Post by Steven Dale
The small Breton city of Brest, France will enter the small club of cities around the world with an urban gondola system to call their own.
Back in December of 2011, the topographically-challenged city of 140,000 inhabitants approved plans to proceed with a short gondola system spanning the city’s harbour and Penfeld River.
The system is modest with only 2 stations, and ~ 410 meters in length. It’s primary purpose is to connect the left bank of the city with the future neighbourhood of the Capuchins. Befitting the areas naval heritage, the system will operating at a height of 60 meters to allow naval ships to pass underneath.
Reports state the system will cost ~ €15m and will be fully-integrated with the city’s existing public transport network – which, as we often point out on The Gondola Project, is a must for urban gondola systems to be optimally effective.
Of the many reports about this system, one thing catches my eye. Apparently the system will include “deux trains de trois cabines de 20 places transporteront les passagers toutes les 3 minutes, pour une durée du trajet estimée à environ une minute.”
Now, if Google Translate is right (and it often isn’t), we’re talking about a system characterized by “two sets of three cabins of 20 seats will transport passengers every 3 minutes for a journey estimated at about one minute” (thanks Google Translate!).
Regular readers will immediately spot something amiss here.
If that quote/translation is to be believed, that means this is a Pulsed Gondola configuration. As we’ve discussed before, Pulsed Gondolas rarely have any useful purpose in urban environments due to their (relatively) long wait times, low capacities and inability to turn corners. This, however, is exactly the kind of situation where a pulsed situation is useful.
Due to the extremely short distance of the line, the wait time and capacity issue is largely eliminated. That allows project planners to leverage the (relatively) low costs of a pulsed system while minimizing the negatives associated with the technology.
If this all pans out, it will be the first known pulsed gondola to be fully-integrated into a public transportation agency – and worthy of our attention.
Having said that however, the youtube video of the system that’s making the rounds seems to show a Funitel-based technology arranged in a Pulsed configuration:
We’ve seen configurations like this before, but they’re rare.
To be honest, the only system I know of that uses such a set-up is the Bouqetin Funitel in Val Thorens, France. I’ll also admit that I have no idea what the advantages of the system are. Presumably, it leverages the low-cost of the pulsed system with the high wind stability of the Funitel. I also suspect that they’re arranged in a Dual Haul configuration to allow for round-the-clock operations.
Those comments, however, are pure speculation and I’d love for other readers to chime in with their thoughts because this thing is certainly an oddball.
No matter what, you can be sure we’ll follow this one closely.
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