Pod Cabins Now Seen in Moscow!

Post by Gondola Project

Space pod cabins. Screenshot from MReporter.

About three weeks ago, a few “portal towers” were spotted in Moscow’s VDNKh amusement park. Today, it appears that a number of futuristic “space pod” cabins have now been mounted on the park’s ropeway as it prepares for testing and commissioning this Fall.

We’re not sure where the designers got their inspiration from, but the spherical cabins reminded us of the rotund BB-8 droid from Star Wars or perhaps even the helmet of a cosmonaut.

Cabins mounted to station. The system is being constructed by Doppelmayr. Screenshot from MReporter.

Pod cabins will help transport the estimated 2 million visitors to VDNKh park. Screenshot from MReporter.

From our experiences, an increasing number of cities and their decision-makers are becoming more demanding when it comes to unique ropeway designs. While standardized, off-the-shelf cable car components reduce implementation costs and time, some projects in aesthetically sensitive areas will inevitably require customized designs.

For instance to highlight the importance of form, Portland’s City Commissioner was once quoted as saying that the Portland Aerial Tram did not consider standard parts since it would result in “a cheap ski lift at a bad ski resort” — which in turn, would leave the City with “an ugly postcard” lasting a hundred years.

UFO style “space” cabin were already in existence Post-WII as it was built by Carlevaro-Savio out of  Turin, Italy . Image Chairlift.org.

With the increasing number of attractive and non-utilitarian cabin and tower designs , this will likely help inspire other project proponents to develop and add their own creative touches to their ropeways.

For the time being however, the Russian capital’s VDNKh park may very well have built one of the world’s most eye-catching aerial gondolas in recent memory.


A big thank you (again) to Irakli Z for forwarding us the link!


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Timang Beach Gondola — World’s Most Exciting and Expensive 30-Second Ropeway Ride?

Post by Gondola Project

Timang Beach Gondola. Image by Pandora Voon.

As early as 250BC, ropeways have been used to transport people and goods across difficult terrain. Even today, as many parts of the world are rapidly modernizing, some places are still reliant on simple cable systems.

In the Yogyakarta region of Indonesia, locals have strung together a rather precarious-looking cable car over the treacherous waters of the Indian Ocean. According to some online user comments, the Timang Beach Gondola was built in 1997 and was primarily used in the past to ferry lobster fisherman from the coast to a lobster nest on Pulau Timang, a small rocky outcrop 100m from the mainland.

However, with the advent of mass tourism, locals discovered that international visitors are willing to dish out a whole lot of dough to experience this one-of-a-kind gondola. If you watch the video above, it quickly becomes apparent why the chance to share your “dangerous” ropeway experience on social media (especially Instagram) makes it nearly impossible for millennial travellers to resist.

While the wooden, blue-roped gondola is a rudimentary piece of equipment, the operators appear to be experts when it comes to fare pricing. Believe it or not, the 30 second ride costs US$10.30 for locals and US$13.70 for international tourists!

With this ticket price, the Timang Beach Gondola is certainly not an inexpensive attraction — even by global standards. Given the short duration of the ride, it might even be the most expensive gondola on a per second ratio.

The Timang Beach Gondola costs about $0.23/second, making it more expensive than some of the world’s most advanced ropeways. Chart by CUP.

The open-air double decker cable car (CabriO) in Switzerland costs 3 cents less per second to ride than the Timang Beach Gondola. However, the overall ticket price is more expensive (US$74.50). Image by Alpohi.

It’s hard to imagine that a relatively remote part of Indonesia would be home to one of the world’s most expensive ropeways. But then again, given the physical manpower that’s actually involved to pull riders over, maybe the ride is a bargain after all.

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32km of Urban Gondolas Proposed in Southern Russia

Post by Gondola Project

Rendering of Krasnodar Cable Car. Screenshot from 24krasnador YouTube channel.

Chances are you’ve never heard of Krasnodar — a city of 900,000 people that’s located some 1,300km from Moscow and 300km from Sochi.

In recent times, this so-called unofficial capital of the Russian south has been experiencing significant population growth. Between 2007-2017, the city added about 200,000 residents. Today, it is the 16th most populous city in Russia and the 3rd most populous in the country’s Southern Federal District after Rostov-on-Don and Volgograd.

To alleviate traffic congestion and improve transport options, the city’s economic committee released a proposal to build a massive 36km network of urban gondolas in November 2017. Since then, the proposal has been revised to 32km, spread over 12 stations and five lines. If Krasnodar is successful in this endeavour, their urban ropeway network would be the world’s second largest, right behind La Paz who has a final build out length of 32.7km.

32km network of urban gondolas have been designed. Screenshot from 24krasnador YouTube channel.

Given language barriers, it’s difficult to say where the cable cars are travelling to, but it appears that the five lines are planned to connect major activity nodes such as the Gallery-Krasnodar (shopping and entertainment center), the German Village, the Krasnodar stadium and several residential districts.

The proponents believe that they can complete the entire network in just 3.5 – 4 years at a cost of US$150 million (10-12 billion rubles). The current model is set at US$0.50 per ticket, attracting an estimated 35 million passengers per year (approximately 100,000 per day).

While this figure seems high, the ridership numbers wouldn’t be that far-fetched as Mi Teleférico has transported over 135 million since the first cable car line opened in May 2014. This roughly equals to more than 31 million passengers per year.

Gondola system passing through and connecting the new Krasnodar football stadium which was built just two years ago. Screenshot from 24krasnador YouTube channel.

Screenshot from 24krasnador YouTube channel.

In comparison to local data, the city estimates that its current transport network carries over 210 million persons per annum. With the cable car, proponents believe it can reduce traffic loads by 12%, and eliminate 178,000 cars and 105 buses from the road.

Similar to many recent gondola proposals seen in Hollywood, Branson, and Albany, the project lead believes the system can be privately financed and built via a PPP structure. In a news article this week, Krasnodar’s Mayor, Evgeny Pervyshov, appears to be supportive of the project if investors are willing to step up to the plate.

Within Russia, urban gondola technology seems to be finding it stride. So far, Nizhny Novgorod has operated its transit cable lift since 2012 while Moscow should be opening two recreational systems in the short- to mid-term (Sparrow Hills/Luzhniki Stadium gondola and VDNKh Ropeway).

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Portal Towers Seen in Moscow

Post by Gondola Project

A “portal tower” being built for the VDNKh amusement park ropeway in Moscow, Russia. Image by Another City.

With the growth of urban gondolas in the cities, architects have naturally begun to experiment with more unique ropeway designs.

One particular element of a cable car which has received significant attention is the design of towers. For instance, decision-makers in cities such as Portland and London have built one-of-a-kind towers to add a touch of distinctiveness to their ropeway and surroundings.

Architects in recent proposals have continued this trend where even bolder designs are now becoming more common.

Above illustrations depict the final four conceptual styles that were chosen above as part of the design competition for the Gothenburg Cable Car. The design, second from the left, was ultimately chosen as the winner. Image from forlivochrorelse.se.

If you look closely above, the first rendering from the left, depicts a rare portal or lollipop tower concept. While this design did not win Gothenburg’s architectural competition, we personally thought that the portal tower could become a strong concept for future proposals.

As you can imagine, we were pleasantly surprised when we found out that a recreational ropeway in Moscow was already under construction with portal towers!

View of portal tower. Image by Another City.

There are currently three giant portal towers erected on site. Image by Another City.

Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot of information about the gondola itself.

However, what we do know is that the system is about 900m long and is being built at VDNKh, an amusement park/exhibition complex located ~10km north of Moscow’s city centre. VDNKh is also known as the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy and is one of the 50 largest exhibitions in the world.

The cable car will be constructed as part of a new 17.3ha theme park. A number of new attractions will be built which includes indoor pavilions, a 140m ferris wheel, and a roller coaster. An estimated 2 million people are expected to visit the park once it opens sometime in Fall 2018.

It’s uncertain when the ropeway will become operational, but hopefully once its complete, it can serve as another notable case study and a demonstration of the tower designs that are possible with urban gondolas.


A big thank you goes out to Irakli Z for sharing the photos/links with us!

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La Paz Opens 7th Urban Gondola, 8th Line To Open in September

Post by Gondola Project

Sky Blue Line began commercial service on July 14th. Image from Mi Teleferico.

Construction works for the world’s largest urban gondola network in La Paz, Bolivia continues to take place at record speeds. Large celebrations took over its street when the president, Evo Morales, was on hand to inaugurate Mi Teleferico’s 7th urban gondola, the Sky Blue Line (Spanish: Línea Celeste), on July 14th.

The 2.6km Sky Blue Line has been designed with 4-stations which helps connect the City’s south zone (Spanish: zona Sur) to the downtown area (Spanish: centro paceño). Along the route, the cable car travels by a number of obstacles/features including a sports field, a ravine, under three iconic bridges (e.g. Trillizos bridge, América bridge and the Gemelo bridge), an open air theatre and even under the existing White Line gondola.

With a maximum speed of 6m/s, end to end travel times will be just 11.8 minutes while maximum capacities will be 4,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd). As a comparison, this is equivalent to more than 70 buses every hour!

You might note that the Sky Blue Line is the first of two urban gondola lines in La Paz to open with higher performance capabilities. It’s maximum speeds and line capacity are 20% and 33% higher than the speeds and capacities seen on the six previous lines. In fact, at 4,000 pphpd, the Sky Blue Line will be the first pure public transit MDG system to be designed with such a large capacity. The vast majority of MDGs built in the past typically peaked at around 3,000 pphpd.

Ultimately, greater performance standards will be useful as the Sky Blue Line is connected to three other urban gondola lines (e.g. White Line, Green Line, and Yellow Line).

Evo Morales (Bolivian president) and Cesar Dockweiler (GM of Mi Teleferico) were amongst the first riders of the Sky Blue Line. Image from Los Tiempos.

Sky Blue Line. Image from Mi Teleférico.

As part of the opening remarks, Morales emphatically called the newest cable car, “a dream of the people of La Paz”. Arguably, this statement isn’t really that far from the truth as the Sky Blue system was built in just 366 days!

The entire Mi Teleferico network as a whole is equally as impressive as it has now logged in more than 135 million passengers since the first gondola line opened in 2014. To put that into perspective, this ridership figure is more than 13 times the entire population of Bolivia!

Master plan for all 11 urban gondola lines. Image from Mi Teleferico.

Shortly after the 7th urban gondola opened, officials announced that the Purple Line (Spanish: Línea Morada) will begin commercial service in the first half of September. Similar to the Sky Blue Line, the Purple Line will also operate with higher system speeds and capacities than that were seen on the previous six lines. Effectively, this means that passengers will be able to travel from 6 de Marzo station to Obelisco station in just 16.8 minutes.

As construction is nearing completion, the system is now undergoing test operations.

Purple Line cabins are still being covered by protective wrapping. Image from Pagina Siete.

It’s a little hard to believe at first, but the entire Mi Teleférico master plan is coming together beautifully. By September, more than 70% of the system will be opened with only three lines left to complete (i.e. Brown Line, Silver Line and Gold Line). Urban gondola followers won’t have to wait long as the whole network should be fully built by 2020!




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Media Sensationalism and Gondolas – The Case of Melbourne’s Skyloop Cable Car

Post by Gondola Project

AMMI Station is the Melbourne Skyloop cable car’s eastern terminus. With a 3,000 space parking garage, it is designed for commuters to park-and-ride. Image by Caulfield Krivanek Architecture.

In recent gondola news, reports coming from Down Under suggested that a local architect had proposed a US$525 million (AUD$700 million) cable car project for Melbourne’s downtown.

This astronomical number naturally grabbed our attention since half billion dollar transport projects are often associated with major underground subway lines and bridges rather than lightweight ropeway systems. After all, the world’s longest 3S cable car and one of the most expensive ever built — the 7.9km Hon Thom gondola system — was implemented for an estimated US$225 million.

From what we can gather online at the time, the Melbourne system would be designed with standard MDG technology — at a modest length of 2.5km, 4 stations and 1 custom tower. In other words, this would be a fairly standard urban cable car project which should never cost anywhere close to half a billion dollars. Our gut instinct was that someone out there, whether intentionally or not, must have misreported the project.

So to try to get to the bottom of this we decided to contact Robert Caulfield, the proponent behind the proposal.

The Melbourne Skyloop proposal would connect four major nodes throughout the sports precinct and CBD. Image by Caulfield Krivanek Architecture.

Read more

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Hanoi’s Red River Gondola Proposal

Post by Gondola Project

Mr. Ngo Manh Tuan, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Transportation wants to carefully assess and evaluate the gondola concept that was submitted this week. Image by elevonic.

The Vietnamese capital of Hanoi has received a proposal to build an urban gondola across the Red River. Based on articles found online (Vietnam Biz, VTN and Moi Truong), the ropeway system is apparently 5km (3mi) in length and is designed to transport 3,500-4,500 persons per hour per direction onboard a fleet of 25/30-passenger cabins. While the technology was not mentioned, the proposed system may likely use 3S technology given the cabin capacities stated and the potential spans required.

The current concept is to have a ropeway travel over the Red River at heights of 50-100m (160-320ft) while connecting Long Bien Bus Station to Gia Lam Bus Station. Proponents hope that the cable car will relieve traffic congestion and reduce cross-river travel times.

The gondola could be a welcome addition to Hanoi as its rapid transit network is highly underdeveloped for a city with 7.5 million residents. At this time, the capital has zero subway lines (the first urban rail line won’t begin trial operations until August) and its public transit network is merely composed of 100 bus routes. Many, if not most, residents still rely upon the city’s five million motorbikes for daily transport.

The motorbikes can be an efficient (and thrilling) way to move about the city, but officials are hoping to ban their use by 2030 in order to reduce environmental and traffic congestion problems. As such, an urban ropeway with its electric propulsion systems and small footprint, could potentially reduce gridlock, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and provide commuters with an alternative mode of transport.

While cable transit solutions have yet to be implemented in Vietnamese cities, the country is already home to some of the world’s most technologically advanced ropeways. In total, the country holds multiple world records which include:

  1. Longest 3S cable car: Hon Thom-Phu Quoc Cable Car at 7.9km
  2. Second longest 3S cable car: Fansipan Legend at 6.3km
  3. Longest continuous MDG: Bana Hills Cable Car at 5.8km
  4. Largest ropeway cabin: Queen Cable Car at 230 persons
  5. Tallest ropeway tower: Queen Cable Car at 188.8m

Vietnam features some of the globe’s most impressive aerial ropeways. These include the Hon Thom 3S (top left), Fansipan Legend (top right), Bana Hills MDG (bottom left) and the Queen Cable Car (bottom left). Images by pduyma, Viwikipediaorg, vtt, and Newone.

Despite the success of these recreational ropeways, the reaction to the Hanoi proposal appears to be mixed at this time. The Hanoi Automobile Transport Association has apparently said that cable lifts are not suitable for public transit while local transport expert, Dr. Nguyen Xuan Thuy, expressed concerns over a ropeway’s ability to reduce traffic congestion. Of course, these comments are expected with any proposal and they appear to be nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction from those who are unfamiliar with the technology.

For professionals who have followed Cable Propelled Transit (CPT), they will know that over 35 public transit gondolas are now operational worldwide while cable cars have been well-documented in terms of its ability to reduce gridlock. For instance, the Mexicable is estimated to have removed 5,800 vehicles from local roadways, while the Mi Teleferico has eliminated the consumption of over 3,000,000 litres of gasoline per year.

Other local experts, such as Dr. Nguyen Huu Nguyen (Urban Planning Association of Vietnam) and Associate Professor Tu Sy Sy (Hanoi University of Transport) have taken a more open-minded position. They have noted the long and proven track record of the ropeway industry, the large capacities of the cabins (nearing the size of a small bus at 25-30 persons) and the ability of ropeways to easily traverse difficult topography. Officials have also acknowledged their wish to objectively assess the submission and determine if the concept is suitable for the city.

With this proposal, Hanoi appears to be the second Vietnamese city to have an urban gondola plan announced publicly. In a separate project last year, a developer in Ho Chi Minh City was unable to advance an aerial lift idea to connect two parks and the Tan Son Nhat international airport. As more Asian cities are now exploring the feasibility of Cable Propelled Transit, the implementation of an urban gondola in Vietnam could help further cement the country as a hub for ropeway innovation.

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