Monorails are in essence rail networks with a single railway line instead of a twin set. Typically, a monorail track is also elevated from the rest of the surroundings in order to make the mechanism work. We live in a time when jumbo jets, high-speed bullet trains and metro transport networks have dominated high-speed public transport. It seems absurd to suggest that monorail could become the most popular mode of travel given the extraordinary levels of success achieved by these transport systems. But, the implementation of the technology for the future may have a different story to tell altogether.
But where do the wheels turn if there is going to be a single track? The answer is that they are either suspended from a straddle or narrow guideway that help in the movement of the train. However, as a next-generation technology, Magnetic levitation is also being used in some metropolitan networks to provide transportation with zero contact frictional losses.
More than seven nationas across the globe use monorail networks to provide their masses with Mass Transit option. Majority of these railways are present in Japan and seven of them are even major urban transit units. Other countries that use monorail include Australia, Malaysia, India, Europe, Russia and the US. The Walt Disney Monorail system in Orlando is one of the largest systems in the world with 100,000 passenger trips done in one single day. It has 14 mile long tracks of beam-ways. In addition to this massive system, monorails are being constructed throughout the world with Japan being the undisputed king in the field. The monorail system is so Japanese in essence, smart, fast and using better space management than conventional systems.
Normally, the best way to operate a monorail is the elevated track, but it can also be converted for use in subway tunnels if needed be. Almost all of single rail networks today are electric, powered by dual third rail power with contact wires or electrified channels attached or enclosed in their guidance beams. Some diesel powered systems are also in use but they are being reduced due to pollution concerns. Modern monorails can also use tilting technology to execute high-speed turns with ease. Something their twin-rail counterparts cannot do.
All in all, it occupies much less space, power and it can execute much more difficult manoeuvres. You can take monorail as a high-speed motorbike version of a locomotive. The construction can be completed swiftly with least disturbance to the surroundings. Main process of installing an elevated platform includes making a hole and propping the support poles right inside the shoulder of the rail support that was manufactured offsite and then we are good to go. No need to make underground passenger terminals or cutting a large number of trees and making paved roads!
But you must be thinking if they are so awesome why aren’t they popular around the world? Why people are sticking to other forms of transit? The simple reason is that monorails are branded as untried and unproven methods of mass transportation. Till we reach a threshold level, monorail won’t becomes the first transit choice of masses. But it is inevitable in my opinion as the rails’ safety, reliability, easy construction and eco-friendliness will only mean that it will become popular in the future. We hope it does as soon as possible. World needs better modes of transit more than ever!