Installations

14
Jun

2018

Moscow’s Sparrow Hills / Luzhniki Stadium Cable Car to Open Soon

Sparrow Hills Cable Car travelling across Moskva River. Luzhniki Stadium, known as Russia’s national stadium, can be seen on the right. Screenshot from YouTube.

With the start of the 2018 World Cup today, it seems appropriate to take a sneak peek at an upcoming urban cable car which will soon connect passengers between one of the game’s central venues to one of Moscow’s most popular destinations.

The gondola system, known as the Sparrow Hills Cable Car (Russian: Канатная дорога на Воробьёвых горах) was originally scheduled to open before the start of the games but will not enter commercial service until the World Cup is over. This is unfortunate as Luzhniki Stadium will be hosting seven soccer matches, including the finals.

Nevertheless, once the system becomes operational, it will ease transport for visitors travelling between Luzhniki Stadium and Sparrow Hill. With the cable car, travel times between these two destinations will be reduced to five minutes — down from 15 minutes via car.

System undergoing the test phase in late May. Image by tjsuresh.

The 3-station gondola system is 737m in length and has been designed with a capacity of 1,600 pphpd (thirty five 8-passenger cabins). Luzhniki Stadium station is built as a two-storey terminal with ticketing facilities on the first floor and passenger boarding on the second floor. From this station, travellers head southwest to the Kosygina mid-station where they can one day rent sports equipment and visit a museum.

Finally, after another 300m ride, passengers will arrive at Sparrow Hills (Vorobyovy Gory). For those unfamiliar with Moscow, Sparrow Hill is one of the seven hills in the Russian capital and considered one of the city’s most scenic areas. Since the hill is 220m tall at its highest point, visitors will arrive at an observation platform with great views of the city. While the cable car is a seemingly new idea, the area was actually once connected by a chairlift which operated between 1953 to 2016.


The cable car will primarily serve a recreational function since it does not appear that the system will be fare-integrated with the city’s Troika transit card. However, reports suggest that the operator has the intention of one day integrating its payment system with Troika. Ticket prices are estimated at US$6-8 (400-500 rubles).

To enhance its appeal to visitors, the cable car will be designed with bike racks, have audio guides in multiple languages, and have two VIP cabins. Cabins will also be outfitted with LED lights to enhance aesthetics and passenger experience during night time operations.



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28
May

2018

Urban Ropeway Maintenance: Portland Aerial Tram


Not so dissimilar to any transit system or piece of machinery, urban ropeways require regular upkeep to ensure that operations remain trouble-free.

A cable transport line’s maintenance regime will depend on a number of factors which include items related to technology choice, equipment, regulations/codes, number of operating hours and much more. To put it into perspective, readers can think of a ropeway like a car — there are standard service intervals.

Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly maintenance procedures related to the inspection of grips, cabins, towers and stations are all typically timed and conducted during low passenger traffic periods to reduce impact on travellers.

This year, starting on June 23, the Portland Aerial Tram, will undergo track rope maintenance where the system will be closed for five weeks. The YouTube video provides a great overview of the servicing and maintenance program that’s been planned for the aerial tram.

The scheduled maintenance session will help ensure that the system can continue to transport 10,000 passengers per day and operate with a reliability level of 99.98%!



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06
Apr

2018

Green Gondolas: Energy Neutral, Solar Powered Aerial Ropeway

The new Staubern ropeway in Switzerland is built to be “energy neutral”. This means that the system is designed to generate all the energy it requires for daily operations internally and does not require any external power sources. Image from Berggasthaus Staubern.

As gondolas experience tremendous growth in the urban and recreational transport market, many decision-makers are now beginning to realize that ropeways are amongst the world’s most sustainable forms of transport.

For instance, not only are gondolas able to create direct environmental benefits by producing less carbon emissions per passenger kilometre than trams and buses (under the right conditions of course), their electrical power consumption systems can reduce the amount of point source pollutants that are released locally. In the case of the Mexicable, operators estimated that 5,800 cars were removed from neighbourhood roads while 17,400 tons of carbon emissions were eliminated.

While sustainable practices are almost always built into all cable car projects, the Staubern Ropeway (German: Bergbahn Staubern) is expected to take ecological stewardship to a whole new level.

The new modernized aerial tram, which takes users from the Rhein Valley to the Staubern Inn (located 1,800m above sea level), is supposed to be the first aerial ropeway in the world that can operate “independent of energy“. According to online articles, there are a few ways that the gondola can achieve this objective.

Daniel Lüchinger, the project proponent, was inspired to build a true “climate-neutral” gondola after a guest challenge him that his other gondola, the Frümsen-Staubern Ropeway, was not truly “energy netural” as it was powered by vegetable oil that was brought in by his car. Image from FM1Today.ch.

Technologically, the ropeway’s 51-kilowatt drive is powered by electric Tesla batteries which store solar energy. The top and bottom stations are outfitted with solar panels to capture as much power from the sun as possible.

Operationally, in terms of its passenger flows, the gondola is unlike many traditional sightseeing lifts where there is, by and large, an equal flow of passengers riding from the bottom station to the top station (and vice versa).

Rather, since many of the ropeway’s customers are hikers who trek up to the summit, these passengers simply ride the system from the top to the bottom. As such, due to the heavier descending cabin loads (compared to lighter ascending cabin loads), energy is actually generated during downhill operations, which in turn, is fed back to the electric batteries.


As surprising as this may sound, this isn’t the first time that a ropeway has been designed with solar energy in mind. Previously, the Swiss town of Tenna, built a tow lift that was powered entirely by sun power while the American resort town of Telluride implemented a major green retrofitting program for its public transit gondola.

The Staubern ropeway was entirely financed by local hotel operators who built the system without any subsidies. Their investment of US$5.2 million (5 million CHF) is designed to improve passenger service and comfort.

Compared to the old Frümsen – Staubern Ropeway (built 1979), the new gondola will be two times faster (7.0m/s vs 3.5m/s), more comfortable (two 8-person cabins versus one 6-person cabin), and will offer higher capacities (72 passengers per hour vs 18 passengers per hour).

To celebrate this momentous occasion, a slew of festivities are planned throughout this weekend as part of its inauguration. A total of 3,000 – 5,000 visitors from across the region are expected.

While this “energy neutral” cable lift model is only possible in unique circumstances, the laudable achievements of the Staubern Ropeway will hopefully inspire more action towards sustainable development practices.



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28
Mar

2018

La Paz Celebrates Opening of Sixth Urban Gondola, the White Line

The 2.9km White Line plays an instrumental role in linking up La Paz-El Alto’s existing urban gondola systems. Image from Cesar Dockweiler.

La Paz-El Alto’s sixth Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) system, the White Line (Spanish: Línea Blanca), was officially inaugurated last Saturday. With its opening, the world’s largest and busiest network of urban ropeways is now more than 60% complete.

Thousands of residents, alongside the Bolivian President (Evo Morales), Mi Teleferico’s Executive Manager (Cesar Dockweiler) and the country’s Vice President (Alvaro Garcia Linera) were all in attendance as the festivities kicked-off with musical performances and celebrations. Those who attended were given the opportunity to experience the system for free.

However, regular adult fares were set at 3 Bolivianos (US$0.50) for the first route and then 2 Bolivianos (US$0.28) for each transfer thereafter. Fares for children, seniors, and persons with disabilities are set at half the price of an adult ticket.


Read more



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25
Mar

2018

Photo of the Week: Soaring To Hon Thom Island

Hòn Thơm – Phú Quốc Cable Car. Image from Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park.

Hòn Thơm – Phú Quốc Cable Car. Image from Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park.

Hòn Thơm – Phú Quốc Cable Car. Image from Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park.



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Hòn Thơm - Phú Quốc Cable Car / Photo of the Week
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16
Mar

2018

Opening Soon: Transbay Transit Center Aerial Tram

Ropes for the Transbay Transit Center aerial lift was in the process of being strung and installed this week. Once complete, the ropeway will connect a public park (at the top) and a public plaza (at the bottom). Photo by CUP.

The San Francisco Transbay development is one of the largest civic and transport projects in the history of the Bay City. Spread over several city blocks and costing $2.3 billion, the redevelopment scheme is anchored by the iconic 61-storey (326m) Salesforce Tower and the 457m long Transbay Transit Center (also known as the Salesforce Transit Center).

The $1.1 billion skyscraper was inaugurated in January 2018 while the transport hub is scheduled to open in June. Dubbed by some as the “Grand Central Station of the West”, the new 5-storey transit node will offer passengers with an improved rider experience and enhanced transport connections throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

Park level map with the aerial tram circled in red. Screenshot from San Francisco Chronicle.

Cross section of Transbay Transit Center. Image from TJPA.

As part of the station’s initial phase, a mini aerial tram system (45m in length with 21m of vertical) is currently being constructed to connect a ground level public plaza to a 5.4 acre public park atop the Transbay Transit Center.

The single cabin ropeway is designed to not only facilitate access to the two public spaces, but to also act as an “architectural link” which attracts the attention of users passing-by at the pedestrian level. The system is currently in the final stages of construction before it is inaugurated this summer.

20-person cabin being hoisted and positioned for installation this week. Photo by Jim Fletcher.

Cabin lowered and position into place at the bottom station. Photo by Jim Fletcher.

In the future, when passengers hop onboard the aerial system, they will have access to restaurants, cafes, playgrounds and an outdoor amphitheatre at the rooftop park. The Transbay Transit Center Aerial Tram won’t be the only link to the greenspace as there are several vertical connections (i.e. escalators and elevators) placed throughout the 300m long linear park.

Unlike the City’s heritage cable cars and the BART to OAK line, the Bay Area’s newest rope-driven line won’t function as an integral part of the region’s transport network. Nevertheless, the new aerial tram will offer the terminal’s estimated 45 million annual passengers with a unique and complementary transport experience.



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09
Mar

2018

Medellin Breaks Ground on 6th Urban Gondola

Acevedo Transfer Station. Image from Mayor of Medellin.

Since Medellin sparked the modern renaissance of Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) systems fourteen years ago with the opening of Line K, the City’s urban cable car network has been growing at a steady and measured pace.

In the northwestern district of the City this week, Medellin broke ground on the USD$99 million (COP 298 million) Line P. With the Mayor present, crews began levelling soils at construction sites and started locating temporary power grids.

Unlike the previous generation of urban gondolas, Line P will feature some upgrades from the previous aerial lifts. The maximum speeds on the 2.8km system has been upped by 1 m/s (3.6km/h) to 5.5 m/s (19.8km/h) and the system capacity has increased by 1,000 pphpd to 4,000 pphpd (spread over 138 cabins).

With a travel time of 11 minutes, the system is expected to decrease commute times by 75% and benefit 420,000 residents who live in some of the most disconnected, disadvantaged and violent neighbourhoods — Commune 5 (Castilla) and Commune 6 (Doce de Octubre). The system will have four stations spread out in the community to maximize coverage and benefits to residents.

Once Line P is completed in July 2019, Medellin’s Metrocable systems will total 14.7km in length, thereby cementing its position as the second largest urban gondola network in the world after Mi Teleférico in Laz/El Alto, Bolivia.

But before Line P is finished, the City’s fifth urban gondola, Line M, is expected to enter commercial services in August 2018. With the continued expansion of the City’s transit network, Medellin is actively fulfilling the goals that it set for itself as part of its 2006-2030 transit master plan.

 

Pedregal Station. Image from Mayor of Medellin.

Doce de Octubre Station. Image from Mayor of Medellin.

El Progreso Station. Image from Mayor of Medellin.




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Medellin MetroCable / Metrocable Line P
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