/mon"euh rayl'/, n.
1. a single rail functioning as a track for wheeled vehicles, as railroad or other cars, balanced upon or suspended from it.
2. a railroad or other transportation system using such a rail.
3. a vehicle traveling on such a rail.
[1895-1900; MONO- + RAIL1]

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Electric railway that runs on a single rail either above or under the railway cars.

The first systems were introduced in the early 20th century; the earliest probably opened in 1901 in Wuppertal, Germany. Short-run monorails have since been built in such cities as Tokyo and Seattle. Because of higher costs and slower speeds than conventional rail systems, the monorail has not gained wide support. High-speed monorail vehicles that use magnetic levitation have been undergoing research for many years.

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      railway that runs on a single rail. This rail may be located either above or beneath the railway cars. In systems that employ an overhead rail, the cars are supported by wheeled axles that run on the overhead rail. The system is gyroscopically stabilized. In those systems that use an undercarriage rail, the cars are stabilized by guide wheels or gyroscopically.

      Experimental but not revolutionary in concept, monorail systems were first introduced in the early 20th century. In most cases, the system is propelled by conventional electric traction motors. Tokyo has a commercial monorail running from midcity to its Haneda airport, and a public transit monorail line operates in Seattle. Disneyland amusement park in California, U.S., also has a monorail.

      The Greater London Council concluded in a study of potential monorail systems for London that they offered no advantages over the usual rail systems. Critics maintain that monorails involve greater cost, unsightliness, passenger inconvenience, low speed, and inefficient switching of cars.

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Universalium. 2010.

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