MONORAIL – Is a single rail serving as a track for passenger or freight vehicles. In most cases rail is elevated, but monorails can also run at grade, below grade or in subway tunnels. Vehicles are either suspended from or straddle a narrow guideway. Monorail vehicles are WIDER than the guideway that supports them.

OK, get it? Narrow and singular guideway with wider trains! Still confused? If so, here are some examples of monorails and non-monorails.

MONORAIL
No doubt about it, the Disney monorails in Florida (above) and in California fit the criteria. Even though there are actually five running surfaces on the beam, the track is singular in nature. The trains are obviously wider than the guideway…it’s a monorail!

NOT A MONORAIL
The Detroit Peoplemover (above) and the Vancouver Skytrain are often referred to as monorails. they actually are elevated light rail systems. They run on conventional steel dual rails on a massive wide beam. It’s basically a modern version of the old elevated trains of Chicago and New York.

MONORAIL
An Osaka Monorail train is seen here running through one of many switches. Again, wide train with a narrow guideway – monorail.

NOT A MONORAIL
This is an aerial section of BART in the San Francisco Bay Area. To the untrained eye, it may look like a monorail, but it’s conventional rail.


MONORAIL
Dortmund University’s H-Bahn is a great example of just how narrow a monorail beam can be. Siemens developed it and is constructing a similar system at Dusseldorf International Airport.


NOT A MONORAIL
Several manufacturers build people movers like this one (Miami) that are essentially automated buses. Many can be found at airports. In comparison to monorails, the tracks are gigantic.


MONORAIL
This is Aerorail, a proposed high-speed suspended monorail. It’s based on the Safege system (see Monorails in History-Part II), yet it uses steel wheels and rail inside the beam to attain much higher speeds. This art rendering is of a proposed system linking Northern Kentucky with Cincinnati, Ohio. Narrow beam-wider train.

NOT A MONORAIL
This is SDI’s Clarian People Mover in Indianapolis. While the beams look narrow and the train is the same body as many monorails, there are clearly two tracks per direction. Dual does not mean mono!

MONORAIL
To be more precise, this is a Maglev Monorail. It shares the same attributes of conventional monorails in that the train wraps around the track. However, propulsion and lift are provided by powerful magnets. See our Maglev Monorail Page for further information.

NOT A MONORAIL
It’s actually a cable car, designed primarily for shuttling passengers between a few of stations (usually two). Las Vegas has several cable-propelled shuttle systems like this one.