Should monorail replace passenger railroads?

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Shou ld we invest in monorails for pasengers?

  • yes

    Votes: 2 5.7%
  • no

    Votes: 32 91.4%
  • undecided

    Votes: 1 2.9%

  • Total voters
    35

cirdan

Engineer
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,585
There are also things like the French Aerotrain which was indeed designed for very high speeds. A large part of the experimental line still exists, albeit slowly disintegrating, and runs parallel to the Orleans to Paris railroad from which you can see it very well for a considerable stretch (on the right hand side while travelling North).

The Aerotrain was basically a guided hovercraft, so there was no actual physical contact between train and rail. The train could also be steered and could thus run as a conventional hovercraft (at lower speeds), which was used especially for turning the train at the end of the line. There was thus no need for switches. It was powered by aviation fuel and apparently was extremely noisy.

It was the TGV that killed it off eventually.
 
Last edited:

Exvalley

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
948
Monorails have their place in urban environments where land is super expensive - especially if you can build a monorail above an existing roadway.
 

jis

Engineer
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
29,156
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
But then again a large proportion of new Metro lines in crowded Asian cities are also built elevated above roads, and they are full width full gauge standard heavy rail.



Notice how they are built on single pillar in the median of the road. In the city center they go underground. Further out in the sticks they are built on ground and they can share trackage with main line railroad if need be, though currently they are all self standing separate lines to ease traffic and dispatch management.
 

jebr

Enthusiastic Transit Rider
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
4,416
Location
"The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN
Monorails are basically gadgetbahn - you can do pretty much anything that they do just as well with conventional technology at a lower cost. There's a few examples of them, and while they're pretty cool it seems quite rare that they're any more functional than standard elevated rail.
 

MARC Rider

Engineer
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,496
Location
Baltimore. MD
Well, you specifically referenced Disney. But okay; let's take Japan. Wikipedia shows that they currently have ten monorail lines in service. And, as far as I can see, they are all commuter service or airport transfer; I don't see a single intercity passenger transport monorail in the bunch (admittedly, I haven't looked that hard). Yet Japan has possibly the world's finest network of conventional and high speed rail lines linking all corners of the nation.

If monorails are so good, why aren't those proportions reversed?
I've ridden both the Disney World monorail and the one that serves Haneda Airport in Tokyo. The Disney world one was strictly an amusement park ride, OK for giving people a different kind of travel experience, but I personally preferred the boat shuttles for that sort of thing. The Tokyo monorail was more like rapid transit, and it was fine, but the experience wasn't really any better than just riding in a conventional rail train.

I think that somehow in the 1950s and 1960s, the science fiction visionaries pushed this concept because they needed to conceptualize some sort of fixed guideway ground transportation for their vision of future worlds, and heaven forbid that Captain Kirk would still being riding around San Francisco in the 22rd century using 19th century technology like railroads. This sort of vision believes that all technology from the past needs to be discarded as soon as a new alternative is invented because it's "old fashioned." That might be true for some technologies, but as far as fixed guideway ground transport is concerned, I haven't heard of anything that is truly competitive with conventional railroads.
 

MARC Rider

Engineer
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,496
Location
Baltimore. MD
But then again a large proportion of new Metro lines in crowded Asian cities are also built elevated above roads, and they are full width full gauge standard heavy rail.



Notice how they are built on single pillar in the median of the road. In the city center they go underground. Further out in the sticks they are built on ground and they can share trackage with main line railroad if need be, though currently they are all self standing separate lines to ease traffic and dispatch management.
The PATCO Speedline in southern New Jersey, opened in 1969, runs for a good part of its way on "futuristic" elevated roadway.
 

MARC Rider

Engineer
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,496
Location
Baltimore. MD
Monorails are basically gadgetbahn - you can do pretty much anything that they do just as well with conventional technology at a lower cost. There's a few examples of them, and while they're pretty cool it seems quite rare that they're any more functional than standard elevated rail.
Monorails are also very inflexible. While I believe they've devised switches and such, they're much more complicated and less functional than rail switches. This makes branch lines and crossovers difficult to design.
 
Last edited:

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,623
Location
Ithaca, NY
Monorails are flat-out pointless.

Current safety regulations require a side escape walkway.

As a result, it is cheaper and simpler, *100% of the time*, to replace a monorail with a standard elevated rail.
 

flitcraft

Conductor
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
1,012
Nobody with even a modicum of understanding of public transit thinks monorails make any sense. They work as 'toy transit' at amusement parks and large shopping malls; that's it. If you can't be bothered to click on the information given, it's hard to think that you have any serious intent in asking your question here.
 

Tlcooper93

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
430
Location
Boston
9DDF935D-68BA-4786-8CD2-FFDE2195599F.jpeg
maybe in an alternate universe like “Man in the High Castle,” high speed intercity monorails could work.

despite the fact that there is absolutely no reason or evidence to suggest their usefulness....

...they look mad cool! Maybe amtrak could strap 50 cals to the front of the Zephyr like this one here.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: Cal

jis

Engineer
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
29,156
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
View attachment 22969
maybe in an alternate universe like “Man in the High Castle,” high speed intercity monorails could work.

despite the fact that there is absolutely no reason or evidence to suggest their usefulness....

...they look mad cool! Maybe amtrak could strap 50 cals to the front of the Zephyr like this one here.
This was the Super Dooper Hyperspeed transport connecting New York City to the Lackawanna Mine Number 9 multiverse portal. It is powered by a battery of what looks like some sort of jet engine in the rear. It was easily destroyed by a pile of home made bombs toppling down one tower by insurgents in the final episode. Interestingly in New York the station is underground. It emerges from the tunnel in what looks like some sort of a drainage ditch.

"Man in the High Castle" has some really strange but cool stuff of this sort.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
841
How fast is "High Speed" for a Monorail? Every monorail I can find runs between 35 mph and 50 mph, except Line 3 of the Chongqing Rail System which has a Hitachi system that may run at 62 mph/100 kph. 62 mph is pretty decent for a city line but probably wouldn't work for InterCity or Long Distance.
I like Monorail for certain applications in urban mass transit, but I am not sure that current tech would work elsewhere.

Japan and South Korea managed to build them. High speed onestoo.
 

Tlcooper93

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
430
Location
Boston
How fast is "High Speed" for a Monorail? Every monorail I can find runs between 35 mph and 50 mph, except Line 3 of the Chongqing Rail System which has a Hitachi system that may run at 62 mph/100 kph. 62 mph is pretty decent for a city line but probably wouldn't work for InterCity or Long Distance.
I like Monorail for certain applications in urban mass transit, but I am not sure that current tech would work elsewhere.
I think our monorail supporting friend is misinformed about what constitutes high speed.
 

Anderson

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,708
Location
Virginia
This was the Super Dooper Hyperspeed transport connecting New York City to the Lackawanna Mine Number 9 multiverse portal. It is powered by a battery of what looks like some sort of jet engine in the rear. It was easily destroyed by a pile of home made bombs toppling down one tower by insurgents in the final episode. Interestingly in New York the station is underground. It emerges from the tunnel in what looks like some sort of a drainage ditch.

"Man in the High Castle" has some really strange but cool stuff of this sort.
That train is cool...but it's also basically "The Pioneer Zephyr and the Black Beetle had a baby". The jet turbine design on the back is very much based on the NYC "Black Beetle" (a DMU they rigged up with a pair of jet engines for speed testing...or a PR stunt, depending on who you believe) but IIRC it's a three-car multiple-unit.

(Also, based on the rest of the show it seems quite clear that there's a substantial monorail system in Berlin; this suggests that you have some sort of "incumbent" supplier and thus the lines would share at least some parts and have reached critical mass for cost-effectiveness. Or, given some of the other proposed projects of that particular regime, they just didn't care about cost.)
 
Top