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Mar 2, 2015

How Monorail Based Bullet Train Can Save Money For India

Not many people know that monorail can be a great money saver when used for high speed bullet trains. Over the last couple of years there has been a huge demand for high speed transport in India. This is because it aids in quick economic growth by helping in fast supply and distribution of manufactured goods.

A monorail is a special purpose single track railway. You might be thinking that it might not serve a better arrangement for aiding faster trains as compared to conventional two rail system. It's not your fault if you think on those tracks since we i.e. humans are programmed that way. For us humans - "more is better". It is a fact that we trust a two legged men more than the single legged one. But think again. If more is better every time, shouldn't we trust four legged living beings (animals) more than two legged ones. But we don't do it. There are other things that count.

monorail in india
high-speed monorail speeding away
Actually a monorail provides a better surface for running fast trains. One problem with conventional two-rail system is that at high speed the train tends to oscillate from side to side, a phenomenon known as hunting. This does not happen on a monorail, allowing faster train speeds. The world's fastest trains Maglev(magnetic levitation) when operate on monorails and can achieve speeds up to 3,500 km/h.

At national rail museum, a Patiala State Monorail Trainways (PSMT)is stationed. Needless to say, it's steam locomotive needs to be replaced by electric engine for high speed commercial and passenger transportation.

PSMT monorail at National rail museum New delhi
patiala state monorail train locked in national rail museum new delhi -why?
Thus it is clear that there is no disadvantage in using a single rail track for running fast trains. And it is economical too. You won't need to be a rocket scientist to understand it. Indian Railways currently has a track of 115000 km. Now if you double that, for a two rail system, the total would be 230000 km. Now you just multiply it with cost of steel, A grade steel 90 KSI (kilopound per square inch) ultimate tensile strength (UTS) is used for manufacturing railway tracks. Obviously the cost comes out pretty high. In case of monorail, just divide it by 2 to come to new cost. It would be 50 percent less. That is huge amount of money saved without compromising our objective of running high speed trains.

Two rail system also limits where bullet trains can be run. Most times it needs a dedicated corridor, and that requires land acquisition from farmers and other landlords falling on the route. It is a big no-no in rough terrains and complicated routes. This is the reason that govt. is planning to run its first such train between Ahmedabad and  Mumbai, in plains. and not in hilly Jammu and Kashmir, or deserted Rajasthan. In case of monorail its vehicles either straddle the rail or hang from it. In the first type, the pillars supporting the rail can be of different heights, and so rough terrain can be crossed cheaply. In the second type the rail can be suspended above canals and rivers, taking up little valuable land. It is clear to see that if Govt. of India focus on single beam rail, it won't have to be desperate to pass the controversial land acquisition bill, against which many demonstrations are held in country presently.

India is already equipped with technology to run monorail. Recently introduced monorails in Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata,  under Long-term Urban Transportation Scheme are proofs of it. It is high time that this transportation technology, presently used in limited cities, is extended to national level railway transport.


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