The Baden Gondelbahn

Post by Steven Dale

Image by PD via Tages Anzeiger.

This is the Baden Gondelbahn in Baden, Switzerland. It is a concept by Stephan Kalt, director of Regional Transport for Baden-Wettingen. Kalt’s concept connects the spa town of Baden with a local train station via Urban Gondola.

Officials are interested, the main question being funding. A joint private public venture is anticipated. If realized, construction is unlikely to begin for at least 4-5 years. The system would be fully integrated into the regional fare structure.

The most important aspect of this concept is its design. It’s simple and unimposing. The station design is inspired. Urban Gondolas work best with a T-intersection station configuration. Problem is, T-intersections are rare in western cities.

The Baden Gondelbahn gets around this problem by putting the station 1 story above street level connected to a skywalk. I’ve seen this concept before, but this is the best presentation of it thus far. The concept as a whole speaks to the strength of slim-profile stations and low-profile systems.

Such designs decrease negative public reaction, contribute positively to the urban fabric and decrease construction costs. The Baden Gondelbahn is estimated to cost only 20 million Swiss Francs (roughly $15 – 20 million USD, depending on what day you check the exchange rates).

The article doesn’t state how long the system is, but we can extrapolate that info easily: Based upon a given travel time of 4 minutes and the speed characteristics of MDG technology (shown in the images), we can safely assume that the Baden Gondelbahn will be between 1.5 and 2 km – an ideal length for initial projects. This gives the system a per kilometer cost of roughly $10-13 million USD.

This is an inspired concept that helps inform all other cities considering an Urban Gondola or Cable Propelled Transit system: Stay low to the ground, use your public arteries and keep your stations slim.

Image by PD via Tages Anzeiger.

Image by PD via Tages Anzeiger.

Read the original article (in German) here. Or read the comprehensible (though not comprehensive) Google English translation here.

Big thanks to my good friend David for sending me this.

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  1. I actually live in Baden, and I don't think the length of the Gondelbahn will be anywhere near 1.5 km. The distance from the station to the Bäderquartier, the spa part of the town, is at the most 10 or 15 minutes by foot, usually less. This is, by the way, the main criticism of the project: is a Gondelbahn which takes 4 minutes to get you somewhere you could get to on foot in 10 minutes really worth it? Considering it would cost us 20 million francs.
  2. Thanks so much for the additional information, Stella. If we can believe wikipedia (and often we cannot), the average walking speed is around 80 m per minute. Given that, and what you say about the spa being 10-15 minutes by foot, we see that the Gondelbahn is likely between 800 - 1200 meters. Whether the Gondelbahn is "worth it" isn't for me to say one way or another. I'm mostly interested in the low-profile characteristics of the proposal as well as the innovative station configuration. Is it "worth it"? That's for Baden (and people like you) to decide.