'Futuristic' monorail proposed for Derby

A monorail Image copyright Bombardier
Image caption Derby manufacturer Bombardier is building monorail trains for Cairo

A "futuristic" billion-pound monorail, inspired by one being built for Egypt's ancient pyramids, is being proposed to connect Derby to a possible HS2 hub.

City council leader Chris Poulter said the highway in the sky would run people from the city centre to the high-speed rail station in Toton, Nottinghamshire.

Mr Poulter said the scheme was "quite futuristic stuff" and was one of several alternatives being considered.

However, rail experts said a monorail could "disfigure Derby".

'Not a tourist attraction'

Mr Poulter said the idea, which is not yet a formal proposal, would take passengers to Toton via the business and sports district at Pride Park.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said a review of the HS2 project was in progress.

Mr Poulter said a monorail would be a faster and less intrusive connection than a tram and added the council could call on the expertise of Derby manufacturer Bombardier, which is building monorail trains for Cairo, Egypt.

"Bombardier are making monorail carriages for the pyramids, so why can't we have something like that in Derby?" he said.

The face of the future?

Image caption The zoofari monorail at Chester Zoo is due to close
  • A monorail is a single-track rail line that often runs elevated above streets
  • Monorails have made appearances in 20th Century sci-fi films and, famously, in an episode of The Simpsons
  • They usually run at tourist attractions and airports, including Birmingham, although some - such as Chester Zoo's famous "zoofari" experience - are set to close
  • Urban monorails are uncommon - there are none in the UK. In UK cities trams and light railways are more frequently used
  • "Monorails seem like a good idea but they really dominate the city landscape," said Sim Harris, editor of Railnews

Plans for a similar system were discussed more than a decade ago.

The council has not yet commented on how the cost of the new scheme - expected to be billions - could be met but said the (DfT) was encouraging innovative modes of transport.

Will Tanner, a director of Bombardier, said the idea was "certainly feasible".

"We have the technology to do it, so why not?" he said.

However Sim Harris, editor of Railnews, said monorails were often, "appallingly obtrusive" and that Derby would be better considering a light railway to connect it with HS2.

"Monorails have never been a tremendous success in the past," he said.

"The one being built in Egypt is a special case because that's a tourist attraction but a link between Derby and Toton is not going to be a tourist attraction.

"I hope it doesn't happen because I think it will disfigure Derby. I would urge the council to consider the consequences."

A DfT spokesman said: "We recently issued a consultation on light rail, to seek new ideas and concepts for introducing innovative forms of transport into our towns and cities."

He added the decision whether to introduce a monorail in Derby would rest with the city council.

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