Cable Transit Industry



Ropeway Redux: Highlights From Doppelmayr’s Comprehensive Magazine

The world's safest form of public transit.

According to Doppelmayr, a ropeway with a 3,600 person capacity can use as little as 0.1kWh of power to carry one passenger over 1km — the same amount of energy consumed by a hair dryer in 5 minutes!

Earlier this year, Doppelmayr Urban Solutions produced an attractively art directed brochure-cum-magazine called Ropeways in the urban environment. It compiles the many benefits of cable cars (or ropeways as they’re called in the industry) as urban transportation.

The following is a summary of the magazine’s main points. The content is very useful for anyone looking to write a top-10 list or giving a presentation. The truly time-starved can skip to the last section for the key features at a glance.

  • Ropeways complement other forms of urban transit, easily integrating into existing infrastructure. They continuously operate, so there is no need for other modes of transit to modify their own schedules just to accommodate them.
  • Service is continuous. So the other side of the first point is no schedules for ropeway passengers to memorize and adhere to, and no long waiting periods in ropeway stations.
  • They have their own dedicated and uninterrupted route. There are no traffic jams 20 metres overhead.
  • Formerly outlying neighbourhoods thrive when connected.
  • Capacity — Ropeways can carry up to 5,000 passengers per hour and direction.
  • Capacity — Cabins can carry up to 35 passengers, plus bikes, wheelchairs, strollers and baggage. In other words, they allow barrier-free access for all riders.
  • Ropeways are statistically the world’s safest means of transit.
  • They easily integrate into neighbourhoods, requiring minimal structural footprints. (Indeed, in some cities stations have been built high up in skyscrapers.)
  • They have minimal environmental impact. The Koblenz Seilbahn, consumes as little as 0.1kwh to transport one rider over a distance of 1km. This is equivalent to the amount of energy a hair dryer uses in 5 minutes.
  • To transport 10,000 passengers in an hour, you need 100 buses, 2,000 cars or one ropeway. So, for the capacity, ropeways are a cost-effective solution for cash-strapped transit authorities and city governments.
  • Robustness — Built for mountaintop conditions, many ropeway systems can continue operating in winds up to 100km/h.
  • Comfort need never be a problem. Cabins can easily be heated, cooled and supplied with infotainment systems and Wi-Fi.
  • Ropeway infrastructure is relatively easy to build and it goes up fast — perfect for already-clogged cities with lots of construction on the go and in a hurry to get moving.
  • Stations and towers can be adapted to blend in with the local architecture.
Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 12.58.03 PM

A gondola can offset a huge number of car and bus trips.


  • Ropeways can fill gaps between busy zones that generate traffic, like hospitals and other outlying infrastructure.
  • They are ideal for connecting organizationally linked facilities that are physically removed, like a campus, factory or exhibition grounds.
  • You can use them to bridge otherwise difficult-to-cross barriers, inexpensively.
  • They extend or relieve existing urban transit systems, cost-effectively.
  • Ropeways generate a new source of advertising revenue. Passengers are a captive audience for the length of their ride.
Ropeways provide barrier-free access

Ropeways provide barrier-free access.


  • Fully automatic operation
  • High capacity due to continuous operation
  • Short, low-cost construction phase
  • Minimal space requirements
  • Easy integration with existing transport systems
  • Barrier-free movement
  • World’ssafest means of transport
  • Minimal environmental impact


The magazine shows examples of urban ropeways from around the world. You can downloadRopeways in the urban environment’ free.


Materials on this page are paid for. Gondola Project (including its parent companies and its team of writers and contributors) does not explicitly or implicitly endorse third parties in exchange for advertising. Advertising does not influence editorial content, products, or services offered on Gondola Project.


Cable Transit Industry / Doppelmayr / Public Transit / Safety
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The Logistics of Transporting a Fatzer Rope

Using rope slings, a crane transports the fast-secured drum bearing 23.2 metric tons of cable bound for Korea.

Using rope slings, a crane transports the fast-secured drum bearing 23.2 metric tons of cable bound for Korea.

Recently we talked about Fatzer’s rope performance and the issue of replacing the cable on existing gondola infrastructure. We used Barcelona’s Montjuïc Cable Car as an example, quoting this client of Fatzer’s thorough satisfaction with the performance of their city’s new rope. But we didn’t consider the delivery that rope. Barcelona is over 1,000km away Fatzer’s facilities in Switzerland.

Obviously delivery is a vital part of the complicated process of getting a gondola working — but until now overlooked. We wondered just what that process really entails.

First we wanted to know how Fatzer communicates with clients around the globe — they all speak different languages — and second, just how do they deliver the ropes?

Consider the communication and transportation-safety issues.

“We communicate in their own language if we can,” says Fatzer’s logistics expert Patrick Schrämli. “If that’s not possible, we communicate in English.”

The 752-metre cable for Barcelona was delivered by truck. During transport, the rope’s very weight and how it’s wound combined forces to help keep it from prematurely unspooling. Additionally the rope was fixed onto its drum with wires and wooden wrapping. On top of all that went metal straps. The drum was lifted onto the truck with rope slings, then tightly secured before the long journey began.

That may seem like a big logistical challenge, but two times recently Fatzer delivered huge rope drums to Korea. That’s an extra 8,000km farther than the trip to Barcelona. Needless to say, those ropes did not go by truck (at least not all the way).

So heavy was this bound rope, the Fatzer team had to drive it to an airport in the next country!

This bound rope was so heavy, the Fatzer team had to drive it to an airport in the next country!

If not by truck, how did Fatzer actually delivery the ropes?

The first delivery was back in May. “The logistics experts at Fatzer had to provide an express solution,” says Alexander Strauch, Fatzer’s Head of Marketing & Communications. “The 650-meter-long, eight-strand OCTURA rope was shipped by air from Zurich directly to Korea.” The total weight was 4.6 metric tons.

Sometimes numbers can confuse rather than clarify things, so consider: By our rough calculations, this drum of wound rope totaled over a third of the weight of the passengers on a fully peopled Airbus A300*.

That too seems like an impressive shipment until you learn of the next, executed just a few weeks ago. Fatzer flew another rope to Korea but this one weighed 23.2 metric tons. That’s nearly the weight of all the 400 passengers on a fully loaded 747.

This time “the rope was simply too heavy to be dealt with at Zurich airport” says Schrämli. Instead it had to be transported by truck over 600km farther to Vienna, Austria. There, the rope was moved from the truck to the plane by crane — overseen by the airport’s specialists, who are used to such logistical freight challenges. Once the plane arrived in Korea, Fatzer’s client took over responsibility for its transport.

“Deliveries by air are exceptions” for Fatzer says Schrämli. “We normally transport our ropes by truck (Europe) or sea (overseas). The heaviest rope we handled recently was 145 metric tons.”

That’s over a third of the weight of an empty 747.

In Korea, Fatzer’s client will meet the shipment, having arranged transport from there.

In Korea, Fatzer’s client will meet the shipment, having arranged transport from there.

Materials on this page are paid for. Gondola Project (including its parent companies and its team of writers and contributors) does not explicitly or implicitly endorse third parties in exchange for advertising. Advertising does not influence editorial content, products, or services offered on Gondola Project.

* According to Wikipedia, the average European weighs 70.8 kg. So if an Airbus A300 were filled to its capacity of 200* passengers without luggage, those flyers would add just over 14 metric tons (link).


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Public Transit: Safety Should Never Be Compromised

Sometimes you forget how incredibly awesome and safe cable systems are – especially when entire systems are supported by a single cable the width of golf ball.

Note: this is a repost from an original article in 2012.

Last week, guest blogger Ryan O’Connor, wrote a brief analysis on the state of HSR (high speed rail) and the potential implications and lessons cable can learn from China’s recent love affair with rail. If you haven’t been keeping up-to-date with transportation news in China, last Saturday a tragic accident occurred when two HSR trains near Wenzhou collided.

Having just recently traveled to China and experienced the comfort and convenience of HSR, I cannot imagine the pain and sorrow that the victims and their families are experiencing.

Built partly to raise national pride and joy, the entire HSR network is now under extreme scrutiny as members of the public are demanding immediate answers from the government. Unfortunately, as China continues to build and develop HSR at such an unprecedented and feverish rate, quality and safety most likely will continue to arise. Hopefully this recent tragedy will serve as a grim reminder and lesson that safety should always be the paramount priority.

While the pace of HSR and CPT development are not nearly on the same level, the fact is, cable will also continue to grow. Let us hope that the growth of CPT technology continues to develop and evolve without any major setbacks.

In fact (although I don’t have the official statistics on hand) the safety record of cable technology since its inception is  nothing short of a remarkable achievement – probably one that is neither praised enough nor one that’s given the attention it deserves.

Can you think of the last time someone died in a gondola accident as a result of mechanical failure? Last one that comes to my mind is the Peak2Peak Excalibur Gondola tower failure, but no fatalities resulted.

So to all the cable engineer dudes and dudettes that may read this blog and the supporting staff that work day and night to ensure the safety of CPT passengers, on the behalf of the Gondola Project and myself, my hat goes off to you.




New Urban Gondola in Bogota


A new urban cable car in Bogota is expected to bring about the benefits seen in La Paz's gondola system. Image via Doppelmayr.

A new urban cable car in Bogota is expected to bring about the benefits seen in La Paz’s gondola system. Image via Doppelmayr.

Bogota, Colombia’s capital city of 6.7 million residents, will be adding an urban cable car system to its transit network. Doppelmayr, the world leader in ropeways, won and signed the contract to build this aerial transport system on July 16, 2015. Similar to many other urban cable cars in South America, Bogota’s detachable gondola will be fully integrated into the city’s public transportation system. The project is scheduled for completion in the next two years.


Announcements / Cable Transit Industry / Updates
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User-Controlled Smart Glass (Electrochromic Shades) on Boeing 787 and Lessons for Aerial Cable Cars

Throughout our time on the Gondola Project, we’ve seen many transport systems install smart glass windows (i.e. Morizo Gondola in Japan and Bukit Panjang LRT in Singapore). However, these systems did not offer users the ability to control when the glass becomes “frosted” nor the amount of “frostiness”.

Enter Boeing’s newest aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner. These planes now feature what they like to call, “electrochromic shades”.

Electrochromic Shades on Boeing 787. Image by Flickr user Jun Seita.

Passengers can now choose and adjust how transparent they want their windows to be (see video below). While the “electrochromic shades” term sounds a lot like a marketing buzz word, the company is quick to point out that this design was built to improve passenger comfort and fun. And who can doubt them? I’m not sure about you, but if I boarded a plane with this tinting system, I’d certainly let all my friends and family know about it.

This Boeing case study is a great example of how innovative companies and technologies are constantly undergoing minor upgrades to improve passenger experience — something that is often lacking in the field of public transit.

While user-controlled smart glass windows cannot and should not be replicated on all transit vehicles, this feature can certainly be translated into aerial gondola systems.

Giving passengers the option to adjust the level of brightness in a cabin may not convert hordes of auto commuters into transit riders, but perhaps anything that adds a bit of “personalization” and “fun” into the often dreary public space of a transit vehicle is a welcome site.



How the London Emirates Air Line Cable Car Powers its Cabins

The issue of energy has come up a lot when we talk about urban cable systems — and for a good reason. If cable is going to succeed as the modern, comfortable, city transit technology it claims to be, then such amenities as heating, air conditioning, video screens, wifi, and two-way communication systems are going to have to be standard features.

For most of their existence, gondola were not heated, cooled, or souped-up in any way because frankly, there was no need. If you’re skiing outside all day you don’t exactly want to step into air conditioning and heating is not necessary since you’re all bundled up and only inside for a few minutes at a time. But as cable moves into the urban realm, the issue of power becomes increasingly more significant.

Can cabins be heated and cooled?

Yes. For example, London’s new Emirates Air Line cable car has air conditioning. In fact, we’ve know that it was possible for a while, having had this discussion before, we just weren’t sure how.

The solar panel is not the answer

So how do cabins get power?

First off, definitely not from the small solar panels seen on the roof of some gondolas. Since gondola cabins aren’t connected to a power source, heating and cooling, etc, is not as straight forward as say, in a subway. But this doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Last week an article came out about how the Emirates Air Line cable car in London utilizes ultracapacitors to provide power to each cabin. So there we go, voilá.

Each cabin has an ultracapacitor on the roof

But what does that mean and how does it work?

Ultracapacitors are like batteries in the sense that they both store energy. A capacitor, on the other hand, unlike a battery, can charge and discharge energy very, very quickly (like in a matter of seconds). In the case of the London gondola cabins,

“48V ultracapacitor modules fitted on top of each car [to] enable split-second, rapid energy charging of the modules on reaching the charging stations located at both turnaround points.”

Maxwell Technologies 48 V Ultra cap

Capacitors have a longer lifespan so you can repeat this process way more than with a battery — in this case, up to one million charge/discharge cycles — and they require little to no maintenance.

The rapid charge is key because it means that the capacitors can charge as the cabins pass through stations. A battery, on the other hand, would need a much longer charge period. Since the capacitor is continually charged through out the day, its physical size can be reduced. For a comparable battery system that would recharged at night, the sheer amount of batteries needed for each cabin would probably be far too heavy and too costly to be practical.

The ultracapacitors installed in the Emirates Air Line cable car were manufactured by Maxwell Technologies. The capacitors are a green technology that use electric fields, rather than chemical reactions, to store energy. The Maxwell 48V modules are the same capacitors used in hybrid buses and construction equipment. They can allow for high bursts of power needed to accelerate or to lift a heavy load (opposed to a gradual loss cruising or lowering a load) and they can quickly recapture energy from braking.

In conclusion, yes, gondolas/cable cars/aerial cable transit cabins can be individually supplied with enough energy to power temperature regulators, multi-media screens, and all the lighting necessary for your ultra-comfortable, ultra-modern, and ultra-fun cable experience. You just need to add ultracapacitors to the top of each cabin to charge everything up in the station and you’re good to go.



EcoCities and Cable: Tianjin Ecocity (Photos Summer 2011 Status)

On a recent trip to China, I had the opportunity to visit a site that few planners outside of China have yet to see. First announced in 2008, Tianjin Ecocity is a large, ecological development designed to encourage sustainable building and living practices and promote future “green” developments. Not to mention this is possibly the dream project of every modern day planner.

Located about a 90 minutes drive from the city centre, this model of sustainable urbanization is currently being built from scratch on 30 square kilometers of prime real estate. Upon completion in 2020 it is expected to house 350,000 residents, while some residents will be able to move in as early as next year.

However, 2020 is a long ways off. As we’ve seen in the past many ecocities fail to materialize (i.e. Dongtan in Shanghai) over time. So… is this place really being constructed?

You bet it is! Check it out:

Cranes, cranes galore. This is what you first see at when you drive in to Tianjin... or really any major Chinese city. Image by Nick Chu.

EcoCity proudly welcomes you. A joint venture between the Chinese and Singaporean governments. Image by Nick Chu.

I was taken aback when I realized that the EcoCity acts as a tourist site for families. Has eco-consciousness finally reached the masses in China? Or is it simply a new fad? Image by Nick Chu.

As expected, solar panels are just about everywhere you look. Image by Nick Chu.

National Animation Industry Park. Image by Nick Chu.

You can’t possibly have an EcoCity without jobs. So here it is, the National Animation Industry Park – a massive building that is expected to house over 180 animation companies. Anecdotal evidence suggests a lot of nearby industries are already in operation as well.

But what’s a city without homes? Check out these model suites! Pretty sweet patio, eh? Let’s see what’s inside… Image by Nick Chu.

Nicely decorated! Look at the furnishings… admittedly, it wasn’t what I'd expect in the middle of China. Image by Nick Chu.

Of course, living sustainably will set you back a couple of bucks – how does $300,000 USD for a 1500 square foot unit sound? Still thinking of buying one? You may be out of luck. The sales agent we spoke to told us that many units are already sold and are off the market! Keep in mind, an average migrant worker in China makes 20,280 yuan per year or $3200 USD so owning a home here is really only a pipe dream for the majority.

A model of the EcoCity. Image by Nick Chu.

As for transportation, they’re aiming for 90% of travel via sustainable forms of transport including public transit, walking and biking. A light rail system is will provide service to the entire site.

Seeing that cable is one of the most non-intrusive, most energy-efficient and most cost-effective forms of transport, if more eco-cities are planned in the future, I think gondola technology can undoubtedly offer exciting opportunities for additional multi-modality networks. In fact, with many eco-cities either being planning or currently being built from the ground up, this is a great time for cable transit to showcase it’s flexibility and versatility. Perhaps, an eco-city could utilize CPT to act as and/or complement its trunk lines. The cable industry should recognize these trends and not stand idly by. The more successful and prominent cable systems there are in the world, the more recognition and respect the technology will gain as a staple urban transport option.

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