The Bolzano 3S (Funivia del Renon), Part 1

Post by Steven Dale

Image by Steven Dale

Back in January I drew attention to the Funivia del Renon in Bolzano, Italy. I suggested that it was likely a strong Urban Gondola system for teaching us about how to blend the stations into the surrounding urban fabric. Those comments, however, were made second-hand based on the few images and videos I could find of the system.

This past weekend, however, I had the opportunity to visit the Bolzano 3S in person. This is what I found. Note: This is Part 1 of a 3 part series of posts. Click here to read Part 2. Click here to read Part 3.

The gorgeous Bolzano terminal of the Funivia del Renon. Image by Steven Dale.

Introduction: The Good & The Bad

Built by Leitner (of the Poma-Leitner group), the Funivia del Renon (or Rittner Seilbahn for our German-speaking readers) is that company’s first foray into the realm of 3S cable systems and it shows.

The Funivia is a study in contrasts: both fascinating and infuriating all at the same time. It demonstrates all the potential cable has to offer the urban environment while undermining that potential with remarkably bad decision-making.

The system just seems so poorly misconceived. The high-cost technology used is utterly unjustified by the capacities involved. Decisions, meanwhile, regarding capacity and queue design make the system unpleasant to experience (a point which Part 3 of this series will focus on almost exclusively).

But if nothing else, the Funivia is beautiful. Shockingly, admirably beautiful. The stations are nothing short of stunning with near-perfect integration into the surrounding urban fabric. Contemporary design and architectural flourishes, meanwhile, befit its northern Italian location making the station-going experience something that transcends the utilitarian.

Despite the urban location of its lower terminal, the system can hardly be considered urban transit. The system is primarily used by tourists for resort purposes (yet with a surprisingly cheap round trip fare of only €3.50), connecting Bolzano to a small village at the top of the Ritten/Renon mountain. Nevertheless, the way in which the vehicles engage the urban fabric at the edge of Bolzano’s historic downtown suggests numerous possibilities for the urban environment.

The Funivia del Renon is half urban, half resort. The mountain terminal is located in a small resort village whereas the city terminal is located on the edge of downtown Bolzano. Image by Steven Dale.

Funivia Stats

  • Speed: Up to 26 km/hr.
  • System Length: 4.5 km.
  • Stations: 2 terminals
  • Capacity: 550 pphpd.

I’ve yet to find any reports on the cost of the system either from an operational or capital perspective. Maybe some of our German or Italian-speaking readers have come across those numbers. If so, please post them below in the comments.

Click here to read Part 2.

Click here to read Part 3.

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  1. Should i add that this system in particular operates in a never before seen pulsed-detachable mode, to reduce the terminals' length. The way this works is that when a cabin is departing or arriving at a terminal, the whole system (cable and conveying tires at terminals) slow down to a cable speed of 3 meters per second. The rest of the time the system operates at 7 meters per second. That's why there's also a lot of dwell time, because a cabin must depart exactly at the same time another cabin is arriving, otherwise the whole system would have to slow down twice as much. That explains the low capacity and the high dwell time. If the system operated like for instance the peak to peak 3s or like any MGD or BGD in fact, the acelerating and decelerating ramps would have to be much longer, therefore the original architecture would be compromised, and it all would have been quite more expensive.
  2. Diego, Thanks so much for this! I'd noticed the slow-down while in the cabins, but figured it had more to do with wind. I also noticed the short distance of the stations but had no idea how they accomplished it. Could you elaborate on this more? How high could you push the capacity? Do you have a source for the info? Do you have a price for the system?
  3. Dave, Here is an article in German and English which describes the system including technical details and evacuation systems. AFAIK they use some towers of the old aerial tramway so a the price cannot compared to a new system. http://www.isr.at/downloads/download_4445.pdf You also find more interesting articles in isr.at in English language.