Home > Graphics & Illustration, Sci Fi, Things I Like..., Transport, Writing > In praise of the Monorail…

In praise of the Monorail…

1964NYI’ve recently completed and submitted (for hopeful publication in a respected arts and culture magazine) a short piece of writing all about the wonders of the monorail, in my opinion, a timeless and much misunderstood mode of transport that deserves far greater support.

The essence of my argument is that the monorail’s almost Pavlovian depiction as THE earthbound transport of the future, has resulted in it being underused and mistrusted as a viable urban commuter option in the large majority of today’s’ Cities..

Evidence, I suggest, can be found in countless imagined future cities in countless films, books, comics and TV programmes of the last 100 years or so:  Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1926), Things to Come (1936) Francois Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 (1966), in Mega City One (Judge Dredd’s home in 2000AD) and Logan’s Run, the writings of Arthur C Clark, Philip K Dick and Iain M Banks to name just a few.

Couple this often over exaggerated and/ or improbable Sci-Fi imagery with the monorail’s undeniable association with novelty rides, at things like World Fairs, Disney Land resorts and countless airports and zoo’s the world over, and the character assassination is complete…

Thankfully however, attitudes have been changing over the last couple of decades or so, and successful urban transport systems can be found in Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Moscow to name just a few of the forward thinking cities who have recognised the many benefits of electrically operated aerial monorails including reduced land take, reduced emissions and quiet operating volumes.

Due to copyright reasons, it’s difficult to include found and uncredited images with written articles published in proper magazines. On my blog of course no such restrictions apply, so I’ve collected below some of my favorite images, ones that I think best illustrate the idealism, excitement and overall futureness of the monorail…

Bertin monorail



New_York_World's_Fair_The_AMF Monorail_83734_B


Inuyama01 - Copy










pop science july 1934





  1. April 9, 2013 at 09:14

    They always work in Sci-Fi, don’t they? But I was stuck on a monorail once in the middle of an electric storm and it didn’t feel very futuristic then. Having said that. they are one of those great ideas that never seemed to catch on, rather like the hovercraft. One day, perhaps, we’ll all be riding them to work (if anyone still has a job) or to the mall (if people still go to shops).

  2. April 9, 2013 at 09:59

    Hi Alastair,
    You’re right about the hovercraft, another fabulous transport idea that didn’t really catch on. I went over the English Channel to France in the late 80’s early 90’s on the Hoverspeed service a couple of times. It was definitely speedy, but it was also very noisey and pretty bumpy as I remember..
    Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment

  3. April 9, 2013 at 10:23

    Fab post again, JoeBlogs. There is a great monorail in Bangkok now. In cities the space-saving aspect is immediately evident. The one in Barmen above the canal is such a good idea. I wonder if it has survived.

    • April 9, 2013 at 10:27

      I just looked it up, and it is indeed still in use, moving 25 million passengers per year!!

  4. April 9, 2013 at 10:33

    Many thanks Bridget
    On our world tour of a few years back, we rode on the monorails in Bangkok, KL and Sydney all jolly good.. The B&W photo is the Wuppertal system in Germany, which unbelievably opened in 1901 and is indeed still going – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wuppertal_Suspension_Railway

  5. Tim
    April 9, 2013 at 12:52

    I guess there might be a pedantic argument to be had about lumping monorails & suspended railways together?
    I guess cable cars are out as they have a cable rather than a steel rail?
    I remember going on a monorail at a New York airport that had concrete sections that moved, the points seemed to flip over to allow the train to alter route.

  6. And
    April 18, 2013 at 13:54

    what a lot of images of monorails you managed to find….! all very cool and beautiful of course!

  7. April 29, 2013 at 22:49

    “Proper magazine” .. I like it. I wish we could publish these images. Jack

    • April 30, 2013 at 13:17

      hi Jack,
      Some of the images are pretty whizz aren’t they.. I especially like the New York Fair one at the very top of the post. This to me encapsulates everything I like about monorails…
      thanks for taking the time to visit and comment
      (PS. I deliberately didn’t name MM in case it compromised my chances of getting into the next issue… if that makes any sense)

  8. January 8, 2014 at 23:35

    Are you familiar with the Monorail Society: http://monorails.org/

  9. January 9, 2014 at 10:17

    Morning George
    I am indeed. I read through the pages when I was researching for my original article. Some good stuff on there. I’ve been a fair few monorails myself, Singapore, Bankok, Sydney and Kuala Lumpur to name a few. Never been on the Wuppertal one though and that’s something I think needs addressing…
    Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.

  10. January 23, 2014 at 03:52

    The idea that monorail is some dream of a future that cannot be is just nonsense. New systems are either open, soon to open or under construction in numerous cities at round the world including Sao Paulo and Vegas. The Monorail Society does a good job of update ing construction status.

  11. Tim
    January 24, 2014 at 10:13

    Is there any particular advantage over normal light rail systems as they appear to be expensive to build & maintain?

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