China starts building $84mln Wuppertal-style suspended monorail in tourist resort in Hubei

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/7 18:33:40

File photo: CGTN

China started the construction of its first commercial suspended monorail in Enshi, Central China's Hubei Province, on Saturday. A Chinese railway expert said with the latest inclusion, China now has all types of mass transit in the world.

The rail, with an investment of 600 million yuan ($84.72 million), is 2.1 kilometers long with 800 meters to be built along a steep cliff face, making it the world's first ever cliff face suspended monorail, according to the Hubei Provincial Government's WeChat account. 

The train will be attached to the rail in May of next year and operation is scheduled for second half of 2020.

The monorail connects to a "Westworld-style" hotel complex that sits on top of a picturesque cliff and the project site has an altitude of 1,400 meters, which will make it the world's highest. The hotel project has a total investment of 4.86 billion yuan. 

A two-carriage train that can carry 170 passengers will shuttle along the line, which will have three stations.  

Sun Zhang, a mass transit expert and professor at Shanghai Tongji University, told the Global Times that the scale of the suspended monorail system in Enshi is appropriate and its tourist use, rather than for urban passenger transport, is reasonable.

"While the system saves ground space, its operation often incurs loss to operators due to the fact that the suspended design means it cannot carry as many passengers as other alternatives," Sun noted.

The system offers good views and takes a shorter time to build, according to media reports.

"Passenger inside a suspended monorail will be in a great position to enjoy the view of nature," said a manager at China Railway Science & Industry Group Co. The company has 40 pending patents for technologies used in the system, media reports said.

China already has four suspended monorail lines for trials and tests and is the third country in the world to have such systems, following Germany and Japan. 

The Wuppertal Schwebebahn line in Germany is the world's first electric suspended monorail. The Chiba Urban Monorail, located in Japan's Chiba Prefecture, is the longest suspended monorail train system at 15.2 kilometers.

Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality has the world's longest straddle-beam design monorail.

"With the latest inclusion, China now has all the types of mass transit available in the world," Sun said.

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