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Social Innovation

In Harmony with the Urban Landscape:
Hitachi’s Environmentally Friendly Monorail System

Using Hitachi’s straddle-type monorail system, the Daegu Urban Railway Line 3 creates an urban railway transportation system that lets people travel from one point to another in Daegu Metropolitan City within an hour. Using environmentally-friendly technologies, the system is helping to ease traffic congestion and improve the city environment, with a positive economic impact on commercial districts and real estate near the line.

  • Transportation

Hitachi’s Advanced Technologies Help Create South Korea’s First Monorail System

Daegu Metropolitan City, the central city in the southeast area of the country, has a population of about 2.5 million. Growing population density and growing numbers of automobiles around the city had created severe traffic jams. To ease road traffic conditions and to improve access to public transportation in the north and southeast areas of the city, the governments of South Korea and Daegu Metropolitan City decided to develop an urban railway system, choosing to introduce a monorail system for the lower construction costs and lighter environmental burdens compared to subway systems.

Stretching about 24 kilometers, the Daegu Urban Railway Line 3 runs from northwest to southeast in Daegu Metropolitan City, connecting 30 stations. Since the line runs from the center of the city out to the suburbs, construction had to be done in a way to minimize negative impact on road traffic and to preserve the city’s landscape.

Hitachi first delivered trains to South Korea for the Seoul Metro Line 1, which began operating in 1974, helping address the traffic congestion typical of major cities in South Korea. Based in part on this experience, South Korea chose Hitachi’s straddle-type monorail system for its first monorail system. The country recognized Hitachi’s achievements in environmentally conscious efforts in the railway system field, including reducing noise and dust, and Hitachi’s accumulated and reliable monorail technologies, known for delivering superior transportation capabilities, reducing traffic congestion, and keeping down construction costs.

In 2007, Hitachi established a local subsidiary in Seoul for its railway system business called Hitachi Railway Systems Korea Ltd. (now Hitachi Korea Ltd.). In 2008, Hitachi received orders for key infrastructure components, including vehicles and signaling systems. In cooperation with local partners, Hitachi began working to deliver the monorail system during the following year.

The Hitachi Monorail System:
In Harmony with the Urban Environment

The monorail cars Hitachi created for the Daegu Urban Railway Line 3 project are made of aluminum alloy to improve durability while reducing weight. Aluminum alloy is recyclable, making the project environmentally-friendly. The system was built as a beam-style monorail rather than using slab-style construction, a choice that reduced costs by 30%.*1 The beam-style monorail is both narrower and more attractive than slab-style designs and has been well received by passengers for the spacious and open atmosphere it creates.*2

Opened in April 2015, the Daegu Urban Railway Line 3 Monorail has operated reliably and has helped spearhead Korea’s modernization of its public transportation systems.

The monorail has attracted more and more visitors for on-site tours and benchmark surveys from inside and outside the country. Nicknamed Sky Rail, it’s emerged as a tourist attraction, energizing the area and significantly improving Daegu’s image.

New Developments after the Opening of the Hitachi Monorail System

Introducing the Daegu Urban Railway Line 3 Monorail improved operational efficiencies for Daegu Metropolitan Transit Corporation, the railway operator. Whereas Line 1 and Line 2 require between nine and twelve staff members to operate a station, Line 3 requires just three persons per station. This is due to the ATO/ATP system, which automatically detects track signals and maintains safe operating conditions without input from a train operator. With reduced weight and other improvements, power consumption for Line 3 is about 65% lower than for Line 1 and about 80% lower than for Line 2. Since the monorail system operates above ground, Line 3 is also known for improving work conditions for railway employees.

The cumulative number of passengers on the Daegu Urban Railway Line 3 Monorail exceeded 24 million in its first year of operation since April 2015. The line is currently being used by an average of about 70,000 riders daily.*3 Changes have been made to improve safety for passengers, including sprinkler systems in the cars and features for safely evacuating passengers from the railway high above ground. At the busy Seomun Market, Sinnam, and Myeongdeok stations, doors now remain open longer to allow for passenger flow. The system also incorporates misted glass in the side windows of the passenger compartments, using liquid-crystal screens that automatically change from transparent to opaque as the monorail runs through residential neighborhoods, ensuring privacy for people living along the line.

Hitachi: Helping to Solve Traffic Congestion in South Korea’s Major Urban Cities

Starting with the delivery of its trains for the Seoul Metro Line 1, which began operating in 1974, Hitachi has sought to address traffic congestion in South Korea’s major urban cities. The new Daegu Urban Railway Line 3 Monorail has drawn attention as a new Daegu landmark, burnishing Daegu’s image as a dynamic city. Serving as a new tourism infrastructure element, it’s also creating new tourist demand. Connecting different areas of Daegu Metropolitan City, the urban railway system has made it possible to move from point to point within the city in less than an hour. Line 3 has also helped revitalize the economy of old downtown areas such as Paldal-ro, Dalseong-ro, and Myeongdeok-ro.*3

Hitachi is committed to continuing efforts to reduce traffic congestion in South Korea’s major urban cities and to enriching lives by providing transportation systems, like the monorail system for the Daegu Urban Railway Line 3, that provide both safety and convenience.

*1 Daegu IIbo (2014)
*2 Mainichi Shimbun (2012)
*3 Daegu MetropolitanTransit Corporation
“Performance Analysis One Year after the Opening of Line 3” (April 2016)