Monorail – a sheer miracle of public transport

Monorail – a sheer miracle of public transport

February 2, 2014 would go down as the memorable day in the transport history of India, when the first Monorail ran between the two stations of Wadala and Chembur in Mumbai covering the total distance of 8.9 km

February 2, 2014 would go down as the memorable day in the transport history of India, when the first Monorail ran between the two stations of Wadala and Chembur in Mumbai covering the total distance of 8.9 km. This operation of monorail has been first of its kind in the country so it is being considered as the beginning of a revolution in the public transport, especially in those densely populated towns and cities where surface transports have to face big traffic jams and passengers’ congestion. The credit of the construction of this modern transport wonder goes to the two of the giant companies of Larsen and Toubro Ltd and the Scomi Company of Malaysia.


As the name suggests, monorail is a unique means of the transport system which functions on a single track, contrary to the traditional trains which move on two tracks. The prefix ‘mono’ signifies - one. That is why the term monorail means those vehicles which run on a single elevated beam-like structure. What we can precisely say is that it is basically a rail-based transport system in which trains run on a single rail. However, it is also used to describe the specially designed beam or the vehicles which move on such a beam or track.


A monorail replaces the usual two-track railway system with a single track. Most appropriately it can be said as the special-purpose single track of the public transport. It is run on a especially-designed track. It has a single wide rail which is based on the strong concrete pillars. Like bullet trains monorails also run on this track without making any physical contact with it. This technology is called as ‘Meglav Technology’ which also works as the technology behind the running of the bullet trains. In fact, Meglav is the technology which functions on the theory of magnetic induction. (Magnetic induction is the process by which a substance like iron or steel gets magnetised by a magnetic field). It is also called as the Advanced Rapid Transit System.

Monorails run in two ways - they either straddle (putting part one side and part on other side of a track) the rail or hang from it. In the first type, the single rail, which works as the sole support to move the vehicles, is supported by pillars of different heights. In the second type, the rail can be suspended over canals and rivers. The most common type of monorail that is in use today is the straddle-beam monorail, in which the train straddles a reinforced concrete beam in the range of two to three feet (0.6-0.9 m) wide. A rubber-tired carriage contacts the beam on the top and both sides for traction (preventing wheels from sliding) and to stabilise the vehicle. The straddle-beam style was popularised by the German company - Alweg. Suspended monorail is another monorail system which was developed by the French company -Safege. In this system train cars remain suspended beneath the wheel carriage. In this design the carriage wheels do not ride but settle inside the single beam. The Chiba Urban Monorail, Japan, is presently the world's largest suspended monorail network.

Advantages of this transport system

The modern metropolitan cities and bigger upcoming towns are fast adopting the monorail system as an effective alternative to the public transport system. Because it does not occupy much space, nor does it cost more. Besides, it also makes little noise and does not interfere at all with the traffic and pedestrians on the surface roads. It runs 10 feet or more above the crowded cities. And what makes it more scientific is that it can turn around even at 60 degrees whereas the metro train needs 120 degree of inclination to make a turn around. A monorail track is usually less expensive to build than an elevated conventional rail line of equal capacity. Unlike conventional rail systems, straddle monorails are less likely to derail. Rubber - tired monorails have strong grips on both sides of track and climb even steeper heights more comfortably than ordinary trains.


Almost all modern monorails are powered by electric motors. However, diesel-powered monorail systems do also exist.

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