An elevated railway (also known in Europe as overhead railway) is a rapid transit railway with the tracks above street level on a viaduct or other steel, concrete or brick structure. The railway may be standard gauge, narrow gauge, light rail, monorail or a suspension railway. Elevated railways are usually used in urban areas where there would otherwise be a large number of level crossings. In some elevated railways, the tracks can be seen from below.
The earliest elevated railway was the London and Greenwich Railway on a brick viaduct of 878 arches, built between 1836 and 1838. The first 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of the London and Blackwall Railway (1840) was also on a viaduct. During the 1840s there were other schemes for elevated railways in London which did not come to fruition.
From the late 1860s elevated railways became popular in US cities. The New York West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway operated with cable cars from 1868 to 1870, thereafter locomotive-hauled. This was followed by the Manhattan Railway in 1875, the Boston Elevated Railway (1887–), and the South Side Elevated Railroad, Chicago (1892–). The Chicago transit system itself is known as "L", short for "elevated". The Berlin Stadtbahn (1882) is also mainly elevated.
The first electric elevated railway was the Liverpool Overhead Railway, which operated through Liverpool docks from 1893 until 1956.
In London the Docklands Light Railway is a modern elevated railway, opened in 1987 and since expanded. The trains are driverless and automatic. Another modern elevated railway is Tokyo's driverless Yurikamome line, opened in 1995.
During the 1890s there was some interest in suspension railways, particularly in Germany, with the Schwebebahn Dresden, (1891–) and the Wuppertal Schwebebahn (1901). H-Bahn suspension railways were built in Dortmund and Düsseldorf airport, 1975. The Memphis Suspension Railway opened in 1982.
Elevated section of the Docklands Light Railway in London.
Bimanbandar station of the Kolkata Suburban Railway.
Thiruvanmiyur station of the Chennai MRTS.
LRT Line 1 heading to EDSA station of Manila Metro.
- SkyTrain (Vancouver), a partly elevated rapid transit system in Vancouver, Canada
- BTS Skytrain, an elevated rapid transit line in Bangkok, Thailand
- Changi Airport Skytrain, an inter-terminal people mover in Singapore
- PHX Sky Train, a people mover at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- Düsseldorf SkyTrain, an automated inter-terminal people mover at Düsseldorf International Airport, Germany
- ATL Skytrain, a people mover at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
- MIA Mover, a people mover at Miami International Airport