Monday, August 17, 2009

What is monorail?

A monorail, simply put, is an elevated electric bus that runs on a single beam. The beam that serves as the track is known as "rail" and since there is only one of it, the term "monorail" is used. A monorail therefore refers to the track that supports the transport system or the transport system itself. The vehicle (or the electric bus) runs on the track can be a wheeled-vehicle or a magnetically levitating (maglev) vehicle. In a wheeled-vehicle monorail system, the vehicle is supported by multiple wheels that grip the track from all sides. The word "rail" in "monorail" is a misnomer. A monorail system has nothing to do with the conventional railway system.
A monorail system is faster and cheaper to construct than conventional railways (at-grade or elevated) and is used in congested areas having limited land availability. The monorail is more efficient at negotiating curves and gradients than conventional railways or light transport systems (e.g. trams). The ability of the monorail to handle curves varies inversely with the length of the vehicle.
Typically, a four-coach monorail can carry around 1,000 passengers. The monorail system has a simplistic structure with (elevated) piers at regular intervals that support the (horizontal) beams. Electric power for traction is drawn from the beam with no overhead cabling involved.

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