Sunday, October 01, 2006

Why I am so anti monorail

Read Wikipedia's entry on monorails.

Note a few things:
  1. vehicles are generally smaller than other metros, thus higher cost per passenger mile.
  2. mistakes in switching (changing "tracks") can be fatal - "derailment" being the vehicle falling off the track
  3. evacuation problems in emergencies as there are no emergency walkways.
  4. many other monorail systems in the world are at amusement parks.
Sounds quite true. Especially point 4, even in the case of KL.

What has been built in KL has been built, so no point crying over spilt milk. But I think that there should be NO MORE in KL. The Klang Valley is sprawling. Travelling long distances will take plenty of time, and opportunity to upgrade to Mass Transit standards is limited.

Maybe for Penang and JB, there is a case for it. But there is talk about including a monorail line on the second bridge to Penang.

Which brings up issue 2 and 3. Can you imagine being stuck in malfunctioning vehicle suspended over the open sea?


Blogger suanie said...

I've never taken the monorail. scared for my own safety heh

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Rajan R said...

Actually, while when derailment occurs, the effect is downright horrifying, however derailment is almost impossible for monorails (in KL, for example, the gap between the beams used for the changing of tracks at the terminal stations is too small for a train to fall through). While, yeah, monorails are used in Disneylands, however consider Tokyo Monorail (6 cars isn't exactly small like KL Monorail single-car trains), Chiba Monorail and Shonan Monorail.

In the case of KL, we picked the wrong, Malaysian-made, rolling stock. So I guess what should be done is to extend other manners of rapid transit to the Golden Triangle and market the Monorail for tourists instead. Higher fares charged for tourists also mean Berjaya can make more money!

12:00 PM  
Blogger commuter said...

Suanie, I have, but I myself try to avoid it. It's pretty dodgy. And expensive too!

Regarding switching surely for a long straight that will be Penang Bridge Numero Dos will be necessary (for evacuation, emergency, maintenance purposes?). And I dare not imagine what "derailment" would mean here.

And for KL Monorail, don't give them any ideas!

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i share you hatred of monorail. Especially since it's above ground (I hate trains that go above ground) and they had to cut those beautiful trees along Sultan Ismail to make way for this abomination.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Hijaz Kamal said...

Excuse me, but I believe the government was making a right choice to select the monorail system.
They needed a rail system to cut through Bukit Bintang and they either had to buld an underground system or an eleveted one. Conventional rails would be out of the question as its complicated construction would disrupt downtown KL and very expensve. Hence the monorail was selected as the construction of its elevated tracks is simpler to construct and more sensible.The government was making critical assessment when they decide to choose the monorai rather than giving handouts to cronies...

Monorails may be used in many amusement parks but so are buses and trams.I find this argument ancient. Moreover, most Japanese cities employ monorails rather than conventional rails and they have been successful and profitable.

I do agree that there should some sort of walkways along the monorail tracks along the elevated tracks like the one Japanese and US systems have for passenger escape during emergencies. However, MTrans did stated that such feature would be added in the future and possible as it was incorporated in the masterplan but for time being it's too expensive to build.The only assurance we have is that the possibility of accidents with monorails is small. There are no reported death in the few known monorail accidents...YET(?).

4:41 AM  
Blogger Hijaz Kamal said...

As for passenger density, the KL Monorail could be extended into a 4 car configuration and the frequency of the trains increased. I dun find the passenger density for monorails less than conventional monorails. Japan uses monorails successfully and they have a very big population. Hence, believe management and planning is more crucial in maximising the monorail's potential to transport large numbers of people rather than blaming it on the monorail system itself.

FYI,I am a monorail fan..hehehe.

4:50 AM  
Blogger commuter said...


As far as I can remember, the monorail construction was equally disruptive, if not more than the construction of the LRTs. In fact, I think it was worse because it took much longer to complete than the LRTs. Oh but then, it's "harap maaf, segala kesulitan adalah untuk kemudahan masa depan" eh?

And as we can all see, to operators like KL Monorail, safety (walkways) and convenience (seemless interchange) comes last.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Hijaz Kamal said...

Concerning the delay of KL monorail's construction,it was due to the economic crisis.That can't be help.

But I still believe the construction monorail is less disruptive coz the size of the pillar and beams of the monorail's elevated tracks are smaller and less complicated than conventional rails.

If the monorail system is seen as unreliable, what other options could KL have? If we think hard about it, monorail is the most viable option.

As for the safety features, that is the only prominent handicap of KL monorail unfortunately.

10:02 AM  
Blogger commuter said...


Do you work for Mtrans or KL Monorail?

How much thinner is the pillar of the monorail than the LRT ones?

You want to talk about pillars and road space, why don't the traffic police and Bandaraya start with enforcing parking laws along roads? And how about bus lanes which are used to park buses and rank taxis, rather than to let them pass through traffic? It's this third world mentality that hinders our progress. We can widen the road and road reserve until kingdom comes, but as long as the government doesn't enforce and the people take it for granted that the government doesn't, why talk about the benefits of having pillars with smaller footprints?

And has anyone remembered the mess the Monorail has done to Sultan Ismail with it's dunno what you call it one-way street?

I have thought hard about it and I don't think the monorail is viable. If you want to provide monorail-like low cost and "light-rail", why not just build trams? Or further develop the bus system? And wait, the Monorail has the most EXPENSIVE fares. With its low frequency and having to climb so many steps, I think the fastest way for me to get around town is to use Rapid KL's city shuttle. Honest.

I hope Rapid KL introduces a new City Shuttle route that runs parallel to the Monorail. And I hope to see a return to bus lane enforcements.

As for the safety features I can't wait for the day when the Monorail experiences Putra LRT like breakdown. And I think photos of the Bomba with their ladders rescuing passengers will be great. And ONLY THEN will these people talk about safety issues and start CONSIDERING emergency walkways (talk only, not sure whether to install).

But at the end of the day, I don't really care much about these systems. Monorail. Standard rail. Maglev (what is JB thinking?). As long as they are safe, well alligned, affordable, convenient, well thought off, well looked after and reliable, why not?

12:52 PM  
Blogger Hijaz Kamal said...

It does not hurt to let KL Monorail be a redundant part of KL's transportation network. KL is currently developing a CBD within the golden triange and there are currently no less than 30 office blocks and condos under construction in the BB and KLCC area. The KL Monorail may be prove very useful when the CBD is finished and occupied.

5:50 PM  
Blogger commuter said...

it has already been built. I accept that.

But what I am suggesting is NO MORE!

And I hope KL Monorail can fix all the kecacatan, like the stesen monorail sesat di Jalan Tun Sambanthan, the poorly integrated stations like Titiwangsa and Bukit Nanas, its bumpy rides, the stesen bertangga2, its lack of safety, sloppy train announcements, and its incredibly slow speed.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MTrans is currently doing research to improve the suspension system of its monorails to solve the bumpy rides.Furthermore, in the monorail society website,MTrans did say they will make all stations accessible to disabled people in the future.I believe MTRans waiting for the availability for $$ for this.

Besides the problems you stated above the monorail stations used to be so hot during afternoons and people complained. MTrans actually adressed this problem by installing fans which also spray water vapor which is very welcoming .I believe this is an indication that MTrans is at least doing its homework to improve KL Monorail.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Hijaz Kamal said...


Concerning your worries over the absence of emergency escape paths along the monorail track, Japanese monorail systems such as the Kitakyushu and Okinawa monorail also do not have such features eventhough kitakyushu suffers frequent earthquakes. Instead,should a monorail train malfuction,passengers would be evacuated into another monorail train.KL monorail also have this feature, except that a malfuctioning monorail would be towed by another monorail to the station.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Hijaz, if the monorail is electrified, what would happen in the event of a power outage? No towing.

My concerns about the monorail were made clear in my letters in the NST back when they revealed their plans for the 4 lines. The Director of KLIG wrote himself to contradict me, expressing how the monorail system could be expanded to 8-car trains, and up to 20,000 passengers per day per direction.

I'll believe it when I see it...and that is the point...we havent seen anything. No new 3-carriage trains, no new 2-carriage trains, no coupling of trains to make them longer, no plans for how they will solve the problems at KL Sentral. No announcements.

I got very supicious of the Monorail design the second time I rode it. I had to wait at KL Sentral station for 40 minutes. The reason was because a train had malfunctions.

To take this train offline, they drove it to KL Sentral to drop off its passengers, then returned it to the monorail depot along the inbound track!

I realized that these delays must also happen regularly when trains come into service and go out of service.

There would be a vastly simple solution for this...switch the direction that the trains are traveling. There would be no ifference to have the trains running on the right side, (instead of the left) and the delays would be reduced.

Cheers, mya

12:38 PM  
Blogger Hijaz Kamal said...

mr commuter,

The monorail trains could still operate independently even during power outages so that the trains could return to the stations safely during power outage.This is because the trains store battery power.

As for the monorail station being outside KL Sentral, I believe this is not MTran's fault but involves the refusal of the owner of the carpark between the monorail station and KL Sentral refuse to allow the monorail over his land.According to unofficial information,the carpark would be developed into another building that would apart of the expanded KL Sentral complex and by then,MTrans would either extend the monorail track or just connect the monorail station to the new building.

And mr.commuter,I do not work for MTrans,but just a typical guy who appreciates monorail.So I cannot answer for the delays.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Watson374 said...

anonymous, you can't switch to right hand running at the flip of a button. The signalling and signage don't work if you tried.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Excel Mgt said...

Mono rail? I would like to get a ride, but there's none near my house....

3:33 PM  
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7:44 PM  

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