Post by Julia
This is a guest post by Ross Edgar.
The Hauser Kaibling Aerial Tram is located just south east of Schladming in central Austria. The aerial tram takes passengers from the valley station at 810m to the summit station at 1836m. It was built in 1960.
Although the cable system runs an impressive 3km up the mountain, it is predominantly used in the summer by hikers or to access the restaurant (which is integrated directly into the summit station). Even in the winter the tram is not used by many skiers as it is difficult to access and requires a short walk through town.One obvious feature of this aerial tram is its small cabin size — each vehicle holds only eight people. However, the small, unassuming aerial tram tucked away on the Alpine mountainside is of a rather unique design. Instead of operating just two cars back and forth between two stations, the system has four cabins and a third (middle) station.
At any one time there are two aerial tram cars travelling in each direction — two of which operate between the valley and mid-station (shown in red), and two of which move between the mid and summit stations (show in blue). The two lower and the two upper cabins are on opposing sides of the cable loop. Riders must switch between vehicles at the mid-station — although with no more than sixteen people on board this is a smooth and efficient transition that takes a matter of seconds.
The figure below demonstrates how a person must use two vehicles to get from the valley station to the peak of the mountain.
Essentially the Hauser Kaibling is two trams operating as one, where the red cabins are one system and the blue two cabins are another. Yet, this set up breaks the extensive distance in half without the cost of constructing and operating two entirely separate aerial tram systems. In fact, the mid-station was added after the tram initially opened as a way to double the capacity from the original two-cabin alignment.
This setup is unique for an aerial tram and has a number of advantages over a more conventional system. Firstly, by dividing the system into two segments, the Hauser Kaibling Aerial Tram allows for the provision of a middle station which adds a degree of versatility to the system and provides additional options for passengers (there is access to ground level via a flight of stairs). Moreover, the waiting time for the next aerial tram car to depart is cut in half. In addition, the operation of a single system rather than two separate systems has many advantages in terms of construction, operational and maintenance costs.
Conversely, the design of this type of tram requires that the middle station is positioned exactly halfway between the valley station and the summit station. This is a limiting factor in the design as very rarely will the desired position for a middle station be exactly in this position.
By considerably increasing the capacity of the aerial tram cars, a system of this nature could prove invaluable across long distances within an urban environment. In urban areas where traffic is not especially heavy such a setup could prove to be exceptionally cost effective as well as versatile, even if it is slightly restrictive in the positioning of the middle station.
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