Difference Between Monorail and Metro Rail

Monorail vs Metro Rail

There are many in the world that have only heard about monorail and never seen it. On the other hand metro rail, which was available to commuters in very few countries till a few decades ago, is now a reality in dozens of countries around the world. Though both monorail and metro rail serve the same purpose of mass transit system which is fast and efficient, there are basic differences in design, structure and cost of a monorail and metro rail that will be discussed in this article.

To begin with, the concept of metro rail and monorail originated because of congestion of traffic routes and difficulty to run rapidly moving trains on tracks that were old and could not support such a rapid transit system. With populations going up in all countries, people faced lots of delays and could not reach on time to their offices and other places as trains could not move fast enough because of not only just old track system but also because of lots of stoppages in between. Both monorail and metro rail are mass transit systems that run independently of other transport systems and thus are able to avoid traffic congestion. They move at very high speeds in comparison to conventional trains and other modes of transport in cities.

As the name implies, monorail is a transport system that runs on single rail as against metro rail that runs on 2 rails like all other trains all over the world. The single rail is its only support system and it runs on a beam high up in the air as against metro rail that runs like a conventional train but on an independent track. Interestingly, monorail is referred to as a rail system though it is totally different from conventional railway tracks. Often people think that the train flies in air but it is not so and the train only runs on an elevated track. The track on which the rail runs is narrower than the train itself and this is the major point of differentiation with the metro rail.

The earliest monorails were born out of necessity to connect two points that needed materials in a fast time period. However, they were first thought of as a mass transit system in 50’s though they could not progress beyond a point because of stiff competition from automobiles and also because of high cost of manufacture of the track. But with traffic congestion becoming monstrous, the concept of monorail got a boost with Japan successfully running a monorail across Tokyo that carries more than a hundred thousand passengers daily. Monorails have all along been used in amusement parks. The maglev system developed by German scientists which is magnetic levitation and the train appears to be running on air, has become very popular as it not only allows very fast speeds, deceleration of monorail moving at a very high speed in moments is also possible. Maglev trains are one of the fastest running transport system on earth (besides airplanes of course), and speeds of nearly 600kmph have been achieved.

Metro rail has become very common in many parts of the world and the smart feature of metro rail is that the track is on ground, underground and over ground depending upon availability of space. So the same train may go under ground and within second come out of the tunnel and start running on a overhead track for some time. Some very successful and popular metro rail systems around the world are New York Subway, Shanghai metro, and the London Underground metro system. All over the world, whatever their nomenclature, underground rail systems are popular as metros. Today metro rail has become one of the fastest and most efficient system of transport of people in metros and other big cities around the world. Metro rail system has to be supported with a bus transport system as it has stations at places where there are no other means of transport available for people to reach their destination. As underground routes of metro rail allow the rail to bypass the traffic on the ground, rail can move at great speeds bringing much convenience for people.