What is the technology behind mono rail?
Arantangi, Tamil Nadu
Mono rail system as the name suggests, is a system which has a single rail instead of conventional system which has got two rails. But it is a misnomer. In fact, in place of rails, it has a single broad beam which supports the carriages.
However, above the beam, the carriages have conventional system of two side vertical wheel as in a normal motor car. In addition, it has two horizontal guide wheels, which give lateral support to the vehicles. These horizontal wheels run abutting a vertical structural element connected to the main slab.
From the outside, it appears as if the train is running on a single wheel. The propulsion system is generally electric rotary motors. The wheels have rubber tires for smooth and noise free operation. Some advance systems make use of Maglev (Magnetic Levitation) technology which uses linear Induction Motors instead of conventional rotary motors.
As the train picks up speed, the entire body of the vehicle lifts up in air by a few centimetres due to magnetic force and gives a total noise free travel. The rubber-tired system is good for lower speeds up to 160 km per hour. Maglev system can give speeds up to 400 km per hour. Some systems have a hybrid of both rubber tired and Maglev. At slow speed, it uses tired system and as the speed picks up, it changes to Maglev.
Former Member, Engineering, Indian Railways
Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh