From the Orlando Sentinel:
Walt Disney World is preparing to expand its iconic monorail system — at least a little bit.
Disney said Tuesday it will build a 62-foot maintenance spur off of the system’s Epcot line to serve as a permanent staging area for one of the work tractors used by the resort to tow broken-down trains and inspect and repair track.
The extension will be built next to an existing track switch that is used to transfer trains between the Epcot line and a separate spur leading to one of the system’s two Magic Kingdom loops. Disney currently keeps all of its work tractors in a maintenance bay behind the Magic Kingdom.
The expansion plans were first reported by The Monorail Society, an organization that promotes the use of monorails.
Disney said it wants to have a tractor permanently stationed near the Epcot line in order to allow workers to begin inspections of that track earlier in the evening. Right now, crews typically must wait until the Magic Kingdom closes before they can dispatch a tractor to the Epcot line.
The Magic Kingdom is usually open several hours later than Epcot each night.
“We can begin our routine inspections of the Epcot beam as soon as the Epcot line cycles down for the night, before the Magic Kingdom park closes and with no impact to guests,” Disney World spokesman Bryan Malenius said.
Another advantage: The new spur should allow for faster responses when a tractor is needed to tow a broken-down monorail train to a station.
Last December, several of Disney’s trains were brought to a standstill after a computer hard-drive failure shut off power across the 15-mile-long monorail system. About 300 passengers were left stranded by the power outage, which occurred at about 1 a.m.; the last of them weren’t evacuated until close to 4 a.m.
Malenius said the addition will make it easier to get tractors to monorail trains that are stuck anywhere along the Epcot line or on the outer Magic Kingdom loop near the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Construction crews will begin excavation work soon. Disney expects to complete the project by the end of the year.