About – Monorails

Monorail is a transportation system based on railway. The term originates from joining “mono” (one) and “rail” (rail). This explains the difference between ordinary trains and monorail.

Monorail that operates on a single rail.

The ordinary trains that operates on two rails.



The first monorail prototype was made in Russia in 1820 by Ivan Elmanov. Attempts at creating monorail alternatives to conventional railways have been made since the early part of the 19th century. The earliest patent was taken out by George Monorail in the UK in 1821, and the design was employed at Deptford Dockyard in South-East London, and a short line for moving stone from a quarry near Cheshunt, Hertfordshire to the River Lea, the world’s first monorail to carry passengers and the first railway in Hertfordshire.

The Centennial Monorail was featured at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876.

Around 1879 a “one-rail” system was proposed independently by Haddon and by Stringfellow, which used an inverted “V” rail (and thus shaped like “Λ” in cross-section). It was intended for military use, but was also seen to have civilian use as a “cheap railway.”


Monorails work on a single beam support that guides the monorail. Sometimes the beams are elevated. A monorail coach consists of 20 Tyres. Out of these 20 tyres 8 are big tyres used in aircrafts and other 12 are small supporting tyres which helps the train to balance.

Image showing tyre composition. Pic – iGYANkosh


In a tyre group there are total 10 tyres. 4 are big aircraft tyres and 6 are small supporting tyres.

These two groups give the coach support and balance.

Image showing tyre groups. Pic – iGYANkosh


Monorails are powered by 2 types:

  1. Diesel
  2. Electric (O.H. E. or Third Rail)


Monorails generally do not have high speeds. Their average speeds are restriced to 30-40km/hr. Their top speed is around 100km/hr. Maglev system is also a type of a monorail without a tyre which are made for high speeds and have a potential top speed of 1000-1500 km/hr.

Application in India:

Currently monorail operates only in Mumbai. Its application could be vast as cities in India are getting crowded and as the space to make large briged or dug undergroung metro is turning heavy this is an easier task to make monorail system as it does not requires large setup.

Mumbai monorail plan :

Phase Line Corridor Length (km) Estimated cost
Phase I 1 ChemburWadala DepotJacob Circle 19.54 ₹27.16 billion (US$420 million)
2 MulundGoregaonBorivali 30 ₹41.7 billion (US$650 million)
4 Lokhandwala–SEEPZKanjurmarg 13.14 ₹18,265 million (US$280 million)
5 Thane – Mira-Bhayandar – Dahisar 24.25 ₹33,708 million (US$530 million)
Phase II 6 KalyanUlhasnagarDombivli 26.40 ₹36,696 million (US$570 million)
7 ChemburGhatkoparKopar Khairane 16.72 ₹36,863 million (US$570 million)
8 MahapeShil Phata–Kalyan 21.10 ₹29,329 million (US$460 million)

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