Overhead conveyor

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Test track in Cologne-Deutz (1897; system by Eugen Langen )

An overhead conveyor is a track-guided means of transport ( rail vehicle ), in which the vehicle is suspended from at least two points below the load-bearing, rigid track and can oscillate around a longitudinal axis above the vehicle due to this suspended construction. They are thus a sub-category of monorails . On the other hand , this does not include trolleys where the load only hangs at one point on the load-bearing track, which enables pendulum movements in all directions, and neither do ropeways whose load-bearing element is not rigid.

Since the supporting structures are complex to build, overhead trolleys are only used in some densely populated cities in local public transport , but more often for industrial applications, where they can often be implemented cheaply under hall ceilings or as free-standing overhead crane tracks .

A suspension railway across a body of water is called a transporter bridge :


In Germany, suspension railways were first technically implemented in Cologne, Wuppertal and Dresden.


Three carrying systems

Type 1 : Drive set for the Wuppertal suspension railway : the wheels ride on the rails
Type 2 : Hollow rail & inner rollers Here (here principle of a curtain rail )
Type 3 : Monorail overhead conveyor on double T-beams from mining

The suspension can in principle be realized in three different ways:

  1. Type 1 : One-sided hanging device in a curve around the support rail as with the Wuppertal suspension railway
  2. Type 2 : Hollow rail with inner rollers like the H-Bahn (also the first system from Eugen Langen from 1894)
  3. Type 3 : I-beam with external rollers (preferred for simple industrial systems)

The latter two principles are also found in the installation of curtains and drapes. A derailment is structurally excluded with the hollow rail and the rigid I-beam. In addition, mostly horizontal guide rollers ensure stabilization and easier running.

Type 1: One-sided hanging device in the arch

A wheel, or better a single-track chassis with two wheels in a row, drives on a rail and must prevent it from sliding off the rail, e.g. B. by a double crown wheel. This design was realized according to the design by Eugen Langen , among others for the Wuppertal suspension railway and its sister in Dresden . The principle can also be found in the suspension system in Tokyo Ueno Zoo and the suspension system in Memphis . The hanging device is guided around the rail and its supporting structure in an arc on only one side. If necessary, horizontally running guide rollers can prevent the vehicle frame from swinging against the rail, which must then be compensated for by a joint below.

Type 2: hollow rail with inner rollers

A pair of inner rollers run inside a box-shaped, open-bottomed carrier, connected to an axle, at the center of which the suspension device is attached to which the vehicle is suspended. The wheels can run as iron wheels with flanges on rails inside the carrier or with rubber tires on the slotted bottom of the box-shaped carrier, which is designed as a running surface. A joint must then be attached to the suspension device in order to enable the vehicle to swing around the above-mentioned longitudinal axis. This principle was first implemented in the test track built by Eugen Langen in Cologne - Deutz in the early 1890s .

The SIPEM (Siemens People Mover) system, also known as the H-Bahn , and the Shōnan Monorail and Chiba Monorail systems in the Japanese cities of Kamakura and Chiba, built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries , have gone beyond drafts and test routes . The demonstration route of the French SAFEGE in Châteauneuf sur Loire , east of Orléans, built in 1960 and dismantled again at the end of the decade , was captured in 1966 by François Truffaut in the film Fahrenheit 451 . In August 2013, the Turkish company Türkarge Transportation built a demonstration route near Düzce and is hoping for orders.

Type 3: I-beam with externally mounted rollers

A pair of externally mounted rollers run on the lower chord of a medium-wide I-beam . Here, too, a hinge must be attached to the hanging device. This is used in the mining monorail system shown in a separate article , in which the girder is suspended from the ceiling of the tunnel with chains or ropes.

This carrying system is used in the idea of ​​a monorail, which is propagated on the "TrensQuébec" website, in which the electric drive motor is also integrated into the wheels, according to a development by the Canadian physicist Pierre Langlois.

This also includes the Aerobus developed by the Swiss engineer Gerhard Müller , in which the wheels do not run on the lower chord of an I-beam, but rather on the stiles of a horizontally floating ladder that is suspended in the middle of the rungs on a wire rope suspension bridge. This system, which borders on a cable car, is, however, guided on a rigid support in curves. The only practical application of this system was at the 1975 Federal Garden Show in Mannheim . It was dismantled again after the event. In 1987 a Fred Parks from Houston, Texas bought Gerhard Müller's patents. Aerobus International, Inc. in Houston, Texas is currently promoting the system.

Drive systems

Drive like a funicular via a pull rope
Drive with electric motors on the vehicle and power consumption via busbars
Drive with diesel or compressed air motors on the vehicle

Areas of application

Overhead monorails are the solution to transport problems wherever a high degree of independence from ground-based traffic is required, or where difficult terrain makes it difficult to create a level route on the surface of the earth. On the other hand, stations for changing passengers are becoming more expensive because they have to be built high, which also means an obstacle to the access of passengers. In addition, hanging vehicles are more at risk from cross winds than vehicles that are on a wider track on the ground. While it is pleasant for passengers when suspended vehicles automatically lean into the curve due to centrifugal force, either the travel path for higher cornering speeds must be supported on the side or the driving speed must be limited, which in turn makes use on long distances uneconomical. The H-Bahn is limited to a maximum of 50 km / h.

Overhead monorails are often used for in-house transport, since the suspended transport of loads allows optimal use of hall space for production or storage purposes. For these purposes, there are some well-engineered system solutions from various manufacturers, which are often designed as electric or cable suspension systems, especially for smaller systems, the drive using torsion shafts is also very popular.

Well-known overhead trams in public transport

Overhead trams are only used in local public transport in a few cities , as the supporting structures are complex to build, so that a lack of space is usually a decisive criterion in the case of densely populated areas. Well-known overhead monorails are:

In Europe

Web links

Wiktionary: Hängebahn  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Suspended rail transport  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


Individual evidence

  1. S. (vmtl. E. Schrödter): The Langensche suspension railway . In: Association of German Ironworkers (Ed.): Steel and iron . Journal for the German iron and steel industry. Volume 14, No. 6 . A. Bagel, Düsseldorf March 15, 1894, p. 245–250 : “The suspension railway system Langen offers two basic forms, the double-rail and the single-rail. In the two-rail arrangement, the track consists of a box-shaped longitudinal girder, preferably made in latticework, open at the bottom, which is supported by columns or supports arranged at appropriate intervals, and the rails are fastened to the lower inner straps of the side walls of the box girder. On the axles of the wheels running on these rails, bogies are suspended by means of articulated members, and the actual carriage hangs under these bogies in springs. In the single-rail basic form, the rail itself is designed like a carrier and is gripped laterally by the support. The suspension elements are expanded to form brackets, which encompass the running wheels from above and bear the bearing points of the axles on both sides. The safety seems to be guaranteed to an even greater extent here than with two rails. Of course the running wheels of this track have a flange on each side. "
  2. The monorail system produced in Turkey will put an end to the existent traffic (Video - Photo Gallery) ( English ) In: raillynews.com . August 30, 2013. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
  3. Description du monorail ( French ) In: trensquebec.qc.ca . Retrieved December 29, 2013.