Addis System Monorail

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Addis System Monorail

William Judson Addis, was the engineer to the local funds committee in Tannah (later named Thana and now Thane), a fortress town on the island of Salsette, 21 miles(34km) north of Bombay. It was also the site of the first railway to open in India with the opening of the ‘Bombay (Boribunder) to Thana’ section of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR) on 16 April, 1853 and the Tannah Viaduct which opened in 1854.

In 1869 Addis was granted a Patent [1] for a tramway with a single rail on which ran a cart with two bearing wheels which take all, or nearly all, the weight; and ordinary wheels which serve to steady the machine and prevent over-turning. The cart, loaded with three tons, was easily drawn by two bullocks [2].

In 1870 a further Patent was granted concerning improvements to the track system [3].

The advantage was the cost of the tramway with the haulage cost reduced to a minimum. The rails were laid at each side of road leaving the centre part for ordinary traffic; as the rails are only 1½ -2 inches(3-5cm) above the surface of the road they would scarcely interfere with ordinary traffic [2].

Tannah Iron Works Monorail

During 1869, in parallel with his Patent application, a demonstration line was constructed in the grounds of the Iron works at Tannah (later named Thana and now Thane), part of the line was laid at 1 in 40 incline with obstacles along the line and it had a 10ft radius curve. A pair of bullocks pulled 3 tons with ease and no mishaps [2].

Callian Bunder to Callian Monorail

A line 1¼ miles(2km) long was built to carry salt to Callian (later named Kalyan) from Callian Bunder. The motive power was again Bullocks. The line opened on the 22nd January 1870. The line was successful with two bullocks pulling 2½ tons the full length in 19 minutes [2]. How long the line remained in use is unknown.

Mhyjee Monorail

With this success in mind a further line was proposed from Mhyjee (later named Maheji [4]) a station on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR) to the site of the Mhyjee Fair a distance of 3½ miles from the station. Construction time 2 weeks [2]. It may only have been for the fair and as a working demonstration.

Further Reading

  • “Monorails of the Nineteenth Century” by Adrian S Garner page 32 and 33; ISBN 9781899889570 [5].


  1. UK Patent No 1850 Granted 14 January 1869
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 “The Engineer” 17 Jun 1870, page 377 (Graces Guide pdf 5)); Retrieved 9 May 2017
  3. UK Patent No 90 Granted 12 January 1870
  4. "Imperial Gazetteer of India", v. 17, p. 8.; Retrieved 9 May 2017
  5. Amazon Books; Retrieved 9 May 2017