BYD announced that the first commercial application of its SkyRail monorail mass transit solution opened for operation in Yinchuan, China, on September 1, 2017. The SkyRail system in Yinchuan is the first monorail solution installed in China that uses a straddle design where the vehicle sits on top of the monorail, hanging over both sides.
SkyRail was developed as part of a renewed R&D push by the cleantech giant, which is investing $765 million over a 5 year period into the tech. The solution is seen as a strategic push into an area of mass transit that provides cities a cost-effective alternative to tunneling underground while providing similar capability to move people around the city.
BYD Chairman and President Wang Chuanfu shared the BYD perspective on SkyRail: “mass transit systems are an indispensable solution to alleviate traffic congestion in cities.” Prior to SkyRail, BYD’s transportation products were all ground-based — such as BYD’s lineup of electric buses, electric taxi vehicles, and more recently, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty electric trucks. SkyRail takes those offerings to the next level and provides an in-between solution for city managers looking to break the cycle of congestion on the streets with another alternative mass transit solution. Mr. Chuanfu went on to share that “the launch of SkyRail in Yinchuan is setting a benchmark for SkyRail projects to come in other cities, and demonstrates how BYD’s innovative products can help alleviate traffic congestion in urban areas all over the world.”
Vice Mayor of Yinchuan Han Jianglong shared that the city sees the SkyRail system as one piece of a multilayered transit system for the city that shows the innovative spirit of the city in a bold way noting that, “it is a strategic move for Yinchuan to introduce the green, low-carbon SkyRail to promote innovation, sustainable development and industrial transformation, as well as the improvement of the city’s image.”
Compared to conventional rail solutions, SkyRail is not able to move the same volume of passengers but comes at a much lower capital cost and can be constructed much faster since the majority of the construction happens off-site and with a very small relative footprint on the ground. SkyRail also generates much less noise than conventional rail and offers a much more relaxing, scenic view of the city compared to traditional ground-based rail systems.
SkyRail launched in October 2016. Since that time, BYD has been working through feasibility studies in more than 100 cities around the world to determine if and how SkyRail is a good fit. Of those assessments, 10 cities in China have entered into strategic partnerships with BYD on SkyRail, including Yinchuan, Guilin, Shantou, Guang’an, and Bengbu. Construction will commence on an additional 20 Chinese cities in 2018 as China taps into BYD’s innovative product portfolio to further establish and improve mass transit solutions across the country.