(Image: Hpeterswald; defunct steel guide way on the abandoned Sydney Monorail)
Monorail systems are staples of amusement parks and rapid transit between airport terminals. Along with suspension railways, they can also be found weaving their way through the streets and blocks of major cities. The single rail transportation system, which often straddles an elevated guide way, can trace its roots back to 1820s Russia. But as our recent article covering 11 Abandoned Monorails, Suspension Railways, Railplanes & Hovertrains suggests, their popularity has been mixed. One recent example is the abandoned Sydney Monorail in Australia’s most populous city.
(Images: Hpeterswald; dismantling the disused Galeries Victoria monorail station)
Despite its gleaming modern appearance, the 2.2 mile single-loop system remained in use for just 25 years. Originally opened in July 1988, the now-defunct system connected Sydney’s central business district with Chinatown and the thriving Darling Harbour neighbourhood, utilising eight stations that served a number of attractions including the Sydney Aquarium, Powerhouse Museum and the city’s convention centre.
(Image: DearEdward; abandoned Darling Harbour station in 2014, the year after closure)
The seven-carriage trains took 12 minutes to complete a full circuit. Station stops lasted for 40 seconds and Swiss industrial group Von Roll Holding AG built six monorail trains capable of seating 48 passengers each. But not long after the system opened it became clear that passenger counts were lower than expected and the controversial monorail – the construction of which was believed by many to have been politically motivated – began its slow decline.
(Image: Hpeterswald; Sydney Monorail while still operational)
As Deb Kelly wrote previously on Urban Ghosts: “In its last few years, the Sydney Monorail wasn’t without problems. In 2010, two trains collided at the Darling Park station, and in 2012, a system shutdown stranded around 100 passengers on the network. Today, what’s left of the abandoned monorail stands eerily silent.”
(Image: Hpeterswald; dismantling the abandoned Sydney Monorail in September 2013)
“Closure came in June of 2013, with some of the track being dismantled and a handful of trains having been re-purposed into meeting rooms for Google. By the end of 2013, the track was gone with much of it being recycled into the construction of a temporary bridge.”
(Image: Ambanmba; removing the defunct stock)
These photographs show the abandoned Sydney Monorail’s stations and steel box girder track being swiftly dismantled in late 2013. Critics of the New South Wales city’s transportation misadventure claimed that a light rail system would have cost $20 million less to build than the monorail, and could have serviced more passengers at a cheaper price per person.
(Image: Jpatokil; monorail train crosses Darling Bridge a month before closing in 2013)
Though the abandoned Sydney Monorail has now been mostly removed, much of its rolling stock has been repurposed or sold to private buyers. In January 2015, 22 carriages were sold on Gumtree for $3,000 each. Eleven more are understood to have been preserved, while two others are used as meeting rooms by Google at the internet giant’s Pyrmont office in inner-city Sydney.