Design Considerations



Special Gondola Design: Cantilevered Towers

Cantilevered tower design maximizes use of airspace above existing roads. Image from Google Streetview.

Thanks to our readers and the internet, documenting unique designs for Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) systems are now easier than ever before. Notable examples that immediately come to mind include the Finnish Sauna Gondola, the Singaporean Skyscraper Station and the Chinese Arching Roadway Tower.

Unfortunately, it seems that lax record keeping in the industry has meant that many unique ropeway designs created in the past have been largely lost and/or just simply forgotten.

Most recently, reader Conrad W (re)discovered and shared with us a fascinating cantilevered tower design on the Poços de Caldas Teleférico in Brazil. Having reviewed countless urban gondola proposals in the past, we know that this tower design has been theoretically discussed but this is the first instance where we’ve seen its implementation in real life — and it is for this exact reason why this discovery is exciting.

Tower designs examined for the San Diego Bay to Balboa Park Skyway. Screenshot from Feasibility Report.

For those working in the city-building industry, theoretical design solutions are great for sparking lively conversations but unfortunately, most cities are incredibly risk-averse when it comes to adopting new forms of infrastructure. Having real world examples allows project proponents to demonstrate that a design is tested and proven.

For urban planners and designers, this ingenious tower style provides one major advantage: it enables a cable car to follow the under-utilized airspace along an existing right of way — without the need to remove/impact road space. In an urban transport project, this advantage cannot be underestimated as many rapid transit proposals face immense backlash due to the need to take away lanes from motorists.

However, if vehicular lanes and capacity are maintained with the strategic use of cantilevered towers, the concerns of motorists can be mitigated.  Furthermore, in cities where the cost of land is high and the desire to maintain vehicular capacity is strong, this design solution could significantly increase a project’s financial and social feasibility.

While the tower design is fascinating, it should be noted that these towers are designed for a relatively old ropeway system. According to data online, the 1.5km gondola was built in 1974 and only carries 6,000 persons per month. As such, transferability from a cost and technical perspective to modern ropeway specifications is still relatively unknown at this time since no urban gondola (that we know of) is currently built with cantilevered towers.

What we do know now is that thanks to the Poços de Caldas Teleférico, there is precedence for this unique cantilevered tower solution in an urban environment.

All that’s required now is the right set of circumstances for implementation. Luckily, from the hundreds of active cable car proposals, it probably isn’t too difficult to find a city who wants to build additional transport capacity along an existing thoroughfare without removing car lanes.



There are no problems, only solutions

Many cities today find themselves embroiled in polarizing transport modality debates.

Other (intelligent) cities meanwhile don’t see a conflict between transit, local roads, pedestrians and highways — they simply think in 3 dimensions.

Case in point: the Kitakyushu Monorail.

Kitakyushu Monorail. Image by FlowiRawr.

Kitakyushu Monorail uses air space underneath the Kitakyushu Expressway Route 1. Image by FlowiRawr.

Thanks to reader Ben H. for sending us this awesome photo to once again demonstrate how great design can solve any challenge.




Video: Brest Cable Car Showcases World’s First Cable “Overpass” Design

After 2 months of testing, new footage of the Brest Cable Car (French: Téléphérique de Brest) has surfaced online.

The cable lift operates in an aerial tram configuration — however, unlike your typical aerial tram, the manufacturers (Bartholet) have built an incredibly unique system known as the “saut de mouton à câble” or SDMC Concept.

With this design, the two cabins operate on different track alignments, which enables the cabins to travel above and below each other as they move through the central 80m tower. This concept results in considerable space savings (i.e. smaller station footprint) as both cabins utilize the same platform.

SDMC Concept. Image from Bartholet.

SDMC Concept. Image from Bartholet.

SDMC concept in action. Image from Ouest France.

SDMC concept in action. Image from Ouest France.

In a city setting, this reduction in station widths will be particularly advantageous since urban real estate is often priced at a premium.

The cable car is scheduled to open in October 2016.

Brest Téléphérique / Gondola / Design Considerations / Engineering
Comments Off on Video: Brest Cable Car Showcases World’s First Cable “Overpass” Design
Comments Off on Video: Brest Cable Car Showcases World’s First Cable “Overpass” Design


“Rope Is Just Rope, Isn’t It?” (Fatzer’s Surprisingly Different Stabilo® Rope)

Stabilo rope's reliability and load capacity make it ideal for gondola, 2S and 3S cableways.

Stabilo rope’s reliability and load capacity make it ideal for MDG, BDG and 3S cableways.

Wondering whether choice of rope really matters? Look at it this way: If you were responsible for building a tram in your city, wouldn’t you want to know all you could about the track?

Awhile back, the Gondola Project posted an article about the often-overlooked issue of the weight-bearing cable or “rope” is it’s known in this, the “ropeway” industry. The gist of the story was that choosing the wrong rope, or leaving it to the last minute, can be inconvenient at best and extremely expensive or even unsafe at worst.

Today, we begin to examine Fatzer’s individual rope products, used for ropeways worldwide — this first one is Stabilo®. Fatzer ensures us that the differences between the products are subtle but important. Having produced literally thousands of miles of rope for transporting people in cable cars and chairlifts, they know what they’re talking about.

Most rope changes significantly with use, but not Stabilo. It remains, well, stable.

All ropes are made up of many wound strands of wire. Often, those strands are wound round a core of different materials. After the rope is put into use, the rope continually bends at the ropeway’s wheels. Friction from contact with the between strands of wire creates minute notches on them. The notches begin rubbing against each other, eventually breaking the wire.

Polyethylene core stabilizes movement and reduces elongation. (Photo from

Polyethylene core stabilizes movement and reduces elongation. (Photo from

Furthermore, with repeated cycles the strands quickly begin settling. Eventually they work their way into the core, changing it, narrowing its diameter and elongating the rope. The entire set of issues lessens the life expectancy of the rope.

Fatzer’s solution? Stabilize the core and prevent contact between the wire strands.

A Stabilo rope’s interior is filled with a polyethylene core rod, which is heated during the formation process. What results are compressed and minuscule layers of plastic between the strands, which are now kept separate at a uniform distance. So there’s a stable diameter at the core of the rope, for a weight-bearing cable that is less prone to stretching and, therefor, longer lasting.

The ideal applications for Stabilo ropes are continuously circling cableways, which demand longer and uninterrupted performance. All ropes stretch, though. Eventually even Stabilo requires maintenance for shortening (and ultimately replacement). Stabilo is the right choice for a ropeway that can only be halted at specified, predictable periods. Learn more here.

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.

Design Considerations / Fatzer / Lessons / Technology
Comments Off on “Rope Is Just Rope, Isn’t It?” (Fatzer’s Surprisingly Different Stabilo® Rope)
Comments Off on “Rope Is Just Rope, Isn’t It?” (Fatzer’s Surprisingly Different Stabilo® Rope)


The 10 Most Beautiful Examples of Elevated Transport Infrastructure – Part 2

As I said yesterday, elevated transport infrastructure don’t get no love.

In this, the second of two posts, we wrap up our list of the 10 most beautiful examples of elevated public transport infrastructure from around the world.



5. Station Square, Forest Hills Gardens – Queens, New York


Forest Hills Station. Image by flickr user Peter Dutton.

As one of the first stops along New York City’s Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) commuter rail system, Forest Hills station is something to behold. Or not . . .

After all, the station itself is somewhat invisible, playing second-fiddle to the rest of the square. It doesn’t announce itself the way the rest of the plaza does, but instead acts as a curious Northern gateway into the square for daily commuters. Built in 1906 for the wealthy residents of Forest Hills Gardens of Queens, New York Station Square, understands the importance of vistas and viewsheds. It harkens back to old Europe, a place where enclosed public plazas are as common as parking lots are in Texas.

Read more



The 10 Most Beautiful Examples Of Elevated Transport Infrastructure – Part 1

Image by flickr user Steward Leiwakabessy.

Elevated transport infrastructure don’t get no love.

Architects and urban designers decry their ugliness and their ability to rip apart neighbourhoods and very few people are willing to step up and argue against that point.

But to prove that elevated infrastructure isn’t always the city killer critics claim, we asked readers of The Gondola Project to help us come up with a list of the 10 most beautiful examples of elevated transport infrastructure around the world.

To make this list we didn’t consider any standard transit metrics like speed, reliability and capacity. We also didn’t consider the view the various systems afforded their riders. All we considered were the aesthetics of the systems as they interact with the urban fabric that surrounds them.

Note: This list is highly unscientific and prone to gross subjectivity. Feel free to argue about them all you want. This list isn’t about science, it’s about inspiration. Hopefully, this list can help people imagine a world where elevated infrastructure doesn’t destroy the urban form, but actively contributes to it instead.

This is Part 1 of 2.

Read more



Quick Dwell Times Demonstrated Again – Steinbergbahn

The topic of dwell times has always been a gripping issue on the Gondola Project (see here and here). Arguably, this talking point is now increasingly important as more urban cable cars are built. And let’s be honest, in today’s fast-paced city centers, no one wants to spend a few minutes sitting in a station.

We previously witnessed 40 second dwell times on the gondola lift in Hasliberg, Switzerland but never had video evidence.

Luckily, thanks to reader Tommy W, he sent us a clip of the new Steinbergbahn in Saalbach, Austria which provides evidence that mid-station dwell times can indeed be 40 seconds. Take a look (starts at 1:43).


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...