The Minirail is an automated monorail system in Montreal. The network was originally built for Expo 67, and continued to operate for Man and his World through 1971. The short La Ronde route is still operational at the amusement park.
The main part of the system was the “Blue” Minirail on Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame. There were also two smaller loops: the “Yellow” Minirails. The minimum system radius was 50 feet (15 m), and maximum grade 10%.
The larger Minirail was laid out to pass as many major points as possible. Stations were named for nearby major attractions, and all names were bilingual. The 4.2-mile (6.8 km) circuit had six stops at four stations, Agriculture and Theme being served twice. Although on an elevated structure up to 40 feet (12 m) above the ground for most of its length, the line also swung out over the water near the Quebec pavilion, dropping to within 6 feet (1.8 m) of the St. Lawrence. It also ran through the Ontario pavilion and the geodesic dome of the U.S. Pavilion. The track structure was designed by the Swiss firm of Maschinenfabrik Habegger and fabricated on-site by Dominion Bridge Company. The running rails were twin 21-inch (533 mm) × 8 1⁄4-inch (210 mm) “I” beams 21 3⁄4 inches (552 mm) apart, supported on A-frame pylons on 50-foot (15 m) centres, reduced to 34 feet (10 m) on curves.
The Île Sainte-Hélène Yellow Minirail ran around a 1.1-mile (1.8 km) loop on the west end of the island that connected Metro station on the Blue Minirail to the Expo Express’ Île Sainte-Hélène station. After leaving the latter station the route swung over a corner of Swan Lake. Both this and the La Ronde loop were built by Mojan Ltée.
The La Ronde Yellow Minirail is also on Île Sainte-Hélène, but was completely separate from the rest of the system. It circles the amusement park, and its 1.3-mile (2.1 km) route also passes the Marina and runs in between Dolphin Lake and the Saint Lawrence River.
Passengers rode in open cars that carried a maximum of 12 people in each. Multiple cars made up a single train.
The Yellow Minirails received their nicknames from the colour of the cars’ canopies. Twelve 16-car trains operated on each line. Each train seated 60 in its 105-foot (32 m) length. Also designed by Habegger, these cars were built in 1964 for the Swiss National Exhibition held that year in Lausanne. Originally controlled by an on-board operator, they were converted to automatic operation for Expo 67. Additional cars were purchased from the manufacturer, Von Roll Seilbahnen AG. to replace the rolling stock and rail from Lausanne that were sold to Blackpool's Pleasure Beach. The Yellow Minirails ran on a pair of outward-facing 3 1⁄2-inch (89 mm) × 12-inch (305 mm) “C” channels, 4 9⁄16 inches (116 mm) apart and supported on A-frames.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Minirail.|
- Minirail at La Ronde Official Website
- Novelty Monorails - Expo '67 by David B. Simons Jr.
- Transit History of Montreal, Quebec. All-Time List of Canadian Transit Systems, David A. Wyatt