Long the iconic transportation symbol of Seattle, the monorail system was constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair. Seattle’s monorail vehicles were the last and most technically advanced vehicles designed and built by the firm of Alweg-Forschung, GmbH (Alweg) of Cologne, Germany. The primary train operating systems and components were supplied by major US transit system equipment vendors of that era, including G.E., WABCO, and Rockwell. The two, 4-car train’s original layout and function generally conformed to US transit rail equipment standards and design practices of the early 1960s. However, during 45-years of near-continuous, revenue operation that included upgrades, piecemeal refurbishment projects and accident/incident repairs, many changes were made to the original design with varying levels of success and documentation. In 2007, a small team of Seattle Monorail staff and consultants identified the vehicle systems and components that were most urgently in need of replacement or overhaul given the limited funding and time available for completion of design work, preparation of contractor bid documentation and construction. Project funding was primarily via a grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), supplemented by the City of Seattle. The historical significance of the Seattle Monorail was at the center of the refurbishment program, with great care in functional design, aesthetics and construction being exercised throughout the program until completion in 2010. The modernization included the installation and integration of: communications-based train control; programmable logic controllers (PLC’s) for auxiliary systems; redundancy and interlocking of key safety-related components; streamlined controls that lead to significant weight savings and increased reliability; modern components to address ADA compliance; and ergonomic Driver Cabs. This report discusses the Seattle Center Monorail Refurbishment Program given the unique opportunity to modernize two historic pieces of transportation rolling stock that is anticipated to run in revenue service for the next 45 years.

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