News Briefs Archives
July 23 - October 21 , 2003

Metrail for Penang! (10/21/03)
Penang, Malaysia. Barely a month since we brought you news about Metrail, a new hybrid monorail system with a test track outside Kuala Lumpur, one of the two major partners developing the system has announced that they have been selected to build a monorail system for Penang, Malaysia. According to sources close to the deal, MMC Engineering has a "letter of exclusivity from the government" for a 1.1 billion ringit ($289 million) monorail. MMC and its United Kingdom partner, Frazer-Nash, will start building a starter line sometime early next year. The monorail system is self-propelled and doesn't have the necessity for a power source on the guideway. Penang is Malaysia's key manufacturing hub. The monorail plan calls for a 37 km (23 mile) system.

Malaysia MMC Eng gets Penang monorail deal-sources. Reuters/Yahoo News, 10/21/03.
Metrail website


Kuala Lumpur profitable by 2007. (10/15/03)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Even with limited operating hours and only six trains on the system, the Kuala Lumpur Monorail is well on its way to being a financial success story. Currently the monorail operates from 7 AM to 8 PM, yet daily ridership is reaching 25,000 on weekdays and around 35,000 on weekends. Managing Director Patrick Wong says "When we operate from 6 AM to 12 midnight, we expect the ridership to increase further, [to 40,000 daily]." The number of trains would also increase to twelve by next year. Monorail operator KL Infrastructure Group Bhd expects to be profitable in its financial year ending April 30, 2007.

KLIG to break even operationally early next year. The Edge Daily, 10/13/03.


Monorail Nigeria Group formed. (10/9/03)
Lagos, Nigeria. The ever-expanding world of monorail advocacy is now officially on the continent of Africa. The Monorail Nigeria Group has been formed to advocate systems for their country of 150 million people and 250 languages. Prime targets for monorail promotion will be the congested capital City of Abuja, as well as the City of Lagos. TMS member John Cashin tells us that Nigeria is "the world's six or fifth largest oil exporter, exporting 2 million barrels of oil daily." Abuja and Lagos are in serious need of traffic relief. Cashin along with Twinkle Oruwarive are co-chairs of the advocacy group. Monorail Nigeria Group becomes the first to join the Monorail Society's World Campaign from Africa.

Monorail Nigeria Group
72 Opebi Road, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria
Co-Chair - John Cashin
Co-Chair - Twinkle Oruwariye


Orlando rejects light rail - again. (10/9/03)
Orlando, Florida. On Tuesday, Orange County residents defeated a 1/2 cent sales tax increase to fund roads and a light rail project. While other reasons were cited for the defeat, one was that a poorly defined "light rail" project was part of the mix. Whether a monorail proposal instead of light rail would have made any difference is subject to speculation at this point. What we do know is Orlando and Orange County residents do not want a light rail. Currently there are two studies under way for the Airport to the Convention Center (2nd largest in the Country after Las Vegas) and I-Drive tourist areas (which includes SeaWorld and Universal's theme parks) to determine which, if any, transit system is appropriate. Monorail has been said to be the preference of tourist-related businesses in the area. For those of you interested in helping make monorail happen there, Orlando Monorail is an organization very active in promoting monorail for those corridors.

Voters kill transportation tax initiative. Orlando Business Journal, 10/8/03.
Orlando Monorail Website


Surprise! Metrail econo-mono test track (9/18/03)
Nilai, Malaysia. Thanks to the sharp eye of Greg Keleshian of Orlando Monorail, we have recently become aware of a new monorail system under development. This one isn't just another pretty art rendering either, a full-scale test track has been built in Malaysia. The Metrail consortium, which has Malaysia Mining Corporation (MMC) of Kuala Lumpur and Frazer-Nash of the United Kingdom as partners, is now testing their Metrail monorail system at an MMC facility in Nilai, Malaysia. The monorail is powered by Frazer-Nash state of the art electric motors, and to keep costs down it is internally powered. Bus bars, external power supply, or substations are not required! The projected cost is around $12-14 million per kilometer. The train can run at low voltage of 48 V with a peak speed of 80 kph. Metrail shows three configurations of their system on their information-scarce website. A standard two-car Metrail train can carry 5,000-10,000 passengers per hour for smaller communities. A three-car Metrail Plus, designed for regular city shuttle services, can carry 10,000­20,000 passengers per hour. Metrail Ultra, the top of the line high-volume Metrail system, can carry 30,000­40,000 per hour. Metrail Ultra also boasts an amazing gradient climbing capability of 18%. Considering the ability to install quickly without electrical subsystems for the track and the projected low cost, it wouldn't be surprising to see many communities around the world line up for a Metrail monorail. We welcome Metrail to the growing community of monorail suppliers!

Metrail website
Frazer-Nash website
Malaysia Mining Corporation

  Kuala Lumpur Monorail popular in first weeks. (9/18/03)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Over 170,000 people rode the Kuala Lumpur Monorail during the first 15 days of operation. KL Monorail Systems managing director Bakhtiar Jamilee said "The volume is very good considering that passenger services are limited to between 10 AM and 3 PM at the moment. We are very happy to get such numbers just with the lunch-time crowd." The busiest stations are where transfers can be made to other rail systems of the city. KL Central Station is the busiest with between 2,500 and 3,500 commuters using it each day. KL Central is served by most major rail lines of the city, including a new line to the airport. Operating hours will be expanded to 8 AM to 7 PM next month. Five trains are being used now, with new trains being tested at night. Eventually the system will operate from 6 AM to midnight with 12 trains.

Over 170,000 use monorail in first 15 days. The Star, 9/18/03.

art rendering courtesy of
Seattle Monorail Project


Seattle Council amends land-use code for monorail. (9/16/03)
Seattle, Washington. The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to let monorail stations and track along the 14-mile Green Line rise as high as 65 feet. The council also said it will approve design guidelines for stations and alignment. However, before the city grants a "transitway agreement" in 2004 to allow construction on city streets, the Seattle Monorail Project must demonstrate that there will be enough money to complete the 14-mile Green Line. Revenues in the first months of a new car-tab tax, established for the monorail, have been below forecasts, causing concern for backers of the system. Councilman Nick Licata stated "Ultimately, it's going to be on our shoulders to decide whether to approve permits for the monorail."

City changes codes to permit monorail. Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, 9/16/03
City Council makes monorail pledge. Seattle P-I, 9/18/03.
Council to keep tabs on monorail: Project must show solid finances. Seattle Times, 9/18/03.

  Kuala Lumpur Monorail opens! (8/31/03)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After what has been a very challenging development period, the Kuala Lumpur Monorail has finally opened. It is the second major monorail system to open this month, as Okinawa opened their citywide system on August 10th. The RM1.18 billion inner-city transit system was to have been launched last September, but was postponed after a 13.4 kg safety wheel came off and fell on a reporter who was walking under the tracks during a trial run on August 16th of last year. The accident was ruled to be sabotage, yet several design changes have been made to improve safety. Earlier, the Asian financial crisis of 1997 had totally stopped the project, which at the time was being built by Hitachi. Newcomer Monorail Malaysia took over the project and restarted construction in1998. The official launch by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad was held at the Bukit Bintang station in Jalan Sultan Ismail. Malaysians coming out for the Merdeka Day celebrations were given the opportunity to try out the monorail for only RM1 for each journey. This special rate will continue throughout September. After September, tickets for a ride on the monorail system, which stretches 8.6 km from Titiwangsa to KL Sentral, are priced from RM1.20 to RM 2.50. There are 11 stations in the monorail link. The monorail can travel up to 90 kph with up to 214 passengers. It is estimated that it could reduce inner-city road traffic by 15 per cent.

Dr Mahathir launches KL Monorail service. Utusan Online, 8/31/03.
Monorail proves progress in engineering. Utusan Online, 8/31/03.
Kuala Lumpur Monorail website.
PM to launch KL Monorail today. New Strait Times, 8/30/03.
  Moscow Monorail powers up. (8/31/03)
Moscow, Russia. Our source for information and photographs from Moscow, Anton A. Chigrai, informs us that the vast majority of the Moscow Monorail construction is complete. Currently tests of the power system are under way. Trains are scheduled to be delivered to the depot next week. Moscow citizens will be looking up above soon after, as the first test run is scheduled for September 6th. If all goes well, the Moscow Monorail will begin passenger operations in November.

Orlando Monorail website debuts. (8/31/03)
Orlando, Florida. Campaign USA has gained yet another group of dedicated monorailists pursuing monorail for their community. Monorail Society Vice President Keith Walls and member Greg Keleshian have proudly announced the debut of their Orlando Monorail website. Not satisfied with the continuing efforts by officials to build light rail in Orlando, backers of the Orlando Monorail are going directly to the citizens with their education efforts. Walls and Keleshian enlisted the help of Rob Fairman with the design of the website, which includes slick Flash animations and computer renderings of what the Orlando Monorail could look like. If you're in the Orlando area, be sure to visit the site, join their group and help make it happen!

Orlando Monorail website.


King County initiative delay (8/31/03)
King County, Washington. 90 days to collect 45,000 valid signatures for an initiative is no easy task. Backers of a proposed King County Monorail Initiative were trying to do just that, but difficult requirements established by King County have resulted in a delay in their efforts. The Citizens for King County Monorail (CKCM), the volunteer group promoting a regional monorail on the King County ballot, decided to re-file its initiative and resume efforts in the spring of 2004. If signature gathering is successful then, the proposal could appear on the November 2004 ballot. According to Steering Committee member Scott Durham, "We've had such a great response from a wide range of groups and individuals across the county. We want to take the next months to build that incredible momentum and let it carry us into a November 2004 election." Steering Committee member, and former Bellevue City Councilperson, Nancy Rising said "Our endorsements have been terrific for an all-volunteer, grassroots organization! Thus far, we've been endorsed by the Renton Chamber of Commerce, the 41st, 45th, 47th and 48th District Democrats, Transportation Choices Coalition, and the Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council."

Monorail initiative hits the brakes until spring. Seattle P-I, 8/30/03.
Petition problems derail monorail supporters.
King County Journal, 8/30/03.


SimCity 4 includes monorail. (8/31/03)
Redwood City, California. Monorailist gamers have gotten their wish. About a year ago, a discussion began on the Monorail Society Discussion Group about the SimCity computer game. It was suggested that monorailists should write to Electronic Arts, the company that makes SimCity, and recommend that monorail be included in their popular simulation game. Recently Electronics Arts did just that, they have included monorail in the new expansion pack for SimCity4. The expansion pack is called "Rush Hour," and it involves more detailed modeling and control of transportation infrastructure. Not only will players be able to construct their monorail systems in their simulated cities, but a first person driving mode allows players to drive their monorails throughout their simulated cities!

SimCity 4 website.
SimCity 4 monorail image

photo by Steve Marcus


Broadbent remembered. (8/14/03)
Las Vegas, Nevada. Bob Broadbent died Saturday at the age of 77 at Boulder City Hospital. Broadbent was a political force in Nevada for 40 years. He was Boulder City's first mayor in 1960 and was best known for his 11-year tenure as Clark County's director of aviation, where he oversaw a multibillion-dollar expansion of McCarran International Airport. In recent years Mr. Broadbent became well known amongst monorailists as the man who spearheaded the effort to make the Las Vegas Monorail System come into being. Overcoming enormous political and legal obstacles, his work will result in the opening of the first leg of the system in early 2004. Before the system has even opened, an extension to downtown Las Vegas has also been approved. He envisioned the system eventually being connected to McCarran International Airport. County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury has proposed naming the system for Mr. Broadbent.

Bob Broadbent. Las Vegas In Business, 8/9/03.
Longtime public servant Broadbent dies. Las Vegas Sun, 8/11/03
Bob Broadbent, at 77. Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/11/03.

Vegas Monorail Named After Former Southern Nevadan Politician. KVBC TV, 8/15/03.


Niagara Falls people mover gets funds. (8/14/03)
Niagara Falls, Ontario. The long-awaited people mover for Niagara Falls has been given an $18 million (U.S.) grant from the Canadian government. Mayor Wayne Thomson said "This is the icing on the cake for us. It will get rid of the congestion on the roads, and it will encourage visitors to stay here longer." Congestion in the area has been increasing in the burgeoning tourist area, 18 million people a year visit and 30 million a year are expected by 2005. The people mover may be a monorail, but the technology or supplier has yet to be selected. The new system will have stops at Marineland, Table Rock, the Skylon Tower, Maid of the Mist, Clifton Hill, Casino Niagara and the Butterfly Conservatory. It will also serve a parking lot away from the congested tourist area. "The new system ties everything together," Thomson said. It's hoped to open the system in the Spring of 2006.

Falls, Ont., gets funds for proposed monorail. Buffalo News, 8/13/03.


Mishap on Okinawa's 1st day . (8/14/03)
Naha, Okinawa. On the Okinawa Monorail's first day of passenger operations, a two-car train lost power about 60 meters out of Furujima Station. Moments earlier a 2-year-old boy had caught his hand in the doors of the train. A passenger helped pry the doors open for the boy, but this caused the door to become misaligned. The door was then closed manually by a driver, but the automatic door system malfunctioned and the train lost power upon departure. After a one-hour wait, another train was coupled to the disabled train and towed it to Omoromachi Station. Passengers were unloaded at the station. Because of the incident, monorail service for the entire system was suspended for about two hours. Company President Hidetomo Kojo apologized at a press conference, saying, "We're very sorry that we've caused trouble to monorail users on a day that should otherwise be about celebrating the opening of the service." The system is expected to serve about 31,000 users per day. On opening day, about 62,000 people used the system.

Naha monorail halted on 1st day. Daily Yomiuri, 8/12/03


Okinawa Monorail opens. (8/10/03)
Naha, Okinawa. It's a great day! The "Yui-Rail" Monorail opened today in the City of Naha, on the southernmost island of Okinawa, Japan. The rail was first proposed shortly after Okinawa was returned to Japan's sovereignty from the USA in 1972. Okinawa Urban Monorail Co. President Hidetomo Kojo blew a whistle and the first train, driven by Erina Tamashiro, 28, departed from Naha Airport Station at 6 a.m. Yoriyuki Mori, 44, a national government employee from Hita, Oita Prefecture, was the first passenger to get on the train. Mori brought a sleeping bag and had stayed at Naha Airport Station since Friday afternoon. "I made it. I felt as if I was dreaming," he said. He proudly showed off a handmade flag bearing, "Congratulations on the inauguration of the Okinawa monorail. I'm the first passenger." This guy belongs in TMS, you think? The Monorail Society congratulates the many people responsible for the development of this spectacular monorail system. As well as being a fantastic addition to the City of Naha, it's another big win for monorailists!

Monorail Society Okinawa Monorail Photo Special
Monorails of Japan DVD Set (features entire ride on Okinawa Monorail as seen from front window!)
Okinawa Monorail website
Okinawa Urban Monorail starts running. Mainichi Daily News, 8/10/03.


Kuala Lumpur fire evacuation. (8/9/03)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Don't panic monorailists, it was only a test! Kuala Lumpur Monorail, in conjunction with the Fire and Rescue Department, police, and hospital staff conducted a mock rescue operation this week. The monorail system is nearing its opening date of August 31, and the exercise was one of the last major events before revenue operations. Rescuers rushed to the scene where a monorail train was "on fire." The exercise took place in the center of the city's Golden Triangle district. Despite a power supply failure, the train, which was in mock distress between the Imbi and Bukit Bintang stations, was brought to Bukit Bintang station where all passengers were safely unloaded. The station was then evacuated and immediately cordoned off.  According the the Malaysia Star newspaper, "the emergency response team worked hard during the operation, despite knowing that the incident was an exercise so that its members and other staff would know how to handle disasters." KL Monorail System Sdn Bhd general manager for operations, Larry Williams, said "although you can never plan a disaster, the rescue operation was carried out more or less according to plan."

Monorail rescue drama a success. The Star, 8/9/03.

Iris design; expensive wall of track with two walkways instead of one, or pretty design for limited space in downtown? (rendering by ZGF)


Seattle: taxes low, iris views, no landmark. (8/9/03)
Seattle, Washington.
Taxes: A bit of nervousness has surfaced at the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP), as the new car-tab tax to pay for the project generated fewer dollars than expected in June. Officials are saying they will wait for July figures before they determine whether a major problem is developing. Joel Horn, who heads up the project, said "I'm confident we can design a project that can fit our revenue stream, because we have so much control over the project still." Department of Licensing (DOL) figures showed June collections at around $2.6 million, which is one million dollars short of what the Seattle Monorail Project says it needs each month on average to build the line. A radio interview of Horn discussing the money situation is now posted on the SPM website.
Irises: Art renderings of proposed Iris structures in the downtown area have been released to the public. They reveal dual-level tracks that would require two emergency walkways. Conventional t-supports only need one walkway between tracks, such as in Las Vegas. The iris design is being considered where space constraints are an issue and multi-level stations would be desireable. Art renderings were done by consultant Zimmer Gunsul Frasca (ZGF). A huge number of renderings have been added to the Seattle Monorail Project website, click here to take a look.
Landmark not: On Monday the City Council dashed hopes of Alweg preservationists by allowing SMP to demolish the old monorail line. The council will save the historic Alweg trains, but the 1962 track will be removed and replaced with new monorail track for the Green Line. What will become of the Alweg trains is subject of much conversation and some interesting ideas. Dick Falkenbury, candidate for City Council and the man that started the Seattle monorail movement, has some ideas to keep the trains running. He suggests that instead of building an expensive new streetcar for South Lake Union as some have proposed, it might be cheaper to connect the old Alweg system to the Green Line at Fifth Avenue and Bell Street and have it run in a loop out to the south end of Lake Union. Other proposals to keep the trains running have been forwarded as opposed to putting them on static display in a museum setting.

Monorail revenue falls short. Seattle P-I, 8/8/03.
Car-tab taxes less than expected.
Seattle Times, 8/7/03.
What monorail may look like downtown. Seattle Times, 8/6/03.
New Monorail idea: save the old one. Seattle P-I, 8/6/03


Pinellas MPO moves project forward. (7/28/03)
Pinellas County, Florida. Pinellas County's Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) board today voted to move forward on a 38-mile monorail system. If built, the system could carry 50,000 people a day from Clearwater Beach to downtown St. Petersburg and other points. The idea for a monorail system in the county has been proposed and studied on several occasions, but traffic has now reached a peak that makes the current proposal have a better chance of realization. While today's vote was a milestone, money to build the system remains the biggest challenge ahead. County Commissioner John Morroni asks "Do we go to a referendum and ask for it? Or is there a way to pay for it without going to a referendum?" Federal funds would be sought to match local funds. Officials will seek public input in the upcoming months. Tampa-based consultant Grimail-Crawford has been directed to complete a New Starts analysis for the system.

Rail system at a crossroads. St. Petersburg Times, 7/28/03.
Pinellas Mobility Initiative website


Last Alweg-built monorail on way out. (7/23/03)
Seattle, Washington. A Seattle City Council committee recommended that the Seattle Center monorail track not be given landmark status. Council members on the committee represent a majority of the council, and it's likely that the full council will also turn down landmark status for the track. If so, the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) will be free to use the same corridor for the planned 14-mile Green Line monorail. Preservationists and some monorailists sought to preserve the Alweg monorail as an operating system. The one-mile dual-lane shuttle features the world's last remaining monorail trains built by Alweg, the company that developed the modern straddle type of system in use all over the world. Along with the Space Needle, the monorail was a symbol of the 1962 Century 21 World's Fair. Ironically, the 41-year old track will be torn down to fulfill it's designers dream of a longer system. The fate of the trains is yet to be determined.

Monorail is not a landmark, council says. Seattle P-I, 7/23/03.
Monorail tracks, columns can go. Seattle Times, 7/23/03.
Seattle Monorail Project website.

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