CONSTRUCTION  & ECONOMIC FEASIBILITY

For a monorail to be considered as a viable form of urban transit, it must “provide a cost/benefit package that is at least equal to more traditional transit technologies.” This in turn must reflect the cost of construction of the monorail, as well as the operation of such, with reference to the available alternatives.

- Vukan R. Vuchic, Kennedy, 2008

 

There is currently a lack of information with regards to the estimated costs for implementing the monorail system locally. From a technical point of view, costs will vary greatly depending on type of system adopted, the construction methods and materials chosen, as well as prevailing ground conditions along the route.


While the route design broadly considered areas with good topographical features for the column foundations, further analysis of the route and substrata conditions along it could result in a more cost-effective solution. The corollary to this would be investigating whether underground routes, or routes crossing the main harbours, are feasible or not.


 

The route designed was primarily limited to an over-ground solution as the initial capital costs for such are not as high as other possible solutions. Further research could also investigate in greater depth whether it is justifiable to increase capital costs in favour of a more convenient solution which a partially underground route provides.In his article in Transportation Journal , Frank Greenwood classifies the capital costs, for different modes of transport, in $ per mile (1963).

TypeCost in $ per mile (1963)Cost € per km (2012)*
Freeway – 2 lanes 2.5 million9.0 million 
Surface Rail – Rapid Transit Track (single, w/o stations & trains)3.0 million  10.8 million 
Supported Monorail – Elevated (single, w/o stations & 1.3 - 1.8 million  4.7 - 6.5 million 
Elevated Dual Rail (double, w/o stations & trains) 2.0 - 2.5 million7.2 -   9.0 million 
Subway (w/o stations & trains) 10.0 - 23 million36.0 - 82.7 million

*Based on $1.00 in 1963 having the same buying power as $7.42 in 2012. Annual inflation over this period was 4.18%. $1 = €0.78 Table adapted from Monorails for Metropolitan Transport (Greenwood, 1963)

TIME COMPARISON (vs. current Public Transport)

 
 
 

PASSENGERS PER HOUR (based on nominal capacity of 194 passengers per train)

Lead In time 2 car train 3 car train 4 car train 6 car train
 3 minutes1940  2910 3880 5820
 5 minutes 1164 1746 2328 3492
 10 minutes 582 873 1164 1746

As with the case of the Seattle Green Line (D J M Consulting & ECONorthwest, 2002), if one considers the reduced running costs for personal vehicles, savings in parking costs, reduced tailgate emissions etc., it becomes increasingly apparent that a system such as the monorail could prove cost-beneficial both to the Maltese economy and the commuters.


Once built, the monorail network, together with any future extensions, may be beneficial to the flourishing of new business districts, aiding commuters with cheaper and more efficient transport methods, while it may also boost activity in areas currently frequented by tourists.


A monorail system is ideal in that it is flexible to grow over time with the increasing needs/success of the network. One way in which the capacity can be increased is to increase the number of cars supported in each train. This would, of course, result in the requirement to increase the length of platforms within the station. Another way in which the system can account for such an increase is to decrease the lead in time between monorail trains. This implies that trains are more frequent, and therefore can carry more passengers per hour (especially during peak hours, for example).


The other way to increase the capacity would be to create more intricate routes, such as the introduction of the Valley line, which would serve more users in more ways, thus diversifying where the users get on/off the system and de-centralizing the use of the system. This, coupled with the feeder bus system, would increase the popularity of public transport in favour of private transport.

Cost of Monorail

Hirearchy of Costs

Proposed Phasing


Phases Showing Cost of Individual Routes