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Old June 18th, 2013, 05:58 AM   #381
DAJAN
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Never the rail deal

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/never-the-...617-2oehd.html

Sydney's monorail, which runs in a 3.6-kilometre loop around the fringe of the city and through Darling Harbour, which has carriages that might have travelled to the moon and back five times, which has inspired mockery and derision from adults and thrills from children and which has left tourists befuddled as to the point of it all, will ride for the last time on Sunday, June 30. It will be 25 years old.
The story of the monorail - ''one of many autocratic farces perpetuated by the powerful on our citizens,'' in the words of Nobel laureate Patrick White - is the story of the ability of NSW politicians to come up with transport ideas that annoy and bemuse people. It is the story of a small loop that has punctuated a day out for a generation of children. But it is also the story of a something novel.
In this it was both of its time and not. It was not of its time because it was built. But it was also symptomatic of what now seems like a golden age of crazy transport ideas, when not only the car, but also the bus and train and the tram seemed like yesterday's newspapers.

Broken journey: Passengers are evacuated from the monorail after a mechanical failure in 1990. Photo: Jessica Hromas
Soon after the monorail opened in 1988, reports emerged of a detailed plan by a Professor Rolf Jensen, of Adelaide, to stretch monorails right across greater Sydney, to raise them above the Hume Highway, Victoria Road, Barrenjoey Road and Military Road in the north, and along Parramatta Road to the west.
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In 1989 the business community became involved. A lobby group called the Parramatta Connection came up with the idea of a freight-only monorail network to get trucks off Sydney's roads. ''It might be possible to run a spur line from the new airport at Badgerys Creek,'' the head of the Parramatta Connection, Fred Symes, said optimistically. There was a plan for a monorail to run over the arch of the Harbour Bridge.
But the pinnacle of outlandish transport notions must be that of Hawke government's transport minister John Brown, who in 1987 proposed a monorail in the middle of the country. Brown's monorail would cut out the drive from Uluru to the Olgas.
Now, the Sydney monorail, the only one of the mid-1980s flurry of proposals that was ever built, will be torn down. Nobody wants to pay to maintain it. The carriages need replacing and the pylons need work. And the space it occupies could be better used. Taking the monorail pylons off Pitt Street will open another lane to traffic. Removing it from Pyrmont Bridge opens up the chance for a cycle path. And if it was not there it would be easier to build larger buildings in the place of the old large buildings around Darling Harbour, which is how the O'Farrell government is determined to repeat history.
Born in 1988, the monorail was conceived four years earlier out of two bully-boy fathers.
In May 1984, the Labor premier Neville Wran announced Darling Harbour, then a rundown goods yard, would be redeveloped in time for the bicentenary. Something would be done to improve transport to the site, Wran said. The minister for public works, Laurie Brereton, set to finding a solution. So did Sir Peter Abeles, the country's dominant Labor-friendly business tycoon.
Two proposals emerged as serious contenders as transport options for Darling Harbour. The race was on to pick one and build it before the royal family arrived for the 1988 party.
Abeles' TNT company, a logistics giant, put forward the monorail. It would be built above street level. It would run without drivers and cost $1 a ride. For the Wran government it had the great advantage of being offered at no cost. TNT would build it for free.
The other proposal was a light rail line, put forward by firms Transfield and Comeng. The light rail would be two lanes to extend from Pyrmont and across Pyrmont Bridge. The lanes would then head down Sussex Street and Hickson Road to Circular Quay in one direction. In the other direction they would run to a transport interchange at Central.
The National Trust supported the light rail idea, and so did environmental groups and public transport advocates. Newspaper reports also placed Bob Carr, the planning and environment minister, behind the tram line.
But Brereton backed the monorail. Almost immediately after calling for proposals, he began rubbishing the light rail in public. It would be a return to the street-clogging trams of the 1960s, he said. And in private the light rail line was never given a fair go, according to Richard Smythe, then the director of Carr's department.
Smythe recalls a meeting of a cabinet subcommittee including Brereton as minister for public works, Carr as planning minister and Barrie Unsworth as transport minister to discuss the competing proposals, with their department heads and advisers in the room.
''As I recall at that first meeting we were discussing ways each proposal might be evaluated and compared but the matter went no further as it all ended when Laurie Brereton came into the meeting and announced that the decision had been made to go with the monorail, essentially to the proponent with the most clout or influence, led by TNT,'' Smythe said.
Asked about this episode last year, and whether he had supported the tram line, Carr said he had only a slight memory of it.
''Of course the route it took would not have got people directly from the middle of the CBD into the new retail activity planned for Darling Harbour but linked the Quay with DH, which I guess would have been seen as a bit circuitous,'' the Foreign Minister said of the light rail in an email.
''The challenge was a link that would move people in useful numbers from the heart of the CBD into the new precinct,'' Carr said. ''It certainly would have been more popular than the monorail which became a vote-loser for an embattled 12-year-old government.''
Vote loser or not, Brereton pushed on. TNT's proposal won formal cabinet selection in October 1985, with - in another version of history repeating - Brereton relying on a report by the then fledgling Macquarie Bank to justify the selection.
People hit the streets. There was Patrick White, Ita Buttrose, actor Ruth Cracknell, the unionist and activist Jack Mundey. Even Liberal opposition leader Nick Greiner turned out to protest against the monorail before and during construction.
Greiner called the project ''an environmental insanity and a planning absurdity.'' Architect Harry Seidler said it was ''the most tragic thing that has happened to the urban fabric of Sydney''. For Mundey it represented "the rape of our city".
But Brereton, who dubbed the protesters a ''trendy minority'', would not shift. ''The monorail is the best and most efficient form of transport to link Darling Harbour with the city and this government will not allow 12 million people to walk to Darling Harbour in 1988,'' he said in 1986.
Construction was difficult. The monorail was to have opened for passenger use in January 1988, in time for a visit by Prince Charles and Princess Diana. But it is hard to dig underground in a crowded city that has kept poor records of what goes where. As builders started to carve holes in CBD streets to support monorail pylons, they struggled to know what was underneath.
Greg Glancy, one of the five men signed up to act as operations managers when the monorail started, remembers walking the track daily in the last year of construction.
''The drawings I think came from Town Hall,'' Glancy said. ''And where they indicated the utilities were underground was in error in many, many cases. So you would make arrangements for the re-arrangement of Telecom services, as it was then, and you would turn up to discover there was no Telecom but there was gas, water or electricity,'' he said.
(This is something for the current Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, to think about as she embarks on a project to rip up George Street for a tram line. One time, Glancy recalls, builders were about to drill near Market Street when they were told by the Commonwealth Bank there was a vault underneath.)
By July 21, 1988, the monorail was ready for passenger service, though the promise of driverless trains was scotched for safety reasons. And in the months that followed, Brereton and his critics would to some extent be proven right. On the downside, the thing kept breaking down. Within five months, the monorail had been closed nine times. In the worst incident, 360 people had to be lifted from its cars in a cherry picker.
''It was very stressful until I got used to having microphones up my nose and cameras in my face,'' says Ron Ward, who as general manager of TNT Harbourlink ran the monorail for its first decade. ''Every time we sneezed it got reported up down and every which way.''
But in August 1988 a Morgan poll of 600 Sydney residents gave it 60 per cent approval. Subsequent polls returned similar results.
It struggled in business terms. Darling Harbour had failed to develop and flourish as planned. And other catchment areas that would have drawn passengers, like World Square, remained construction sites for years.
''We just never had the patronage figures that were predicted,'' Ward said. ''We realised the route was always fundamentally flawed. It didn't go to enough places. At one point in time there was an aspiration we would run down to Circular Quay. That would've been a totally different establishment.''
But there were achievements. Within a few years, says Ward, the monorail at least started to turn an operating profit, even if it was never going to pay its construction costs. And there were breakthroughs. Wayne Ferguson, who with Glancy was hired out of the navy to work on the monorail's initial operation, would in time become the company's first marketing manager where he developed the monorail smartcard for regular users.
''That was the first debit card fare system in Australia,'' said Ferguson. ''That was my baby.''
Ferguson got the idea from the magnetic strip on his library card. He got in touch with the Canadian firm that provided the strips, and got them to produce something for the monorail.
''We came up with the vending machines that they have at the stations, where you could not only purchase a card but top it up there.'' This was some achievement. It will not be until 2015 when the Opal Card is spread across the city that the rest of Sydney's transport system will be able to boast this.
The monorail, while never universally loved, was also never as loathed as it was in its first year or so. By the early 1990s it was still attracting about half the patronage that was predicted. But it was never in serious danger of being torn down, even if aspiring council politicians such as Clover Moore and Frank Sartor regularly disparaged it. (Greiner, having come to power, soon dropped plans to change its route. They would have been expensive.)
It found a lucrative new revenue stream by advertising on the outside of carriages. When Abeles' TNT was broken up and sold in 1998, Ward sold the monorail to an infrastructure fund, which owned it until last year when the O'Farrell government bought it so it could knock it down to make way for the revamp of Darling Harbour. This was only after its carriages had travelled an estimated 4,500,000 kilometres, the equivalent of five return lunar holidays.
And so was it worth it? Maybe not if you consider what Sydney might have had instead. Had Brereton, Carr, Wran and Unsworth adopted the alternative light rail proposal, this might have formed the basis of a serious transport system. Berejiklian is trying to put trams through the middle of the CBD. If the Wran government had done this for her, she might be now extending them to Leichhardt.
Ward, the general manager for 10 years, calls the monorail ''an interesting experiment but not a raging success''. ''Monorails … they're kind of an entertainment.''
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Old June 18th, 2013, 07:50 AM   #382
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In the print edition, they say the photo is from 1990 but I'm sure the monorail trains were still draped in their TNT Livery. It has to be years later.

I think I may have a clipping of the first breakdown with commuters from 1988.

Surprised too they didn't mention about the NIMBY's calling it "Monsterrail".
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Old June 18th, 2013, 11:47 AM   #383
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I have an enduring memory of the monorail.

It was the night before the Australia day celebrations in 1988.

Massive crowds clogging every street. And up there on the partially completed monorail was a guy walking going "mono! rail!"..

Obviously not too drunk to climb up there and not fall off. But decidedly merry.
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Old June 21st, 2013, 05:53 PM   #384
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Old July 8th, 2013, 04:03 AM   #385
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Monorail trains will be decomissioned today.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 06:00 AM   #386
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The final weekend of the Monorail netted $70,000. That means about 14,000 people rode it over the last weekend.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 10:24 AM   #387
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No time wasted removing the monorail:
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Old July 8th, 2013, 11:28 AM   #388
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Donations to charity
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Old July 8th, 2013, 11:30 AM   #389
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no reason to delay, the sooner they finish, the sooner they collect the cheque.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 12:34 PM   #390
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abesty View Post
Donations to charity
Why did they do this? I don't want my money going to charity I want it going to transport improvements.
I should claim back my fare as a charitable donation.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 02:45 PM   #391
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avatar View Post
Why did they do this? I don't want my money going to charity I want it going to transport improvements.
I should claim back my fare as a charitable donation.
Wow, you really are insufferable.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 03:38 PM   #392
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exocet View Post
Wow, you really are insufferable.
Supporting those money-hungry charities is just terrible what a rort. I can't believe good public money is going to these wasteful, no-good charities, anyone would think they were struggling for funds
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Old July 8th, 2013, 03:48 PM   #393
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*...and dances about on its grave, playing a violin...*

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Old July 8th, 2013, 03:49 PM   #394
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Btw, I wondering if I can make money on ebay selling "pieces of the monorail"? Hmm..
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Old July 8th, 2013, 03:55 PM   #395
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So no one make and sell some limited edition monorail souvenir.
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Old July 9th, 2013, 06:01 AM   #396
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Quote:
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Supporting those money-hungry charities is just terrible what a rort. I can't believe good public money is going to these wasteful, no-good charities, anyone would think they were struggling for funds
That is a sad post to read Avatar. I think they were excellent choices for the money to go to.
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Old July 9th, 2013, 07:06 AM   #397
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I think Avatar has highlighted with his second post that it was all tongue in cheek.
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Old July 10th, 2013, 11:37 PM   #398
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I think Quentin Dempster was happy to see the Monorail go.

7.30 NSW (28/6/2013)

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Old July 18th, 2013, 12:58 PM   #399
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The Sydney Morning Herald (18/7/2013): Sydney's Monorail steel beams are set to be recycled and may be used for buildings projects within the city.

Demolition works begin on August 12 starting with the section running through Darling Drive.

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/monorail-b...717-2q3vm.html
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Old July 20th, 2013, 04:42 AM   #400
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Monorail a hit in Google search for innovation

Quote:
Google, the search engine and employer famous for ''innovative'' work practices, may have found something practical to do with it. Or at least part of it.

Google, it can be revealed, is negotiating to buy one of the monorail's carriages.

It is unclear what the internet firm wants to do with the carriage it is negotiating for. But industry gossip has it slated for a meeting room.
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''They have been talking to us - they do all sorts of weird and wonderful things, don't they,'' said Nick Giannikouris, the director of Metropolitan Demolitions, the St Peters company that won the contract to remove the monorail.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/monorail-a...#ixzz2ZXuLVoq0
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