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).




The Hybrid Monorail-Funicular-Cable Car?

Every so often we are confronted with wonderful and mysterious transportation devices (see Chinese Tunnel Bus). Today, we happen to come across the Sistema Monorail Con Funiculares (or the Monorail System With Funiculars) — a conceptual transit system designed by ECOLVIAS from Medellin, Colombia.

There’s not much information about this technology but it does make me wonder what type of advantages/disadvantages one might discover if you fuse monorail technology with cable cars. Perhaps it offers greater stability, capacity and/or speeds? Or maybe it’s as simple as being able to travel in style onboard teardrop-shaped cabins. Without any additional details it’s really anybody’s guess at this time.

But perhaps our engineer readers have a better idea and could provide us with your thoughts!

Big thanks goes out to Guenther for the link.



Farm Ropeways in Japan

After we blogged about portable agricultural cableways last week, we received a number of emails from our readers in response. One of the most interesting messages came from Quentin and he has shared with us a video he found of an aerial farm ropeway operating in Japan. Check it out.

Unfortunately, beyond this video there doesn’t seem to be much information about the history and use of these systems in Japan. However, a similar ropeway seen on Mochi-Kou Machinery website indicates that it’s used to transport oranges and tea from the mountains.

If you happen to know more about these systems, we’d love to hear from you. Please send us an email at

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Linth-Limmern Schwerlast-Seilbahn

We recently received an awesome Youtube link of the infamous truck transporting ropeway that’s being used to help construct a $2.35bn hydroelectric power plant in Switzerland. It’s been reported that the cable car systems are capable of transporting a payload of more than 200t!

Equally or even more impressive is the fact that the power plant is expected to be complete by 2015 and will generate as much energy as a nuclear power plant!

Thanks to reader Quentin for the video!


Engineering / Innovations
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24 Hour Gondola: Mount Parnitha (Mont Parnes) Cable Car

Public transit systems tend to take a beating.

They handle thousands, if not millions of passengers each day. And not only that, in some high demand areas, service must be reliable and constantly available. Definitely not an easy feat for operators.

For Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) it’s no different. Heavily ridden systems such as the Medellin Metrocable Line K and Roosevelt Island Tram transport thousands of riders on a daily basis for up to 19-21 hours a day.

But how about a gondola system that operates 24/7? Well the Mount Parnitha Cable Car near Athens, Greece shows that it’s possible.

Τελεφερίκ Πάρνηθας

Mount Parithna Cable Car. Image by Flickr user Christos.

Since it’s the main transport connection to the Regency Casino on top of Mount Parnitha (Mont Parnes), it was of utmost importance that the cable car be available around the clock. Otherwise, even minor disruptions would mean that businesses would be negatively impacted. And for a casino, this would be financially disastrous.

To say the least, this feat is incredible and unheard of. Aside from a handful of cities, very few rapid transport lines are able to operate 24 hours a day, let alone a cable car.

If there’s anything to take from this case example, it’s that this system demonstrates once again how cable technology is constantly adapting and improving itself to meet the ever-changing needs and demands of its customers.

Special thanks goes out to Andrew and Mr. Woo for informing me about this system. 



Zingel Seilbahn: The water ballast tram

Preparing for take off!

The Obermatt – Unter Zingel Seilbahn in Switzerland is a cool old aerial tram that is powered, well, by gravity. Built in 1923 by Remigi Niederberger, the system still functions today. It is one of the last remaining water ballast tram systems.

The ropeway consists of two open-air “cabins” that have a spot to sit and a tank for water, cleverly built into the back of the seat. To hoist a person up from the bottom station, the tank at the top is filled with water and the weight of this water ballast is enough to counter balance the lower cabin (up to 100 kg) and run it up the mountain.

The system is simple, cheap, and surprisingly fast. (In fact the seilbahn can reach 45 km/h, which is the speed of any present day aerial tram.) There is no motor or no modern communication system. The operator at the top slows the cabin with a manually operated drum brake.

This video below beautifully illustrates how the Zingel Seilbahn works. [link]

Aerial Trams / Engineering
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How to make a cable

We’ve talked a bit about cable splicing in the past, but never focused much on the process of actually making a cable. Today we resolve that.

Here is a short video (albeit in French) that demonstrates how small steel cables are wound together to create medium-sized cables, which are then spun again with other medium-sized cables to create the final super cable — the same one used in cable propelled transit systems.

I think the shear magnitude of the machines involved in this process is impressive. So is the final 5m diameter spool, which weighed in at around 150 tons!

Also, I find it reassuring that there are tests conducted all through out the process that test for strength and consistency, and that these are done both manually and with lasers.

It would be interesting to know about how long it takes to make one spool of cable.

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