Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lartigue is the name of a monorail system invented by the French engineer Charles Lartigue (1834-1907). The most famous Lartigue railway was the The Listowel Ballybunion Railway, which opened on 1st March 1888.
Lartigue had seen camels in Algeria carrying heavy loads balanced in panniers on their backs. This inspired him to design a new type of railway. Instead of two parallel tracks on the ground, it had a single rail sitting above the sand and held at waist height on A-shaped trestles. The carriages would sit astride the trestles like panniers.
When the Listowel Ballybunion Railway was built, locomotives had to be contstructed specially, with two boilers, in order to balance on the track. Loads also had to be evenly balanced. If a farmer wanted to send a cow to market, he would have to send two calves to balance it, which would travel back separately, therefore balancing each other.
Another problem with using the Lartigue system in populated areas was that due to the track's design it was not possible to build level crossings. In order for a road to cross the track, a kind of double-sided drawbridge had to be constructed, which required an attendant to operate it.
In 2003 the Lartigue Monorailway Restoration Committee, a voluntary organization from Listowel opened a 500 metre section of Lartigue monorail including a replica locomotive and coaches closely resembling the original design, built by Alan Keef Ltd.
Another inventor in the 1970s built a forestry railway system using A-frame rails laid directly on the ground. The locomotive incorporated a crane which could move the track panels around as required. Since the line only carry one product, it is relatively easy, like the grass hauled by the Lartigue system, to balance the loads.
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