Worldwide, around 80 percent of monorails fulfil a transport task in public transit, and thanks to their economic advantages and shorter implementation times, the trend is rising. Monorails are not only convincing on greenfield sites; they offer decisive advantages especially in developed or rapidly growing urban areas as the systems can be implemented most easy in highly dense and busy environment. The elevated construction reduces the space requirement to a minimum and does not lead to a displacement of existing surface traffic. As opposed to many cases where trams or dedicated bus routes are introduced, monorails fully preserve the capacity of existing road infrastructures. Some monorails manage very small curve radii of as little as 18 metres and gradients of up to 12 percent, making them ideally suited for locations and regions with a challenging topography or urban conditions. Monorails are also among the quietest transport systems having rubber tires. The prefabricated construction of the infrastructure - such as rail beams, supporting pillars and trackside components – which are often manufactured at the outskirts of a city, enables the structures to be erected quickly and without massive traffic restrictions at the operating site. The crossing-free operation eliminates the need for additional track safety devices outside the stations and allows fully automatic and driverless operation according to level 4 automation (GoA4).
Faced with an escalating demand for public transportation in metropolitan areas, transportation authorities are challenged to select a technology that will satisfy the often-conflicting demands of high capacity and reliable service, urban fit, minimized environmental impact and budget restrictions. In order to further promote the use of monorails, there is a particular need for a tool which enables the evaluation of monorails in comparison to other transport systems in the course of higher-level transport planning or concrete tenders.
With the “Performance Specification for a Turnkey Mass Transit Monorail System”, the International Monorail Association has developed just such a performance catalogue for components, subsystems, vehicles and the infrastructure. It describes the performance of an entire monorail system in a way which enables users to understand what is possible and what can be requested. It also gives the vehicle and infrastructure supply industry a better insight into technology requirements and avoids system-specific isolated solutions. This performance-oriented standardisation will ensure more competition along the supply chain and further strengthen the economic efficiency of the overall system.
This document is now the first official edition of the service catalog. Around 25 international experts of various disciplines – for example, from vehicle technology, control and safety technology, infrastructure, civil and structural engineering, or very specific subsystems and components , were reviewing the latest document. Work began on the initial foundations for performance-based standardization back in 2014. Then, in 2019, a comprehensive review process started with the participation of additional experts and operators and concluded with commentary at the IMA‘s Monorailex 2021 industry meeting in Milan, Italy.