The Metro Monorail (formerly Sydney Monorail, and originally TNT Harbourlink) is a single-loop Von Roll MkIII monorail in the city of Sydney, Australia, that connects Darling Harbour, Chinatown and the Sydney central business and shopping districts. There are eight stations on the 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) of track, with four trains operating simultaneously. It serves major attractions and facilities such as the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Aquarium and Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. The system is now operated for Metro Transport Sydney by Veolia, which also operates the Sydney Metro Light Rail. As of the end of June 2013, it will not operate.
HistoryEditWhat was initially known as the Darling Harbour Monorail was first conceived in the mid 1980s as part of the redevelopment of 50 hectares (120 acres) of land at Darling Harbour, providing a passenger link with the Sydney CBD. The operators TNT Harbourlink (part of transport group TNT) hoped to have the monorail ready by the Australian Bicentenary celebrations of 26 January 1988, but the opening did not take place until 21 July 1988. Nevertheless, the complete design and construction period of 26 months was an extraordinarily short one. Test services commenced in May 1988.
The original operation hours were to be 6:00am to midnight, but after two years of operation patronage counts were half those expected, and planned stations at Market Street (to be named Casino, as part of the gaming venue planned to be built on the site) and Harbour Street (to be named Gardenside) were not built for some time.
The track is a steel box girder of 940 millimetres (37 in) width, raised at a minimum height of 5.5 metres (18 ft) from ground level on steel columns 20 metres (66 ft) to 40 metres (130 ft) apart. The minimum curve radius is 20 metres (66 ft) and the maximum gradient is 4.4% uphill and 6.5% downhill. Power is supplied at 500 V AC to power the train, via a sheathed conductor below the running plate of the track. A control rail is also provided for train control, and a generator is provided to clear trains from the track in emergencies. The train control and maintenance facility is located between Convention and Paddy's Market stations, where a traverser moves trains in and out of service. Each station stop takes 40 seconds, including the time to decelerate, board passengers, and accelerate again. A complete circuit of the route takes 12 minutes, and the total capacity of the system is 5000 passengers per hour. It was originally intended for the system to operate automatically, but after a number of breakdowns soon after opening, it was decided to retain drivers, who occupy the first car of each train
Delivered in 1987, the trains were built by Von Roll Habegger and are built to the "Type III" standard. There are six monorail trains, which each consist of seven carriages. Trains seat 48 passengers over six carriages, with the driver in the leading car, but were designed to seat 56, using all seven carriages.The monorail trains run on rubber wheels, and each seven car train has six 37 kilowatts (50 hp) traction motors, permitting a normal operating speed of 33 kilometres per hour (21 mph). The doors of each car are automatic, and the floor level is self-adjusting via an automatic suspension system. Each train is 32.12 metres (105.4 ft) long, 2.06 metres (6 ft 9 in) wide, and 2.6 metres (8 ft 6 in) high.
Set 3 has been out of service for some time, possibly cannibalized for parts to keep the other five trains in service. Set 1 is in storage following a significant collision between it and Set 4 in early 2010. The last carriage in Set 1 has been removed from the set, and used to replace the damaged last carriage in Set 4. It has been renumbered.
The six monorail units are maintained in a purpose-built facility located in Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont. A traverser is installed to allow monorail cars to be removed from the main track for maintenance or to be parked. The facility also houses the Control Room (located above the maintenance area), as well as administration and staff amenities
The decision to build the monorail over other forms of rail (e.g. light rail) was in the eyes of many a political decision. Light rail would have been $20 million cheaper to build, service more passengers per hour and cost 40% less for a ticket, but the monorail system prevailed.
A 2011 article in the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Monorail was one of the most expensive public transport systems in the world, with a $5 flat charge even when traveling a mere 150 metres (490 ft) between two stops in Pitt Street. However, the same analysis applies to any system with a flag-fall fare structure (for example, a 50m taxi trip in Sydney costs $3.50), and no passenger would use the monorail to travel 150m.