Difference Between Monorail and Light Rail

Monorail vs Light Rail

Both monorail and light rail are rapid transit systems allowing for faster and more efficient transport of people in big cities. There are many similarities in a monorail and a light rail, and someone who has seen and experience both of them (as in Sydney, Australia) can easily compare them, but for those who have only seen these modes of transport in picture, here is a quick comparison to find out differences between these futuristic modes of transport.


As the name implies, this is a fast mode of transport that is different from other rail transport. It runs on a single rail in sharp contrast to conventional railway that runs on twin rails. Another factor that separates it from other modes of transport is that it needs an elevated track in the midst of the city and the rail runs without any hindrance or interruptions posed by city traffic. Monorail operates on electricity and is considered to be very expensive in comparison to traditional railway system. This is perhaps one reason it is restricted to only a few cities.

Monorail system called maglev (magnetic levitation) has been developed by German scientists and allows the train to run at unbelievably high speeds of 500kmph. Despite it being used in amusement parks as rides for children, monorail involves heavy infrastructure cost and this is why it is used only when other means of transport fail to serve the purpose.

Light rail

Light rail is a rapid transit system employed in may cities of the world. It is actually a rail made up of a number of cars joined together that move at fast speed around the city on the ground. They have lower capacity and also move at a slower speed than monorail. In many ways, light rail resembles the tram system used earlier in cities. It is advantageous for those who need to move short distances and also for those who need to stop at various points in a city. The very fact that it carries fewer passengers justifies its name as light rail. Light rail runs on 2 rails just like other rail systems.

What is the difference between Monorail and Light Rail?

• Monorail moves on a single rail while light rail moves on 2 rails like other transport systems

• The construction of monorail is more expensive than light rail

• Monorail moves at a much greater speed and is ideal for moving to large distances while light rail moves at slower speeds and stops at many stations. It is suitable for moving to various points inside a city

• Monorail moves on elevated track specially built while light rail is a number of cars joined together that move on the ground.