News Briefs Archives
January 9, 2005 - March 19, 2005

News Brief Archives

 

Technology switch in Jakarta? (3/19/05)
Jakarta, Indonesia. Money woes in Jakarta may lead to Hitachi losing another major monorail contract outside of Japan. According to a Jakarta Post story, the Jakarta administration is unwilling to get involved with financing the project. However, the government has said that it would probably provide fare subsidies to keep ticket prices affordable for Indonesian citizens. PT Jakarta Monorail had asked the city government for $60 million as an "equity injection," and for an annual subsidy of $20 million for a period of eight years. The technology issue was discussed by City Secretary for Development Affairs, Hari Sandjojo. Sanjojo told the Jakarta Post that the $650 million Hitachi technology is "too expensive for us. It would be better for us to look for other technologies that are cheaper." They are reportedly looking at cheaper technologies from South Korea and China. This would be the second technology switch on the project. Earlier, Malaysia's MTrans lost out on the project because of differences over administration demands to build two line simultaneously. That's when Hitachi was turned to for the project. Earlier this month PT Jakarta Monorail said that it would speed up construction, but little progress has been evident since groundbreaking. Despite all the reported turmoil of the project, both the company and administration are claiming the project will stay on schedule.

City may subsidize monorail fares. Jakarta Post, 3/19/05.

 

Last run of Von Roll monorail on Sentosa Island (3/16/05)
Sentosa Island, Singapore. After twenty-three years of dutifully carrying passengers, the Sentosa Island Monorail made its last run on Tuesday night. The train's driver announced, "Everybody sit tight, the last monorail journey will be departing." The 6.4 km loop had six stations on the resort island. The Von Roll-built monorail will be replaced another system called the Sentosa Express. The Sentosa Express is a concrete beam monorail that will connect Sentosa to the Harbour Front MRT station within six minutes. Construction is under way for the new monorail, which will feature the first Hitachi Small monorail trains. Since the announcement of the old monorail's closure was made last week, ridership doubled as people came for one last ride. One driver said the monorail is "really old and we have to give it a rest. Quite a lot of people who came to Sentosa will miss this train very much; I can feel it from the bottom of my heart."

Sentosa's monorail makes final journey after 23 years. Channel Asia News, 3-16-05.

 

DestiNY USA project includes monorail plan (3/7/05)
Syracuse, New York. Another fanciful hi-tech "resort of the future" is being planned, and this time the location is Syracuse, New York. The plans are grandiose, yet many people and companies are showing faith in the concept by lining up to participate. DestiNY USA expects to draw in excess of 20 million visitors annually. The massive resort will included 150 acres of enclosed green park space. Green is a key word, in that plans call for DestiNY USA to operate entirely free of fossil fuels. Competing consortiums of leading energy companies will provide the power for DestiNY USA. The transportation plan includes an automated parking structure for 50,000 cars, as well as a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system and monorail to connect with Hancock International Airport. In December of 2004 DestiNY USA closed on a loan of nearly $700 million to be used for the first stage. Additional financing is currently underway. Opening of phase one is slated for 2007.

DestiNYUSA website

 

Monorail information sought for Tehran (3/7/05)
Tehran, Iran. Attention monorail manufacturers, yet another city is considering monorail and wants detatiled information! The Monorail Society (TMS) has received several communications from Rail Transportation Industries (RTI) of Tehran, Iran regarding monorail. The company was set up in 2001 to implement several rail projects for Iran. One of those projects is monorail systems for the traffic-choked city of Tehran. RTI is currently seeking information from monorail manufacturers to help plan for these sytems. For further information please contact:

M.R. Mohammadbagher
Managing Director& Member of Board
Rail Transportation Industries
9th Floor, Nasr10 Building, Mahestan Street,
Iranzamin Avenue, Shahrak Gharb
Tehran, Iran 14658 31135

email: info@rti-gc.com

 

Jakarta Monorail money troubles (3/4/05)
Jakarta, Indonesia. Barely after ground has been broken, the Jakarta Monorail has run into financial problems. Monorail builder PT Jakarta Monorail asked the city to guarantee its loan repayments, to give it an annual subsidy worth $20 million for seven to eight years and also asked the city to pay $60 million into the project as equity. They also wanted to charge vehicles driving along the monorail corridors using and electronic system. City officials rejected the requests on Thursday, saying that they would burden the people. Two monorails lines were to be built in Jakarta, worth US $650 million. The first line would be 14.3 kilometers long. Hitachi Monorail is the selected technology. Under the current agreement, the monorail project is entirely a privately funded enterprise. Jakarta Monorail Director Ruslan Diwirjo said the government assistance is needed to convince potential investors that the project is receiving full support from the Indonesian administration. Discussions are continuing between monorail and government officials.

City Council stalling monorail over money. Jakarta Post, 3/4/05.

 

Pressure mounting for Seattle Monorail Project (3/2/05)
Seattle, Washington. Restless in Seattle! That could be a title for a movie, but right now it's a description of the current atmosphere in Seattle monorail circles. The Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) received a sole bid from Cascadia Monorail in August of 2004, and from that point forward the agency and Cascadia have been quiet as to details regarding ongoing negotiations. Now that six months have passed, many are wondering if progress is being made or if the project is in trouble. News reports of cost difficulties, efforts to increase tax monies for the project, accusations of excessive spending by SMP, unhappiness with the secrecy of the negotiations, and a recent highly publicized showing of interest by Team Monorail for a reopening of the bid process have all added to an atmosphere of "what the heck is going on with the monorail?" In a recent statement, SMP says "It's important to remember that negotiating the Design Build Operate Maintain (DBOM) contracts for the Monorail Green Line is inherently complex and time-consuming." The statement points out that Cascadia Monorail is an international team of about 30 companies and that "Multi-party negotiations means that progress is sometimes slower than we'd like even though the negotiations are proceeding as they should." Be that as it may, anxiety levels of monorail backers continue to increase and monorail detractors are seizing the opportunity to spread more criticisms about the project.

Questions and Answers about Green Line Negotiations. Seattle Monorail Project, 2/25/05.
Cascadia Monorail website (Hitachi technology)
Team Monorail website (Bombardier technology)

 

Munich Transrapid project one step closer. (3/2/05)
Munich, Germany. Europe is one step closer to being the next continent with a Transrapid maglev monorail system. German Rail (DB) has applied to the German Federal Railway Authority (EBA) for planning approval for the 37 kilometer line that would link Munich's main station with the city's international airport. The step includes submitting documentation for the first two of a total of five line sections. According to officials, this marks a decisive step in DB's plans to implement the project. DB head Hartmut Mehdorn says, "The route between Munich's main station and its airport is perfect for a maglev system, and growth in the region and expansion of the airport provide ideal conditions for a profitable maglev service. We will now commence in-depth planning and, at the same time, start negotiations with the industry to ensure continuation of the project. These results are decisive to its implementation." Processing normally takes around 18 months, final permission to build the maglev line should be granted sometime during 2006.

Munich airport connector website
TMS Maglev Monorail Page

 

Durban moves forward on monorail. (2/23/05)
Durban, South Africa. Several years ago The Monorail Society (TMS) reported a plan for monorail in the port city of Durban, South Africa. Not much has been heard since, but recent government pronouncements indicate that the city is still seeking to build a people mover system. The line would link Durban tourist attractions such as uShaka Marine World, Suncoast Casino and the Durban International Convention Centre. The idea has popular support from all political parties on the council. Hotels on the beachfront are also promising to subsidize the line. Suncoast Casino has already pledged R70 million towards the construction of the system, estimated to cost R220 million. A local survey found that 51% of people interviewed prefer a monorail system as opposed to 9% for a surface "road train." Different technologies are being assessed in an effort to find a system that can be built for R23 million per kilometer.

People-mover plan takes step forward. Independent Online, 2/23/05.
Durban official website

 

Spectacular new Transrapid proposals (2/20/05)
Berlin, Germany. German-developed Transrapid Maglev Monorail technology is gaining more backers and believers as each week goes by. Some proposals garner noticeable attention, while others quietly gain momentum behind the scenes. One very-public proposal came to light this week in the United Kingdom. Going by the name Ultraspeed UK Project, the proposal was given extensive coverage by the press as the Ultraspeed website premiered. The proposal is for a line to run from London to the north, stopping at major cities on its way to Scotland. Prime Minister Tony Blair is said to give approval for studies for maglev, having been impressed by experts at a recent seminar at Downing Street. Backers suggest that because the United Kingdom has not invested in conventional high-speed rail as its neighbors in mainland Europe, they have the opportunity to leapfrog into the future with the latest and faster technology. Another proposal for Transrapid came to light this week, this one for the Middle East. A spokeswoman for Transrapid International said that a feasibilty study will look into an amazing 800-kilometer maglev line from Bahrain to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) via Qatar. A memorandum of understanding on the maglev study could be signed when German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visits the region within two weeks. Conventional high-speed rail is also in the running for the link. Meanwhile, Shanghai's Transrapid maglev continues to operate successfully, proving the technology's capabilities to anyone considering high-speed rail. Transrapid maglev monorails are capable of speeds of over 500 kph (300 mph).

UK Ultraspeed Project website
Ultraspeed proposal video. BBC 2 video news feature, 2/17/05. Requires Realplayer, excellent 15 minute feature (forward to 30 minute mark in video).
300mph train for north-south link. The Guardian, 2/18/05.
Transrapid to study Gulf rail link. Transrapid to study Gulf link, 2/15/05.
Transrapid International website
Transrapid USA website
The Monorail Society Maglev Monorail Pages

 

Another Metrail proposal in India. (2/17/05)
Chandigarh, India. Metrail India Private Limited is proposing a monorail system for the tricity area of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali. A light rail system has been under consideration by government officials, but monorail monorail proponents point out that monorail would increase the capacity of transit along the line, rather than diminish it by taking up surface space. Metrail is a state-of-the-art monorail system using hybrid motors and a completely new bogie configuration. Since electric power is generated entirely onboard the trains, expensive electrical subsystems and track infrastructure aren't required. One monorail train creates about the same amount of pollutants as a four-passenger automobile, yet a two-car train system can carry five to ten thousand passengers per hour. A test track is located in Malaysia and featured in The Monorail Society's DVD Monorails of Malaysia. During a presentation to government officials, Zafar Saifullah, Chairman for Metrail India, pointed out that Metrail would cost approximately $10.3 million per kilometer vs. $48 million per kilometer for a surface rail system.

Monorail answer to city's traffic problems? Chandirgarh Newsline, 2/16/05.
The Monorail Society's Metrail Photo Essay in Special Features
Metrail Website

 

Konya Chamber wants monorail. (2/16/05)
Konya, Turkey. The Konya Chamber of Industry recently contacted The Monorail Society (TMS) in an effort to gain more information on monorails. Seyfi Suna, EIC Head Office Manager for the Chamber, tells us they are very interested in establishing a monorail for public transport in the city. Konya is one of the biggest cities in Turkey, with over one million inhabitants living in the city center. The city currently has an old trolley system. Suna says "We propose monorail because it will give a perfect aesthetic appearance to the city and we are confident that as an industrial city, we will be in a position to manufacture most of the system by ourselves." They are currently in the research and feasibility study phase. The Chamber recently acquired the popular TMS DVDs, Monorails of Japan and Monorails of Malaysia as part of their research effort. Suna says they are now awaiting responses from manufacturers of monorails they've contacted through the TMS Manufacturer Page. Monorail manufacturers, they would like to hear from you soon!

Konya Chamber of Industry website

 

Seattle contract talks continue. (2/16/05)
Seattle, Washington. Contract talks between the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) and Cascadia Monorail began six months ago today. Cost-cutting efforts have been under way to help make the project come to fruition. The Seattle Times is reporting that Cascadia Monorail's bid came in around $200 million higher than expected. The public debt for the 14-mile project is limited to $1.5 billion. The SMP doesn't want to return to voters for additional funds, so they are reportedly cutting back on items such as extravagant stations. Contract talks are being held in private, so details of Cascadia's proposal have not been revealed yet. One monorail board member is expressing concern over the final look of the project. Cindy Laws told the Times that she is disappointed by aspects of the design and thinks the public might also be disappointed as well. Team Monorail, the Bombardier-led consortium that dropped out of the bidding process before the deadline last year, has recently expressed a desire to be part of a suggested reopening of the bid. A spokesman for Team Monorail says that the group can build the Green Line for close to the original cost estimate. Cascadia Monorail executive Six Silva says more time is needed to finish the contract because the monorail is an extraordinarily complex project. Cascadia's team includes Hitachi, Washington Group International and Fluor Enterprises.

Monorail bid tops projection by $200M. Seattle Times, 2/16/05.

  4,000! (2/3/05)
Fremont, California. The Monorail Society (TMS) reached yet another milestone this week with the addition of our 4,000th member. Members of the sixteen-year old organization are made up of a diverse mix of professionals, promoters, inventors and fans. Interestingly, member #4,000 is the manager of a Chamber of Industry in a major city in Europe/Asia. He tells us that his organization is interested in establishing a monorail system in the city. They are currently in the start-up and feasibility study phase and have found The Monorail Society website to be informative. The chamber is purchasing TMS DVDs to gain further information on monorails (available in the Monorail Store). Thanks to you, the members of TMS, we continue to grow and spread the good word on monorail!
 

Short circuit in Las Vegas. (2/3/05)
Las Vegas, Nevada. The Las Vegas Monorail was shut down for a mechanical problem on Wednesday for the fourth time since first opening in July of 2004. The system was closed for 13 hours as a result of a short circuit on a 30-foot section of the busbar just north of the Las Vegas Hilton station. The glitch was discovered before the normal opening time of 7:00 AM. Service resumed at about 7:40 PM. Las Vegas Monorail spokesperson Todd Walker said "This is something that occurs on all electrically powered transportation systems. As we become more experienced with operating the system and dealing with this type of event, this sort of event will be far less of a problem." Cause for the short circuit has not been determined yet.

Monorail halted again by glitch. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 2/3/05.
Testing process may have led to excessive monorail wear.  Las Vegas Sun, 2/3/05.
Will struggling monorail end up in taxpayers' lap? Las Vegas Mercury, 2/3/05.

 

No federal funds for Las Vegas extension. (1/27/05)
Las Vegas, Nevada. The rough start up of the Las Vegas Monorail may have prevented downtown from getting a 2.3-mile extension soon. Federal authorities have told Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) officials that they won't fund the downtown leg this year. According to Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, "Unfortunately, because of the breaks they've had in the beginning, they haven't been able to demonstrate reliability to justify funding." However, Las Vegas Monorail spokesman Todd Walker said, " Nothing is finalized until it's finalized, you can't rule anything in and anything out." The extension would run north from Sahara Station to a new station near the Fremont Street Experience in downtown, with three stops along the way. The RTC has already received a $22 million federal grant, which was spent on preparatory work for the extension. Mayor Goodman and downtown businesses were hoping the monorail extension would help with the revitalization of the area, which in recent decades has been overshadowed by the rapid growth and success of "the Strip," which sits outside of city boundaries. The first 4-mile segment was built using private grants and more than $400 million in bonds. Farebox revenue was to be used to repay a $143 million taxpayer-funded loan for the extension, along with a $178 million federal grant.

Funding denial puts monorail extension in doubt. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/27/05.
U.S. Won't Fund Vegas Monorail Extension. Las Vegas Sun, 1/26/05.
The Monorail Society Las Vegas Monorail page (includes map of extension proposal)

 

Maglev extension approved in China? (1/26/05)
Beijing, China. According to various Chinese news sources, the government of China has approved the construction of a US$3.6 billion extension of the Shanghai Maglev. The Transrapid maglev from Pudong International Airport to Shanghai will be extended by 170 kilometers and will be jointly funded by the central Chinese and local governments. The system will be extended to Hangzhou. The current Shanghai Maglev operates at speeds up to 430 kph (270 mph) and has garnered much attention from other government officials around the world interested in high-speed connections between cities. The success of Transrapid in China enhances the chances of similar systems being built elsewhere. Construction could begin this year and completion is planned for 2009.

Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed railway approved. Xinhua online, 1/26/05.
Transrapid website
Transrapid USA website

1/28/05. Reports are now coming out denying an agreement for the extension. Which Chinese reporters do we believe?

Maglev report stopped in its tracks. Xinhua online, 1/27/05,

 

Tire blast injures three on KL Monorail. (1/22/05)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Three members of a family were injured when a defective tire exploded on the Kuala Lumpur Monorail. The train had just pulled out of the Chow Kit Station when the blast happened under their monorail seat. A woman suffered injuries on her leg, while her daughter and daughter's friend received injuries to their hands. A statement from the driver said "The tire burst caused a rubber sidewall to flap and hit the side cover of the seat resulting in the leg injury to a passenger on the seat." An investigation is under way.

Burst tyre, believed to be defective, cause of monorail blast on Friday. The Star, 1/22/05.
KL Monorail incident: 'Fault lies with a burst pneumatic tyre. New Strait Times, 1/22/05.


New train for Team Monorail


Bombardier train with walk-through.
(art renderings courtesy of Team Monorail)

 

Bombardier not giving up on Seattle. (1/18/05)
Seattle, Washington. In a recent letter to Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) board members, Denis Bouvette, Vice President of Bombardier's Total Transit Systems Division, wrote "we are suggesting that SMP re-visit the current procurement, reissue or modify the RFP with the changes we are suggesting, and invite Cascadia and Team Monorail to submit proposals." Bouvette went on to say that Team Monorail withdrew from the competition last year because "our sureties were unwilling to allow us to accept the joint and several liability required in the RFP documents. And second, the last set of major changes that SMP had made through the RFP addenda combined to require additional time to complete the proposal." To up the ante in their effort to be brought back in to the project process, Team Monorail has also revealed more details of their proposal on a recently revamped website. Their futuristic-looking M-series trains now incorporate walk through trains with a walkway located to one side of the bogie compartment between cars. Bouvette's letter also emphasizes that the drive train problems of the Bombardier M-VI trains in Las Vegas have been successfully corrected and that ridership has been strong since reentering service. That said, Team Monorail states that Seattle trains would have a "completely different bogie and drive train design." The SMP has been negotiating with Hitachi's Cascadia Monorail since the fall of 2004.

Team Monorail Website (Bombardier)
Cascadia Monorail Website (Hitachi)
Seattle Monorail Project

 

Colorado I-70: state says highway, not monorail (1/13/05)
Denver, Colorado. Colorado transportation officials are sticking to their belief that a high-speed monorail is not the way to solve highway congestion from Denver to Vail. Their vision is for more pavement, by widening Interstate 70 through the busy mountain corridor. Last month the state released a draft environmental review that favors widening I-70, while rejecting both a high-speed monorail or a conventional rail line as too costly. In the first of ten public hearings on the I-70 mountain corridor study, almost 200 people showed up Wednesday to voice their opinion. Most of them favored monorail and said CDOT's idea to widen the highway will be outdated when completed by 2025 as proposed. A plan for a Colorado High-Speed Monorail using inverted-T rail technology lost steam when Colorado voters turned down money for a test track in 2002. That proposal was described derogatorily as a "Disneyland ride" by Governor Bill Owens, which helped sway voters against the ballot measure.

Monorail: State not on board. Denver Post, 1/13/05.
Colorado Monorail website
http://www.coloradomonorail.com/


"The Venetian bypass"
Harrah's/Imperial to Sands Ave.

 

CES in LV: riders, riders riders! (1/9/05)
Las Vegas, Nevada. As predicted, the Consumer Electronics Show is testing the Las Vegas Monorail to the limit. The good news is that the monorail is passing the test with flying colors. One impressed conventioneer told KVBC TV's reporter Alex Savidge "It's crowded, but it's fast, the doors open, people know what to do and how to do it, and the ticketing is easy. I would buy stock in that company!" Since the monorail started collecting fares two weeks ago, over one-half million tickets have been sold. During the show they are averaging around 50,000 riders per day, so many that they are now dispatching all nine trains along the four-mile line. That's 50,000 people not getting on congested streets in air-polluting taxis or buses. "The monorail running is definitely making a dent in a very busy traffic flow pattern," said Erika Yowell, a spokeswoman with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Hotels that backed the monorail are now seeing the benefit, as more and more people become aware of where the stations are. Staff at hotels where owners vehemently fought the development of the monorail, such as the Venetian Resort, are having to tell their guests by the thousands they need to go elsewhere to get on board. As many in The Monorail Society predicted, visitors to Las Vegas are starting to book hotels with easy access to the system.

Conventioneers boost monorail receipts. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/8/05.
Las Vegas Monorail adds more trains to handle convention crowds (online video). KVBC TV, 1/8/05.

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