Shonan Monorail.
Chiba City.

The modern-day incarnation of the SAFEGE monorail is in Japan. One system is in Chiba City (near Tokyo) and the other is the Shonan system. The Shonan system was opened in 1970 and is a single beam system with passing lanes located at several stations. We will discuss the Chiba City system here.

The Chiba City "Townliner" is currently the longest suspended monorail system in the world, and it is getting longer. Since it opened in 1988, the system has never stopped growing. Long term plans are for the monorail to be over 40 km in length, and this will most likely be surpassed. Building upon the knowledge and experience of the Shonan Monorail, the Mitsubishi Company built this dual-tracked system to connect suburbs in the Chiba Prefecture with Chiba's main rail station downtown. It is currently the world's only dual-beamed SAFEGE-type system. It also has a spur line off the main line, another example that monorail switches work fine. One of the reasons Chiba officials selected SAFEGE was because of the occasional inclement weather of the area. With SAFEGE, the running surfaces and train bogies are protected from the elements inside the beams. ALWEG-type monorails need heaters in the beamway or shovels on the train fronts during heavy snow or ice conditions.

The dual beams are hollow steel boxes about 1.86m (6.09') x 1.89m (6.18') in size. Note that this is much larger than the 2'2" x 4'0" Disney/Bombardier beam. Trains are two cars long, each car 15.4m long and 2.65m wide. Each car has two four rubber-tired bogies. There are 2 motors per bogie for a total of 4 per train. Power comes from a third rail inside the beam. On each bogie are four rubber guide wheels. The gauge of the load/drive tires is about .87m (2.85'). Electrical equipment and HVAC equipment are above the cabin. This helps lessen the risks of fire, as well as making it easy to maintain. The suspension system allows the cars to swing several degrees, like a pendulum, which makes it easier on standing passengers in curves.

  • Weight 21.5 metric tons
  • Max. speed 65km/h (40 mph)
  • Acceleration 3.5 km/h/sec (2 mph/sec)
  • Normal Deceleration 3.5 km/h/sec
  • Emergency Deceleration 4.5 km/h/sec (2.8 mph/sec)
  • Main power 1500V

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