Algerian Gondolas

26
Aug

2011

The Algiers Téléphériques

One of four Téléphériques in Algiers, Algeria. Image via Poma.

From what we can piece together, Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) systems in Algeria began in the mid-1950’s with the construction of the Téléphérique d’El Madania in the capital Algiers. This system was then followed in 1982 by the Téléphérique Notre-Dame d’Afrique – again in Algiers.

Five years later in 1987, two more Téléphériques would be constructed in Algiers; the Télépherique du Memorial and the Téléphérique du Palais de la Culture.

All four of these systems would be Aerial Trams designed, manufactured and built by the Italian company Poma – the company that would eventually renovate and modernize the systems 20 years later.

Despite moving millions of people per year (according to the Poma website the el Madania system alone moves more than 1 million people per year), these are remarkably modest systems:

  • None have intermediary stations.
  • System vehicles have capacity for 35 people and the systems can offer total capacity of 1,200 pphpd.

Maybe more surprising is how short in length these systems are:

  • Téléphérique d’El Madania – 220m
  • Téléphérique du Mémorial – 230m
  • Téléphérique du Palais de la Culture – 368m
  • Téléphérique de Notre Dame d’Afrique – 250m

To put those numbers in perspective, the line distances are little more than the distance between two North American bus stops. In other words, the Téléphériques function more like elevators than transit; similar in the way the Ascencors of Valparaiso manage to collapse height and distance and ease movements between the higher and lower parts of the city.

Yet to call these systems mere “elevators” would do them an injustice.

The Téléphériques are important enough to the movement of people in Algiers that they are all fully integrated with ETUSA, Algiers’ regional transit planning agency. And as stated previously, these systems do move millions of people a year. That suggests these aren’t simple elevators but rather essential links in the growing Algiers transit scheme.



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25
Aug

2011

New Urban Gondola Under Construction in Algiers

 

Construction site of the Bouzareah Télécabine. Image via Imageshack.

Of all the Urban Gondolas / Téléphériques / Télécabines in Algeria, perhaps the most exciting right now is the Bouzareah Télécabine. The reason is fourfold:

ONE – This system is actually under construction and has been for at least the last year. That suggests it should be nearing completion any time now.

TWO – From what we understand, this will be the first Gondola system built in Algiers. The five previous systems that were built/rehabilitated in Algiers were all Aerial Trams. This is a step in the right direction as Gondola technology is arguably more suitable to complex urban environments than Aerial Tram technology (for a discussion on this matter, see here).

THREE – We can actually find research on it. That may sound like a poor reason to name something “the most exciting,” but given the lack of available research on the Algerian Gondolas, it’s exciting enough for us. Granted the research is in the form of poorly translated SkyscraperCity Forums (this one was particularly enlightening), but those forums led us to images like these:

Bouzareah Télécabine construction site. Image via Imageshack.

Close-up of Bouzareah Télécabine construction site signage. Image via Imageshack.

User-created map of the Bouzareah Télécabine route showing tower locations, route and station locations. Image via Imageshack.

Which leads us to the fourth reason to get excited:

FOUR – This is a fairly robust system. True, it only has three stations. But on the flip side, it’s almost 3 km in length and has an extreme turn at Station Frais Valon.

A last point: From the above images, we also learn that the system is being built by Garaventa of Switzerland. It’s therefore likely to be designed similarly to past Garaventa-built systems in Tlemcen, Constantine and Skikda.



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24
Aug

2011

3 Algerian Télécabine Videos

Check out the following three news reports on the Tlemcen, Skikda and Constantine Télécabines (in that particular order):

(Of note: In the first video – Tlemcen – we get a really great sense of how the three stations fit within the surrounding urban fabric. In the second video – Skikda – we get a really great segment about the splicing of the cables around the 3:00 minute mark.)




Telecabine de Tlemcen par C_S_A_




Télécabine de Skikda par C_S_A_




Telecabine de Constantine par C_S_A_



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23
Aug

2011

The Problem With ‘Téléphériques’

One of the challenges urban gondola transit and cable propelled transit must overcome is the issue of nomenclature. This is something we talk about a fair bit here at The Gondola Project (here, here and here, for example) and it appears to have contributed to some of our own confusion about the Algerian Gondolas.

Let me explain.

Algeria’s official language is Arabic. Owing, however, to the North African’s history of French colonization, a majority of Algerians also speak and understand French with much business, media and education conducted in that language. As such, when we’ve hunted for information on the Algerian Gondolas, we’ve tended to do so in French. Granted, pursing research in Arabic would likely yield better results than in French but sometimes you’ve just got to work with what you’ve got.

Now . . . Anecdotally speaking, the most common term for cable transit systems in French is Téléphérique. This initially presented some challenges.

Google something like Téléphérique + Constantine (go ahead, we’ll wait) and you’ll find no shortage of images, videos, pages, etc. showing something like this:

Image via SkyscraperCity.

Now to any regular reader of The Gondola Project, you’ll immediately recognize this as a simple Monocable Detachable Gondola system (more specifically, it’s a 15-seater). But look what happens when you google something like Téléphérique + Algiers:

 

The Alger Téléphérique El-Madania. Creative Commons image by Poudou99.

Clearly the El-Madania Téléphérique in Algiers is an Aerial Tram not an MDG system.

Which means the French word Téléphérique is more akin to the English phrase Aerial Ropeway instead of Gondola. In other words: As we’re researching the Algerian Gondolas, we have to recognize that most of them will be referenced using the umbrella term Téléphérique. Which leads to the problem:

Without any clear indicators (by way of a photo or something else), it is very difficult to determine what technologies have been or will be implemented across Algeria’s slew of 23 Téléphériques.

We also see the term Télécabine used in reference to the Constantine, Skikda and Tlemcen gondolas, but there doesn’t seem to be any exact agreement on what that term means (see the English translation of the French Wikipedia page to get an idea of the confusion). Télécabine seems to be used most commonly to describe a detachable gondola but there isn’t any clear consensus.

As such, we’ll just have to figure out each one individually, one at a time.



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22
Aug

2011

23 Algerian Gondolas!?!

Algiers Telepherique El-Madania. Creative Commons image by Poudou99.

As we declared last week, this week is going to be dedicated to unravelling some of the mystery surrounding Algeria’s rapidly expanding Urban Gondola plans. Algerian cities have many topographical challenges and it appears that the government has renewed it’s interest in ropeway technology as a means to combat those challenges.

The challenge for us, however, is to untangle the huge amount of information that exists about these systems and put them into some kind of clear order. Not easy considering the level of development in Algeria; the lack of easy-to-access information flowing out of the country; and the language barriers that exist.

Thus far, we understand that after the current spurt of planning, rehabilitation and construction of urban gondolas that is occurring throughout the country, Algeria will be left with a total of 23 ropeway systems.

These systems will be spread across 13 different cities in the following manner:

  • Algiers: 9 total systems (5 in use, 2 under construction, 2 planned)
  • Constantine: 3 total systems (1 in use, 2 planned)
  • Tlemcen: 1 total system (in use)
  • Oran: 1 total system (in use)
  • Annaba: 1 total system (in use)
  • Skikda: 1 total system (in use)
  • Chrea: 1 total system (in use)
  • Tizi Ouzou: 1 planned system
  • Bejaia: 1 planned system
  • Mediea: 1 planned system
  • Beni Saf: 1 planned system
  • Taref: 1 planned system
  • Jijel: 1 planned system

For a developing world country of only ~ 35M people, this is a fascinating phenomenon. Our original understanding was that the epicenter of urban gondolas was South America.

But if the above plans be true and realized, then it should be clear that Algeria is the place to look to for inspiration.

 



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19
Aug

2011

Two More Urban Gondolas Approved for Constantine, Algeria?

An urban gondola in Constantine, Algeria (we think). Image via Skyscraper City.

The Algerian Gondolas have been something of a black box to The Gondola Project. We know they exist. We’ve seen pictures of them and we keep hearing more are planned.

Beyond that, we know virtually nothing about them and still can’t seem to find a reliable way to gather intelligence and research on them.

Then this comes along:

According to a Google translation of a Skyscraper City forum, two more urban gondolas have been approved for Constantine, Algeria and a third is planned in the city of Tizi Ouzou. The Tizi Ouzou system is reported to be 7 km long with six individual stations (!).

Now before we get too excited, let’s remember a few things:

  • This is pure hearsay right now. While Skyscraper City is a useful resource for gathering intelligence and rumour, it’s not always the most independent or reliable of sources.
  • Compounding the previous, we’re relying on a Google translation of the forum post – also not the most reliable of resources.
  • Given our inability to gather information about the Algerian Gondolas, it’s hard to take this any more seriously than other rumours we’ve heard.

Having said that, this lack of research on the Algerian Gondolas is beginning to become a black eye on The Gondola Project. We need to track down more details on these systems as Algeria now has more urban gondolas than any other country on earth (from what we can gather – that claim needs to be double-checked as well).

As such, I’m declaring next week Algerian Gondola Week. Next week’s task for The Gondola Project is to gather as much intelligence on the Algerian Gondolas as we can possibly find. If you’d like to contribute, feel free to do so in a new Algerian Gondola specific forum.

Hopefully we can find some answers.



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