In Cog and the Steel Tower, there are steam-powered monorail trains that wind through the crown city of Gorta. In our world, monorail trains are rare but very much a real thing.

Maybe the best known monorail is the Disney one.


Pretty futuristic looking, but it’s in a theme park where it’s supposed to look futuristic. But the reality is that monorails have been around for quite awhile and include steam-powered versions that may not look like the monorail in Cog’s world, but work pretty much the same.

But before we go into that, maybe it’s time to discuss what makes a monorail a monorail. ‘Mono’ means one, so a monorail is exactly what it sounds like: a train that uses a single track. The big advantage of monorails over traditional trains that have two rails is that a single rail can take up a lot less space which is important in places that are already crowded. Look how little space is taken up by this monorail in Sydney, Australia. That’s a lot more compact than a traditional track. On the downside, it can be difficult to design a switching mechanism so that monorail trains can move from one track to another.


Monorails like the one at Disney and the one in Sydney are what people generally think of when the subject of monorails comes up, but it can be any sort of train track that uses a single rail. In Cog’s world, the monorail in Gorta is suspended from a rail above it rather than riding on top of one. In our world, suspended monorails exist too. In fact the oldest still-operating monorail is suspended.


The above German monorail opened in 1901, getting new cars and upgrades as time passed and is still in operation today. Like most monorails, it gets its power from electricity carried by the rail. However, some have been powered by other means including steam engine like the monorails in Cog’s world. In fact here is a picture of a real steam monorail that operated in Ireland from 1888 to 1924.


So there aren’t any suspended, steam-powered monorails in our world, but all the technology involved is real and has been in use at one point or another.