Doppelmayr’s Innovative Recovery Concept – Unmatched Passenger Safety and Comfort

Post by Nick Chu

As we’ve pointed out before, gondolas are the safest form of transport in the world. Whether it’s data from United States, France or the Swiss Alps, cable cars have demonstrated their ability to transport riders in the most extreme topographical and meteorological conditions with unmatched safety and comfort.

Despite its high safety record, Doppelmayr – the global leader in urban gondolas with worldwide facilities and sales teams – has continued to advance and improve the technology to greater levels of quality and excellence.

In recent times, the company has designed an innovative safety feature called the Recovery Concept.

Koblenz Cable Car is equipped with the Recovery Concept to maximize safety.

The Recovery Concept is a series of redundant drive-line systems that ensures the cabins will return to a station in the event of a mechanical or electrical failure of the primary drive-line.

While there have always been backup drive-lines for aerial ropeway installations, the world’s first detachable gondola supported by the Recovery Concept was installed in the Grasjochbahn 8-passenger gondola (Silvretta Montafon, Voralberg, Austria) in 2011.

Grasjoch 8-passenger gondola. Image by Doppelmayr.

Grasjoch 8-passenger gondola. Image by Doppelmayr.

“With Doppelmayr’s Recovery Concept, dramatic and expensive rescues are no longer necessary. Cabins with passengers remain comfortably intact and would simply be returned to the station with one of the Concept’s alternative drive mechanisms,” says Tom Sanford, VP Sales of Doppelmayr USA.

Doppelmayr Recovery Concept. Image by Doppelmayr.

Recovery Concept. Image by Doppelmayr.

Major features of this system include:

  • Main drive mechanism has an auxiliary motor in case of primary motor failure
  • Coupling can be detached from bullwheel to allow emergency drives to take over in case both primary and auxiliary motors fail
  • Each bullwheel is equipped with an emergency bearing allowing rotational movement between emergency drives on either side
  • Special tools installed which lifts the cable back to normal position in case of derailment
  • Special tools, such as permanent crane facilities, to remove blocked cabins

“We’ll never completely eliminate the need for rope rescues but, with Doppelmayr’s Recovery Concept, nearly all of them are now prevented,” says Sanford.


Application to Urban Gondolas

Already the Recovery Concept has been installed in several high-profile urban cable cars including the Koblenz Cable Car (Germany), and the Emirates Air Line Cable Car (UK).

Emirates Air Line Cable Car built with the Recovery Concept. Two independent emergency drives and recovery equipment on top of each tower means passengers can stay in cabins during emergencies.

“We think this concept is a must-have for cities installing ropeways as public transportation” says Sanford.

As the performance and passenger requirements of public transit is immensely demanding, the Recovery Concept can help strengthen Cable Propelled Transit’s position as the world’s safest urban transport modality.

You can learn more about Doppelmayr and urban applications of its ropeways here.


Materials on this page are paid for. The 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 The Gondola Project.



Photo of the Week: Teleferic de Montjuic

Post by Nick Chu



Bonn Explores Cable Car Across Rhine

Post by Nick Chu

Like many other Western municipalities (see urban gondola map), German cities may be on the cusp of a great urban gondola boom.

News reports indicate that cable cars are now being discussed in municipalities such as Bonn, Wuppertal, Siegen, Trier, Frankfurt and Mannheim. In fact, Berlin will see its gondola built by LEITNER Ropeways open in time for IGA 2017.

Bonn/Bad Godesberg

View over Bonn/Bad Godesberg from Venusberg, Bonn.

Specifically in Bonn (pop: 315,000, located on banks of Rhine, 30km south of Cologne Cable Car), there seems to be great public support and enthusiasm for the concept of an urban gondola.

There’s so much interest that the former capital of Germany began a feasibility study in February.

Since analyses are ongoing, full details have yet to be released. However, based on some information gathered online, it suggests that the City is studying a 3S/TDG system, with 35-person cabins and a line capacity of up to 5,000 ppphd.

Based on one netizen’s interpretation of the plan, the cable car will travel along 3-4 stations in Venusberg (a municipality in Bonn that’s located west of Rhine and on a 176m plateau).

Another proposed route appears to be a east-west connection which links up Venusberg (west of Rhine) to Ennert (east of Rhine) with stations at Museum Mile (Museumsmeile), UN-Campus and T-Mobile headquarters.

The study is expected to be complete by year’s end with project costs estimated at US$115-170 million (€100-150 million).

Whatever alignment is chosen and finalized, observers would be wise to keep track of the developments in Bonn and within other European cities. If any of these projects are successfully implemented, it may very open up the floodgates for many more cable cars.




La Paz’s Cable Cars Receive Most Innovative Transport Award

Post by Nick Chu

At this year’s Smart City Business America Congress and Expo in Curitiba, Brazil, the My Cable Car (Spanish: Mi Teleférico) system in La Paz was recognized as the Most Innovative Transport System in the region.

Bolivia's World's Longest Cable Car

The 10km cable car network, built by Doppelmayr, began operations in 2014. Today, after nearly two years since its inauguration, the network transports an estimated 100,000 passengers per day.

Seven more cable car systems, which are currently in the various stages of planning, design and construction, will add more than 20km of CPT to the city in the near future!



The Irony of Cable Car Pranks on April Fools

Post by Nick Chu

For those who haven’t noticed yet, it’s April Fools today.

Of course, this means that a few media outlets have gone to great lengths to have a little fun and punk their audiences.

Hey look, it's a proposal that might potentially improve transportation. Ha ha. Jokes on you. Image from Isle of Wight Radio.

Look! It’s a proposal that might potentially improve transportation. Ha ha. Image from Isle of Wight Radio.

For gondolas, we’ve found two great stories so far: 1) A “green-lit” water-crossing cable car for the Isle of Wight, UK; and 2) A city-wide gondola network in Victoria, Canada.

The massive cable car proposal in Victoria is obviously ridiculous in that environment. But could maybe one or two strategically placed lines in the BC capital help improve transport and tourism? Of course. I see several interesting opportunities already.

As for the Isle of Wight prank, I honestly know nothing about the island. But from 30 seconds of Googling, it seems the island’s ferry system made 4.3 million trips across The Solent (strait) in 2012/2013.

Ferry routes. Image from Wighlink.co.uk.

Ferry routes. Image from Wighlink.co.uk.

There appears to be 3 ferry routes which range from ~6km (Lymington to Yarmouth, 40 minutes) to ~8km (Porsmouth to Ryde, 22 minutes) to ~11km (Portsmouth to Fishbourne, 45 minutes). The shortest distance between the island and the mainland is about ~4-5km.

For simplicity sake, we did a quick comparison between the Lymington to Yarmoth ferry route and a theoretical 3S system.

  • Frequency: Ferry @ 1 hour wait / 3S Gondola @ 35-person cabins every ~30 seconds
  • Travel Time: Ferry @ 40 minutes / 3S Gondola @ 12.5 minutes (assuming 6km, 8 m/s)
  • Capacity: Ferry @ 360 pphpd / 3S Gondola @ 4,000-5,000 pphpd

Judging solely on these three basic parameters above, a cable car can be designed to operate at a much superior level of service than the ferry. Furthermore in terms of environmental factors, average wind speeds of 27km/h may have little effect on a cable car’s performance.

Vietnam's Vinpearl Cable Car transports passengers

Vietnam’s 3.3km Vinpearl Cable Car is built with 9 towers (7 offshore towers in a seismically prone South China Sea) and transports passengers at heights of 115m. The cable car was actually built to replace the inefficient ferry system. Image by Flickr user gavindeas.

While it’s not possible to tell if a cable car can be economically viable at this time (depends on fare structure and volume), I suspect that adding another cross-strait transportation option may help drive down ferry ticket prices.

And this coincidentally might be important to locals and visitors since the strait is considered by many online commentators as one of the world’s most expensive stretches of water (single adult ticket costs US$14.25/£10).

I suppose the irony about this “joke” is there’s a good potential that there is significant technical and economical validity behind the idea. Despite the prank, this idea might actually deserve more analysis and attention.

Laughs and giggles aside, perhaps what is the most unsettling is this: while many of us in so called “developed” nations continue to mock and ridicule ropeways, many of those in “developing” nations have fully embraced the technology (see urban gondola map) and have decided to assess it based on its merits (rather than one’s preconceived notions).

For those who think a cross-Solent cable car is impossible, they might wish to take some inspiration from Vietnam’s 7.9km Hòn Thơm – Phú Quốc Ropeway. Best part is, the system has broken ground and scheduled to open in early 2017.



Photo of the Week: Caracas Metrocable

Post by Nick Chu



Zurich Exploring Urban Cable Cars

Post by Nick Chu

As one of the countries with the highest per capita use of ropeways, one would expect gondola lines to be zipping commuters left, right and centre in Switzerland. However, that is strangely not the case as cable cars have remained mostly rural and recreational in nature.

Proposed gondolas in Zurich. Image from New Journal of Zurich.

Proposed gondola systems in Zurich. Image from New Journal of Zurich.

Nevertheless, things may soon change as recent reports indicate that Zurich is now finally catching on to the Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) movement. It appears that the Free Democratic Party (FDP), which represents two seats on City Council, has put forward 3-4 proposals for study and exploration.

The alignments connect to a variety of major attractions and nodes throughout the city, including Tiefenbrunnen Railway Station, ETH Honggerberg, Alstetten Railway Station, the Zoo, Balgrist University Hospital, and several urban districts.

Gondola crossing Lake Zurich via two 55m tall towers during Swiss Horticultural Festival in 1959.

Gondola crossing Lake Zurich via two 55m tall towers during Swiss Horticultural Festival in 1959. Image by ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv/Comet Photo AG (Zürich).

While these proposals may look new, it seems that one of the alignments (Wollishofen to Tiefenbrunnen) is merely a replay of old gondola systems that were previously operating in the city. Namely, the Swiss National Exhibition/”Landi-Bähnlis” gondola (1939) and the Horticultural Festival gondola (1959-1966) which took passengers on an aerial journey across Lake Zurich.

The 1939 gondola was an immense success, transporting 705,000 passengers during the 6-month exhibition via two 75m high towers! The system was unfortunately dismantled as its materials were required for national defence (i.e. WWII was coming).

Another view of the two 55m tall towers. Image by Johannes Schweizer, Klaus und Walter Leder - Grün Stadt Zürich.

Another view of the two 55m tall towers. Image by Johannes Schweizer, Klaus und Walter Leder – Grün Stadt Zürich.

Strangely enough, despite being a highly energy efficient mode of transport, a Green Party member actually rejected the proposals citing the negative impacts a cable car would have on the landscape. It’s somewhat bizarre but I suppose this is more politicking than anything else.

Overall, while proponents realize there are many more obstacles ahead before a system can be implemented, the Federal Council and the Commissioner have both supported the further exploration of these projects.

If online opinion polls are to be trusted — an overwhelming 82.3% (of 1891) voted in favour of the proposals — urban cable car(s) may soon, one day return to Switzerland’s most populous city.

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