Chinese sustainable technology giant BYD added another major business to its portfolio on September 1 with the opening of SkyRail, the first implementation of the company's proprietary monorail transit solution.
BYD is marketing SkyRail as a strategic solution to urban traffic congestion problems. It is a rail transit alternative with benefits including low capital cost, short construction period and low noise levels making it a short-term, cost-effective solution to traffic congestion. BYD claims SkyRail can be implemented at one-fifth the cost of a monorail system in one-third of the construction time.
The first SkyRail implementation is in Yinchuan, China's most important "smart city," and the blueprint for the country's intelligent urban development initiative spanning more than 200 smart cities.
China has the world's largest population and is urbanizing faster than any other large country in history. Just short of 60 percent of China's population now lives in cities, up from 26 percent in 1990. Currently, 40,000 people a day move into Chinese cities. That's why China is taking the opportunity to build its cities smarter, with a modern infrastructure, and why BYD is well placed to cater to China's infrastructure needs.
SkyRail is China's first straddle-type monorail system, and has been developed over the last five years at a cost of 5 billion yuan ($760 million).
Though SkyRail can run at speeds of 80 km/h (50 mph), it is so quiet in operation that it can be routed through buildings.
The initial SkyRail system in Yinchuan covers a 5.7 km (3.5 mi) route encompassing eight stations, though Yinchuan plans to extend the monorail network to more than 300 km (190 mi) over the next few years. Construction of the Yinchuan SkyRail began in April and was completed in just four months at a cost of about 600 million yuan ($92 million).
Since the announcement of the SkyRail system last October (2016), BYD has conducted feasibility studies in more than than 100 cities, including the city of Iloilo in the Philippines, and has entered into strategic partnerships with 20 cities in China, including Yinchuan, Guilin, Shantou, Guang'an and Bengbu.
Construction of SkyRail lines is expected to begin in 20 Chinese cities in 2018, with the 20 km (12.5 mi) Iloilo, Philippines SkyRail system due to go into service in 2019.