News Briefs Archives
August 6 - December 15, 2006

News Brief Archives

Sentosa Express milestone (12/15/06)
Sentosa Island, Singapore. The Sentosa Express Monorail system was officially handed over to Sentosa Island officials by Hitachi Asia Ltd. in a recent ceremony. About 200 invited guests joined S. Iswaran, the Minister of State for Trade and Industry, on a preview ride from the mainland on to Sentosa Island. The monorail is a major part of Sentosa’s project to rejuvenate the resort into a world-class leisure destination. "As we redevelop and revamp the island in tandem with our customer-focused improvements, this new monorail will significantly improve Sentosa’s access from all corners of Singapore," said Darrell Metzger, Sentosa Island’s CEO. "Its completion marks our largest infrastructural project since 2002 when we started delivering our master plan vision to make the island more integrated and easily accessible." The 2.1-km system is the first Hitachi Small monorail and carries up to 3,000 passengers per hour in each direction. After a month of “ticketing trials,” the Sentosa Express will open to the public in January 2007.

Sentosa Express. Manila Bulletin, 12/16/06.

Extension permission for Las Vegas (12/7/06)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas Monorail officials were given great news yesterday. The County Commission granted them a land use permit which will allow them to extend the monorail system to McCarran International Airport. Funding will be provided by private investors for the four-mile extension. As planned, the new line won't take the quickest path to the airport. Several stops will be added along the way to pick up greater ridership, including stations at the Hard Rock Hotel and the Thomas & Mack Center arena complex. At the airport, stations will serve the main terminal and a new terminal under development.

County Commission: Monorail extension gets OK. Las Vegas R-J, 12/7/06.
Monorail given permit to extend to McCarran Airport. KVBC TV, 12/6/06.
Monorail needs line to remain on track. Las Vegas Sun, 12/4/06.

Tours use KL Monorail (11/21/06)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. TMS member Jane Rai loves riding the Kuala Lumpur Monorail. In fact, she uses it to commute to her job as Director of Product Development at Pacific World Destination East Sdn Bhd. It was one of those fun rides to work that gave her the idea to use the KL Monorail for tours of the city. So was born the "Kuala Lumpur Classic and Monorail Experience" tour, probably the first in the world to use an urban monorail system as an integral part of the tour. Featured on the tour are early sections of Kuala Lumpur such as oriental Chinatown and the Colonial settlements, as well as monorail rides to get a great views of the modern downtown. Rai says the monorail is "the best thing KL City could have and I see it as a strong tourism product. [I] Can't wait for the other pending projects at Putrajaya and Penang to complete!"

Pacific World Malaysia website
Kuala Lumpur Classic & Monorail Experience (164 kb pdf)
TMS Kuala Lumpur Monorail pictorial essay

ODU Maglev floats again (11/11/06)
Norfolk, Virginia. The troubled Old Dominion University maglev project got an unexpected boost last month. The maglev vehicle needed to be moved away from a new construction zone on the campus, so scientists decided to make a low-profile test to accomplish a move. The train was successfully levitated about a 1/2 inch above the guideway and moved down the graded guideway away from the construction area. It wasn't a full-blown test, however they were able to move it without the the bumps, rattles and vibrations that plagued initial tests. While the test did not involve propulsion and instead used gravity to move along the track, it was seen as a good step in rescuing the project. Nearby, the women's soccer time noticed the train's movement and cheered the success.

ODU's maglev train passes an unscheduled test. The Virginia-Pilot, 11/10/06.

Monorail and Maglev out of Oakland bidding (11/10/06)
Oakland, California. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Oakland Airport Connector has changed the bidding process. As a result, monorail and maglev are no longer vying for the project. Both Hitachi Monorail and HSST Maglev have left the process now that the system is going to be procured via Public Private Partnership (PPP). Hideo Inoue, Superintendent of Hitachi's Transportation System Sales Division, tells TMS that they have left the process because of the PPP process, "which we are less experienced" with. The 3.2-mile system will connect Oakland Coliseum Station with the Oakland International Airport. The only qualifying bidder technologies are now Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy, Mitsubishi and Bombardier. All three teams are proposing AGT systems that are essentially guided electric buses on massive cement guideways.

BART Oakland Airport Connector page

Seattle Center Monorail tries again (11/8/06)
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Center Monorail resumed operations today. To thank customers for their patience during the shut down, monorail rides will be free through Sunday, November 12th. To avoid problems suffered by the trains before the shut down period, trains will be limited to 200 passengers each. Departures are every ten minutes, or every five minutes dring special events.

Monorail could resume runs soon, with new limit of number of riders. Seattle Times, 11/7/06.

Report: Seattle Alwegs need more fixes (11/4/06)
Seattle, Washington. A report by Booz Allen Hamilton says the Seattle Center Monorail "is at or near the end of its useful service life." The report will be presented to Seattle's City Council on Monday. Mayor Greg Nickels is proposing to issue $4.5 million in bonds for major repairs to fix the system so that it can operate more reliably. The consultants are recommending that if service resumes, no more than 200 passengers should ride each train at any one time. The study found that stalls can occur when weighted-down trains cause power collectors to not stay in contact with the electric power rails on the beam sides. Numerous fixes are being recommended by Booz Allen Hamilton, the same company that helped the Las Vegas Monorail get over its technical glitches during its first year. Seattle Center officials are anxious to see the monorail return to service, as the monorail produces $400,000 in annual revenue for the center and brings more tourists to and from downtown.

Seattle's stalled monorail worn out, report says. Seattle Times, 11/4/06.
Center wants Monorail to roll. Seattle P-I, 11/4/06.

Seoul ends monorail plan (10/30/06)
Seoul, South Korea. It was to be the first MTrans monorail system outside of Malaysia, but South Korean government officials have scrapped plans for a 6.7 kilometer monorail system in Kangnam-gu. According to the Korea Times, monorail and elevated rail have been eliminated from plans because of concerns over costs and "strong resistance from residents." In February the ward office of Kangnam-gu had announced it would invest $200 million towards the system.

Seoul Scraps Plan for Monorails. The Korea Times, 10/12/06.

Portsmouth plan fizzles (10/12/06)
Portsmouth, United Kingdom. After having given monorail promoters six months to finalize their monorail plans, Portsmouth City Council members have ended hopes for the monorail by withdrawing support for the project. The monorail was first proposed by Amersham Holdings Ltd. back in 1998. The Intamin-technology monorail system would have transported up to 2,000 passengers per hour with stops at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Port Solent, Tipner, a ferry port, the city center and Portsmouth and Southsea rail station. Councilmember Alistair Thompson said, “Ever since I have been on the council, for the last six years, there has been talk about this magical monorail, but nothing has happened. It's a flight of fancy.” The £120 million plan relied on £70 million coming from developers in exchange for permission to build large developments around the city.

End of the line for monorail plan. Portsmouth.co.uk, 10/12/06.
Ambersham Holdings Ltd. website

Monorail for Beijing tourist area (10/3/06)
Beijing, China. According to People’s Daily, the Changping District in northern Beijing will be the next community in China to get monorail. A 20-kilometer monorail is being planned for Zhenggezhuang Village primarily as a tourist transit system for the Wendu Spa and Resort area. The area is close to the 2008 Olympic Village. Both residents and tourists will be able to use the monorail to go to work, school or shop. No fees are to be charged for rides on the system. Construction of the monorail is slated to begin next year with a completion date in 2008. Four-car trains will each have capacity for 120 passengers. Cost of the entire system is said to be less that $4 million (US). There is some question as to whether the monorail will actually be 20-kilometers in length, considering that it will be a slow speed, peoplemover-scale monorail at a very low comparative cost.

Monorail to bring benefits free of charge. People’s Daily, 10/3/06.

Moscow Monorail service increase (10/2/06)
Moscow, Russia. The Moscow Monorail opened in January of 2005, but service has limited to excursion travel without stops at many stations. All six station of the monorail are now open to the public. Milashenkov Street and Korolyov Street stations opened in September. At this point there are still only two trains on the 4.7 km line at a time, which makes for a 20-minute interval. The system currently operates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but rumor has it that closing will be extended to 11 p.m. in the next few months. Ticket cost is 50 rubles ($1.87), which is high compared to the 15 ruble cost ($.56) of a metro subway ticket. Earning the title of the coldest monorail in the world, last winter temperatures reached about -35C in Moscow, yet the monorail continued to operated without incident.

TMS Moscow Monorail Photo Essay

Transrapid suffers tragic accident (9/22/06)
Lathen, Germany. At least 23 people have been killed in maglev technology’s first fatal accident. A Transrapid test track train collided with a service vehicle on the Emsland test track. The train was traveling at 200 kilometers-per-hour when the accident occurred. Maintenance workers on the service vehicle and Transrapid train passengers were among the dead. Survivors suffered serious injuries and are at nearby hospitals. Firemen used ladders and aerial platforms to rescue the injured. The test track has been in operation since 1984.

High tech German train crash kills 23. Reuters UK, 9/22/06.

Abu Dhabi seeks "monorail" (9/13/06)
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. According to gulfnews.com, the City of Abu Dhabi is planning a 30 km-long monorail system. Abu Dhabi would be the second United Arab Emirates city to get monorail after Dubai, if the system is built. Ahma Al Hosani, an official with the city, said, "The project has been fully approved by the authorities and is projected for completion by 2020." Fifteen two-coach trains are being suggested for the new system. "Interval between each service will be five minutes. The track will extend along the semi-diameter of Abu Dhabi," said Hosani. The city has a population of approximately 350,000 residents. Tenders for the project are expected to be floated in 2007. Whether the system is truly a monorail project in technology or just referred to as one remains to be seen.

Abu Dhabi likely to float monorail tenders in 2007, gulfnews.com, 9/14/06.


Seattle's Dick Falkenbury

You're kidding, Seattle again? (9/10/06)
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Center Monorail reopened after over $3 million in repairs last month, yet it suffered breakdowns that led to re-closure. The City of Seattle is deciding whether to spend an additional $4.5 million to bring the system up to date and make it operational again. Some are calling for dismantling the system, but quietly and slowly, the unheard of is being said again, "expand the monorail." That's a phrase that hearkens back to Dick Falkenbury's original campaign to stretch the one-mile Alweg line to the north and south. Voters liked the idea and demanded it four times at the ballot box, until last year. Monorail Society President, Kim Pedersen, says, "The Seattle Monorail Project had become a fat pig, with fat-looking trains, fat pillars and a perceived fat price." Mayor Greg Nickels didn't help rescue the project, as he did with previously with Seattle's troubled light rail project. Instead, Nickels withdrew support completely and on a fifth vote last November, the SMP was ended by Seattle citizens. Less than a year later, there are rumblings. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer recently came out with an editorial advocating rescue of the old Alweg line, but they went one step further. Towards the end of the editorial they stated, "Will it eventually be worth those tens of millions to refurbish, or even expand, the Monorail line? Too early to tell. Is it worth $4.5 million to not lose what we already have? Certainly." Did they say "expand?" Yes they did. Another point to ponder: Falkenbury and fellow Seattle monorailists are still alive and still very much full of ideas. Stay tuned.

Seattle Monorail: Transit bargain?, Seattle P-I, 9/5/06.

Las Vegas update (8/26/06)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas Monorail Company President Curtis Myles III was interviewed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week. Myles gave considerable insight into efforts to improve ridership and expand the system. Despite the system not living up to pre-construction predictions of 50,000 passengers per day, he is optimistic that promotion from resorts on the line will help bring the numbers up from the current 20,000 or so riding each day now. He said by the end of the summer hotels will be promoting the monorail at their front desks. Also in the works are agreements with conventions for them to buy more tickets more often. Sponsorships are also expected to increase soon as well. As far as the Las Vegas Monorail being extended beyond its current 4-mile line on the east side of the Strip, Myles sounded encouraging regarding an airport expansion. He said, "We're going to complete our ridership study by the end of August, first week of September. The alignment study is effectively completed for the extension to the airport, so we're working with the airport for approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration." If that extension is built, it is hoped that passengers will be able to check into their bags upon arrival at the airport and have them delivered directly to their hotel while they ride the monorail suitcase-free. Many resorts on the west side of the Strip are also interested in being connected to the system. Myles stated, "You'll see some activity related to the west-side extension and where it will go. We had talked about being along Frank Sinatra Drive, but we don't think that alignment is going to be conducive to the kind of ridership that's needed to justify how much system we're going to have to build. We're looking at being a lot closer to the Strip, if not directly on the Strip, related to some of those properties." Financing for the extensions would come from a combination of both resort and private investment.

Monorail boss hopes to keep trains running and people moving, well into the future. Las Vegas R-J, 8/21/06. (requires registration)

Repaired Seattle Monorail breakdown prone (8/20/06)
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Center Monorail reopened after over $3 million in repairs one week ago, yet it has already suffered two major breakdowns that required train-to-train evacuations. A full load of passengers were stuck in a shutdown train above the corner of Denny Way and Fifth Avenue yesterday afternoon. According to an article in the Seattle Times, passengers suffered from the heat inside. It's reported that they also were given no announcement as to what was going on. One passenger finally used her cellphone to call the Seattle Center Monorail office using a phone number she found in a tourist brochure. She was told another train was on the way, which was the first information passengers got about what was happening. Another passenger complained of chest pains and hyperventilation and was taken to Swedish Medical Center for observation. Carol Wendell of New York City told the Times "Those children staffing that monorail, they didn't know what to do. We sat there and baked. Did you see that little baby drenched [in perspiration]? It's out of order."

Monorail breaks down again, Seattle Times, 8/20/06.

Delhi government says yes to monorail (8/16/06)
Delhi, India. The Delhi government is giving the go ahead for monorail in the densly-populated capital city of India. Tenders are being evaluated from four companies from outside India, including monorail manufacturers from Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Switzerland. A 48-km line has been identified for the first phase of what could become one of the most extensive monorail networks in the world. According to officials, financing will use one of three methods; the first is build, operate and transfer, the second is full financing by the government, or third, a public/private partnership. The monorail will be built to complement Delhi's Metro system, rather than compete with it. Officials hope to have the monorail before the Commonwealth Games, which are coming to Delhi in 2010.

Monorail just in time for C-Wealth Games. Hindustan Times, 8/17/06.

Seattle Center Monorail runs again! (8/12/06)
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Center Monorail reopened Friday after almost $4 million of upgrades and repairs as a result of last November's sidescrape accident. The system now includes a new automatic braking system to prevent a repeat of that type of accident. It is designed to shut down train power and apply brakes if a driver tries to enter the Westlake Center Station area where both tracks pinch together. One of the first riders on the system was Mayor Greg Nickels, who is regarded by many monorailists as one of the major players that helped end plans for an expanded monorail system for Seattle. The Seattle Center Monorail carries around 2 million passengers each year on its one-mile tracks between downtown and Seattle Center.

Seattle Center Monorail back in action, Seattle P-I, 8/12/06.

Shanghai Maglev fire (8/11/06)
Shanghai, China. The Transrapid maglev between Shanghai and Pudong International airport suffered an onboard fire, the first major negative incident since its public opening in 2004. The small fired broke out in the propulsion area of a vehicle, shortly after the train left the airport station. The train was evacuated at a station (at this point it isn't clear which station). No one was hurt in the incident. The system is approximately 30 kilometers long and trains reach speeds of 430 kph. The system has been shut down until the cause can be determined. An extension to Hangzhou is being planned.

Fire on Shanghai levitating train. CNN, 8/11/06.


Filmmaker Rob Kelly (seated) and his cameraman Jack at TMS headquarters in March of 2005

"High Tech Monorails" Hollywood sneak preview (8/6/06)
Hollywood, California. The monorail movement will receive a major boost thanks to a new 52-minute show by RAK Productions entitled High Tech Monorails. The production was sneak previewed in the Chaplin Theatre at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood on Friday evening. Rob Kelly, filmmaker and owner of RAK Productions, worked on the project for over two years. Stunning footage is included of Wuppertal's Schwebebahn, Seattle Center Monorail, Bombardier's test track, Shanghai Maglev and Las Vegas Monorail. Through special arrangement with Elegant Harp Productions and TMS, additional footage by TMS's filmmaker David M. Ice of monorails in Japan and Malaysia is included. Kelly, like many monorailists, is frustrated with monorail's history of not being used to its full potential. One segment of High Tech Monorails deals with Kelly's own backyard of Los Angeles, where LA's Worst Transit Decision story is told. Following the preview, Rob Kelly and TMS President Kim Pedersen answered questions from the specially-invited guests. In the audience were friends and family of Kelly, as well as some noted monorailists including Brian C. Brooks, proposer of the LA Flyer water channel monorail system. Pedersen told the audience that he's very excited about Kelly's production, as it is the first television show that is exclusively dedicated to the subject of monorails. High Tech Monorails is not scheduled for airing as we go to press, yet several major cable networks have expressed interest in the production. TMS will announce airing information as it becomes available. Kelly also plans to release an extended version of the show on DVD, with additional spectacular monorail/maglev footage shot over the two-year production period. TMS congratulates Rob Kelly and looks forward to the premier when millions of viewers will learn more about monorail!

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