Communication on the Rails: Challenges

Working on the monorail platform is a different job every day. While the job tasks generally never change, certain circumstances often arise in which the task or situation must be adapted to accommodate for them. For example, a train might go out of service or a guest may need special assistance. When these circumstances arise, monorail operators must be ready to appropriately handle them and communicate effectively.

One major challenge we encounter is a train malfunction. The monorail trains carry thousands of guests each day, and issues are bound to occur. If one train on a beam has an issue, the rest of the trains cannot move on that same beam until the train’s issue is resolved. Depending on how large the issue is, we may need to close the station until the issue is resolved. If the issue can be quickly fixed, such as a hatch cover down, we will simply inform all guests on the platform that there will be a slight delay in train movement. If a major malfunction occurs, the beam is closed completely until the train is taken to the monorail shop.

green towed.jpg
In this instance, Monorail Green (the monorail I was able to drive ironically) is being towed back to the monorail shop via tractor. If the train malfunctions to the point where it cannot move to shop on its own, the beam is closed and monorail operators must accommodate guests on-board the train and on the platforms. Guests on-board are dropped off at the nearest station before the tow, and guests on the platform are directed to an alternate mode of transportation. (via

Another major challenge we come across are “accidental handpacks.” As seen in my earlier training posts, handpacks are used to de-energize the beam for safety reasons. Since monorail operators are constantly moving while either putting ramps down for guests or clearing trains, handpack buttons are often pressed accidentally. Once this occurs, power must be immediately restored. An unloader must run up to the console to restore power and notify Central. Other cast members on the platform must give the unloader the “ready for power” hand signal. The beam is then ready for train movement. However, sometimes a handpack is pressed when the train is coming in the station. If this occurs, the train sometimes malfunctions and additional action (as seen in the above paragraph) is required.

As seen above, the monorail beams are complete-circuit loops. Therefore, if one train is malfunctioning, other trains on the same beam must hold until the train is operating properly. (via

A third challenge that requires specific action is when Magic Kingdom and/or Epcot receive large crowds and reach capacity (especially during the upcoming holiday season). If this occurs, we must modify queues on audience control and sometimes change which sides of the train we load and unload guests from at the Magic Kingdom. Leaders and coordinators make these decisions, and monorail platform operators must follow through with them. Sometimes, guests become tired from waiting in line and request courtesy wheelchairs. If that is the case, we must call other platforms and notify them which car and train they will be exiting. Therefore, we will have a chair readily available for them when they exit the monorail.

Unique circumstances that are completely unpredictable include emergencies. If a train or guest emergency occurs, we must de-energize the beam(s) and/or call 911, depending on the circumstance.

As with any job, the unpredictable occurs nightly on the monorail. No amount of training can prepare for the real experience, but it is good to be aware of the surrounding area and know available resources. Working and communicating with other platform operators, the pilots, the coordinators, and the Monorail Central Control contribute to the success of the operations no matter what the situation may be.




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