The proposed project is expected to cost RM30 million and would take a year to be completed. MTrans Holdings Sdn Bhd, owner of Monorail Malaysia, recently said it is involved in negotiating for monorail systems worth US $5 billion (RM19 billion) in twelve countries. Kuala Lumpur Monorail is prominently featured in Monorails of Malaysia, The Monorail Society's latest DVD production.

KLIG focuses on properties and monorail. The Edge Daily, 10/28/04.

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RECALL NO!!!

 

Three Seattle Newspapers urge no on recall. (10/20/04)
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Seattle Stranger have all endorsed a NO vote on Initiative 83, the so-called Monorail Recall. The Seattle Weekly is suggesting a vote for the recall, but admits that it is on shaky legal grounds and probably won't stop the monorail from being built. In their summation, the Post-Intelligencer editorial staff wrote, "Initiative 83 would outlaw monorails in Seattle. Voters have asked their leaders to move ahead with monorail rapid transit not once, not twice but three times. Three times it has been put to a public vote. Isn't it about time we got on board?" With less than two weeks left until the election, both pro-monorail and anti-monorail campaigns are shifting into high gear with yard signs, brochures and media ads. One Monorail Recall ad on TV and online features The Monorail Society (TMS) President Kim Pedersen's backyard Niles Monorail as an implied toy monorail that Seattle would get. Pedersen immediately directed a cease and desist demand letter to Monorail Recall leaders, stating that the photos are TMS property and copyrighted. "It really says something about the lack of integrity of Monorail Recall people that they would steal personal photographs, including images of my wife and children, and use it against something that I strongly support," Pedersen said. "They've ignored my demand to stop and obviously have an ends-justify-the-means attitude. I'm confident that this and other tactics they are using will backfire on them."

No to I-83: keep moving. Seattle P-I, 10/20/04.
Monorail Recall: bad public policy. Seattle Times, 10/8/04.
FLIP FLOP: Anti-monorail campaign does about-face. The Stranger, 10/14/04.

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Inductrack recognized for innovation. (9/28/04)
San Diego, California. R&D Magazine has recognized General Atomics and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) for their innovative, research and development of the "Inductrack Magnetic Levitation System." Each year the magazine recognizes the top 100 most technologically significant new products. The technology was originally invented at LLNL and is being further developed as part of the General Atomics Urban Maglev program. A full-scale, 120 meter (400-foot) long test track is nearing completion at General Atomics in San Diego, with a full-sized vehicle chassis and all associated power and control systems. Inductrack employs un-powered arrays of permanent magnets beneath the vehicle. When the train is in motion, the magnetic field from these permanent magnets generates levitation by interacting with a "track" made up of conductors assembled in an array that resembles a ladder with close-packed rungs. The next major steps envisioned in the development of the maglev technology will be full-scale testing, system demonstration, and deployment. Further information on Inductrack technology and other maglevs is available in the Monorail Society Maglev Monorail Technical Pages. Sam Gurol, General Atomics program manager, said, "Our studies show that this Maglev innovation offers many attractive benefits including the ability to operate in challenging terrain with steep grades and tight turns, all-weather operation, low maintenance, rapid acceleration, and more. However, one of the most significant attributes is its quiet operation, which enables completely elevated guideways, eliminating the need to tunnel underground for noise abatement. For many urban alignments, this can result in very significant cost savings over conventional transportation systems." Pending Federal funding and support, the team has selected California University located in California, Pennsylvania for a demonstration site for the technology. A General Atomics maglev system is planned to provide a link between the main campus and a sports complex.

General Atomics and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Win R&D 100 Award for Innovative Maglev Work. General Atomics website maglev page, 9/22/04.

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Tokyo Monorail is 40 years young. (9/26/04)
Tokyo, Japan. On October 10th of 1964, the Tokyo Olympics commenced. It was Asia's first Olympics and the Japanese were prepared for the world coming to their country. New expressways had been built, the famous Shinkansen Bullet Trains commenced their first service between Tokyo and Osaka, and less than a month before the Olympics, on September 17th, the Tokyo Monorail began revenue operations between Haneda International Airport and Hamamatsucho Station in the city. The Tokyo Monorail was Hitachi's first major monorail system, with technology based on Alweg technology developed in Germany, for which Hitachi had acquired a license in 1962. Forty years have now passed since this milestone monorail opened, and the system continues to impress the world. The 16.9 kilometer line carries an average of 137,900 daily riders and has carried well over one billion riders during the past 40 years. Ten stations are along the route and the ride from one end to the other takes about 22 minutes. Part of a very exclusive club in the world of transit, the Tokyo Monorail is one of the few mass transit systems that records a consistent profit without taxpayer subsidy. It also performs with over 99% reliability. Congratulations Tokyo Monorail and Hitachi! For outstanding information and beautiful views of the Tokyo Monorail, the Monorail Society offers Monorails of Japan, a two DVD set that includes onboard rides of the Tokyo Monorail, behind the scenes footage, and features all the major monorails of Japan.

Tokyo Monorail website (in Japanese)

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