Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Langley Monorail

A few weeks ago, Joe (co-founder of SFOT) and I were at a barbeque and happen to meet Mr. John Murchie. Mr. Murchie is an inventor and invented something called Composite Steel Technology (CST). This is an ultra light, strong construction material that can be used to build shells for things like light rail vehicles.

As you know we are strong supporters of at-grade light rail, but Mr. Murchie has invented a monorail system of his own using this CST technology. We at SFOT are open-minded, so we thought we would share some of the information about his system. You can download a letter with more detailed information from our document archive.
Inexpensive: We can build and install the guideway towers and rail for as little as $5-7 million per mile, roughly 35 percent of what Metro Vancouver’s Skytrain system now costs. Imagine, instead of the proposed UBC Skytrain extension costing $2.8 billion it could be done for well under $1 billion. In fact, both the UBC extension as well as the Evergreen line could be built for less than the Skytrain extension out to UBC!

Light Weight: Weight savings come from the patented Composite Steel Technology (CST) built into the passenger cars. A 90 passenger urban car will weigh under 10,000 lbs which allows for a far lighter support structure than any other system in the world. The lightness of the car and support structure not only translates into lower construction costs but equally important it allows this system to go where traditional systems can’t go such as on existing bridges, over top existing railway lines and over unstable ground.

Rapid construction time: Because the towers, rails and footings are steel these components can be fabricated in a shop environment on an assembly line basis. Once delivered to their erection site their light weight allows small portable cranes to handily install them with minimal interruption to people’s daily life and ground traffic flow. We estimate that once footings are in place we could complete one mile of elevated guideway in less than 2 weeks.

Safety: As an elevated system there are no concerns with respect to vehicular or train traffic.

Aesthetic Appearance: In contrast to the scenic nightmare created by the massive concrete columns and guideway of Vancouver’s Skytrain, the light weight of our system allows for small towers connected by an attractive architectural guideway.

Employment opportunities: This system will have universal appeal to cities and governments across North America and around the world for all the reasons listed above. While the fabricated steel would be done by multiple shops on a regional level the cars themselves would be manufactured here in the lower mainland. This would require a large investment in plant and equipment and create substantial employment opportunities for professionals and trades people.

Additional Advantages: For longer inter-urban travel, the guideway could also be used as a carrier for some services such as hydro, thus eliminating the need for separate towers and the associated landscape clutter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed with the low cost of the system. However their quoted installation costs are lower than even on-street LRT which makes me rather suspicious.

People should also remember that the total cost for a mile of SkyTrain is between $150 and $200 million, many times higher than the CST figures.

Unless and until we get a provincial government that is willing to look at more efficient use of tax dollars CST is unlikely to have any local success.