System Dossier: Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Post by Jonathan Brodie

Spectacular view of the rainforest, Coral Sea, and Cairns from the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Image by Rainforest Skyrail Cableway.

Rainforests are some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems despite covering only 6% of the earth’s surface area. In fact, rainforests are so diverse that they contain more than half of the planet’s plant and animal species. These tall, dense jungle regions are replete with valuable resources such as a variety of foods, raw materials, and medicines. Unfortunately, large swaths of rainforest are destroyed each year for the purposes of mining, timber, and grazing cattle.

Australia, on the other hand, has been a leader in the protection and preservation of these forests. The Wet Tropics of Queensland located in northeast Australia is a World Heritage Site covering over 900,000 hectares and is internationally recognized as one of the world’s pristine tropical rainforests.

A popular excursion that allows tourists to experience this tropical rainforest is the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, a 7.5-kilometer cableway that travels above Baron Gorge National Park and Macalister Ridge. This ambitious project was proposed in 1987 by a 5th generation Cairns family, the Chapmans, who currently still own and operate the system today. Due to the rainforest’s sensitive nature, many years were initially spent consulting with local, state, and government officials as well as seeking approval from the indigenous Djabugay tribe in order to ensure maximal environmental and cultural protection.

When construction began in 1994, the developers used an innovative set of techniques that were new to cableway developments in order to adhere to the strict environmental codes imposed on the project. This included no swath clearing along the cableway route, no new access roads, and minimal interference with the rainforest environment. Additionally, the cableway towers and stations were placed strategically in areas of the rainforest where gaps already existed, reducing the number of trees that had to be removed.

When Skyrail was completed in 1995, the ropeway was recognized as the longest multi-stage Monocable Detachable Gondola (MDG) system in the world. Since its inception, numerous upgrades have improved the system’s riding experience including the installation of eleven Diamond View glass floor cabins in 2013. Today, the ropeway continues to be a unique attraction as it is a part of a larger tourist experience that takes riders deep into the rainforest.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Image by Flickr user Eric.

The gondola experience begins at the Smithsfield terminal, which is located 15 minutes north of the coastal town of Cairns. From Smithsfield, the system stops at two mid-stations, Red Peak Station and Barron Falls Station, before reaching Kuranda – a small rainforest village. Both mid-stations offer their own their unique experience that allows passengers to hop on and off the gondola and learn more about the interesting rainforest environment by foot.

At Red Peak Station, a complimentary Ranger guided tour is provided along a boardwalk, and at Barron Falls Station, riders have access to lookouts over the Barron Gorge and Falls as well as access to the Rainforest Interpretive Centre. While the gondola travels at a maximum speed of 5 m/s, the system often moves at a slower pace giving riders an optimal amount of time to enjoy the scenic views.

Lookout over the Barron Gorge and Falls. Image by Flickr user Shaun Johnston.

Lastly, the gondola reaches its conclusion at Kuranda Village. This relaxing, laid-back village gives tourists a first-hand experience of life in the rainforest. From handcrafted jewelry to the local cuisine, and an Australian wildlife attraction, there is no shortage of options for visitors to learn and experience everything that the rainforest has to offer. All in all, visitors typically spend 1.5 hours one way and 2.5 hours roundtrip experiencing the cable car and its associated amenities. Tour packages are available and can be combined with the Kuranda Scenic Railway – a train built over 120 years ago that also connects Kuranda to Cairns.

The incredible success that Skyrail has experienced can be seen with the numerous national tourism awards and international environmental awards representing a breakthrough in ecotourism and sustainable tourism standards for many projects to come.

To see the cable car in action, check out the live webcam provided on the Skyrail website.


Length (km) 7.5
Year Opened 1995
Capacity (pphpd) 600
Cabin Capacity (persons) 6
Stations 4
Speed (m/s) 5

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Orange Line Undergoes Testing, Set to Open in October

Post by Gondola Project

Orange Line (Línea Naranja). Image from miteleferico.bo.

After drones began pulling the pilot rope in May, construction and technical work has continued to advance quickly on La Paz’s Orange Line (Línea Naranja) cable car. This week, an online video from La Razón’s Facebook page reveals that the system is now undergoing testing.

Mi Teleférico’s Executive Manager César Dockweiler announced that the inauguration of La Paz’s fifth Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) system is scheduled for the first week of October if everything goes according to plan.

The Orange Line is the second ropeway (after the Blue Line) to open as part of the city’s Phase Two US$506 million urban gondola plans (Red de Integración Metropolitana).

With four stations and a length of 2.6km, the Orange Line will improve connectivity to more than five neighbourhoods in La Paz. Passengers will be able to move seamlessly through the cable car as the system’s terminals are connected to the existing Red Line and the upcoming White Line.

Designed to operate at capacity of 3,000 pphpd with 127 cabins, the system will reduce travel times to 9.5 minutes. In preparation for its October opening, students and young professionals have already been invited to join the Mi Teleférico team by submitting their resumes.

After the Orange Line opens for passenger service, the White Line is expected to follow suit by starting operations in December.

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Small Swiss Ropeways Threatened

Post by Gondola Project

To many visitors and locals, aerial ropeways are considered an integral part of Switzerland’s cultural identity. Since the country’s first cable driven system was built in 1866, Switzerland has designed some of the world’s most unique and spectacular cable systems.

Today, despite having just a population of just 8.3 million, more than 1,700 ropeways are currently operational!

Unfortunately, the existence of about 200 of these systems (or 12%) of the nation’s cable cars are now under threat due to a new cable car law that was passed in 2007. These 200 ropeways are small systems that allow tourists to experience the country’s alpine culture and mountains while providing farmers a vital transport link.

The new laws are designed to harmonize regulations across all lift operations (regardless of company size) to ensure greater safety and conformity to EU standards. However many small systems, which only charge a few francs per ride to low volumes of passengers, do not have the financial resources necessary to implement the costly upgrades.

For some small lifts, it is estimated that approximately 1 million francs (US$1 million) are necessary to obtain new permits.

Small ropeway companies argue that the new regulations are too stringent. As such, many are now banding together to lobby the government. Image from Luzernerzeitung.

The federal government contends that they cannot make exceptions until politicians and lawmakers make the necessary changes in parliament.

Luckily, efforts through workshops and lobbyist groups are already underway to ensure that these systems remain an intact for future generations to come. In the meantime, inspectors stress that passengers need not worry about the overall safety of these small ropeways. In fact, statistics demonstrate that Swiss ropeways are the country’s safest mode of transport!

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Photo of the Week: Awana Skyway

Post by Gondola Project

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Santiago Releases Urban Cable Car Tender

Post by Gondola Project

Plazoleta Nueva Zelandia / Tobalaba Station at Costanera Center. Image from ciudadempresarial.cl.

Latin American cities continue to be at the forefront of building Cable Propelled Transit (CPT). Just this week, Chilean Public Works Minister Alberto Undurraga released tender details for a 3.2km urban gondola in the Chilean capital of Santiago.

The system, known as the Teleférico Bicentenario, will improve transportation connectivity between two business hubs located in the communes of Providencia and Huechuraba — currently separated by Cerro San Cristobal (hill). Three major nodes will have stations including Costanera Center, Cerro San Cristobal and Ciudad Empresarial.

Costanera Center is a major skyscraper complex that is home to not only South America’s tallest building (Gran Torre Santiago, 300m) but also to the continent’s largest mall (Mall Costanera Center). At this complex, a station will be located at Plazoleta Nueva Zelandia, 170m from the Tobalaba interchange station on Line 1 and Line 4 of the Santiago Metro.

Cerro San Cristobal Station (mid-station). Image from ciudadempresarial.cl.

Ciudad Empresarial Station. Image from ciudadempresarial.cl.

From Costanera Center, the cable car will travel northwest and make a stop at Parque Metropolitano before arriving at Ciudad Empresarial. Ciudad Empresarial is a business complex with more than 30,000 workers and 700 companies. With the new cable car, travel time between these two nodes will decrease by nearly 70% to 13 minutes.

The Teleférico Bicentenario will have 26 towers, 147 10-passenger cabins and headways of 12 seconds. The system will offer riders 17 hours of daily service, delivering up to 3,000 passengers per hour per direction. While a fare structure has not been finalized yet, a maximum ticket cost of US$0.90 (CLP 600) has been proposed. Proponents hope that the ropeway will be fare-integrated with the rest of Santiago’s public transit network.

According to online sources, the concept for the urban gondola was initially developed by the private sector seven years ago. The market will have until November 23 to respond to the US$80 million project before a 30-year concession is awarded on December 21. Afterwards, the winner will start detailed designs and engineering before the gondola is launched in 2022.

Santiago is no stranger to ropeway technology as the recreational gondola, Teleférico Metropolitano, has been part of the city’s infrastructure network since 1980 (rebuilt 2016). When the Teleférico Bicentenario opens, the Chilean capital will join the ranks of eight other Latin American cities who have already built CPT.

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Photo of the Week: Queen Cable Car

Post by Gondola Project

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Hơn 180m đó. Cao quá đi.

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#halong #quangninh #captreonuhoang #sunwheel #bien

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System Dossier: Mexicable

Post by Jonathan Brodie

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With a population of 21.2 million people, Mexico City is the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world and one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas. Similar to many megalopolis’, the city faces incredible challenges when it comes to congestion. In fact, the Mexican Capital has been ranked as the world’s most congested city where residents spend an average of 2.5 hours each day commuting!

To improve transportation options for its residents, a 4.9 kilometre Cable Propelled Transit (CPT) system was built in 2016 in the disadvantaged hillside community of Ecatepec de Morelos. The 7-station line, completed by LEITNER Ropeways, transports passengers from the isolated region of Sán Andres de la Cañada (located at the Sierra de Guadalupe mountain) to Via Morelos where commuters can connect to the Mexibús system.

The Monocable Detachable Gondola (MDG) system was financed through a combination of public and private sector funds with the federal and state government covering 40% of implementation costs. Thanks to the cable car, travel times have been reduced from 1-2 hours to just 17 minutes.

While Mexico’s first urban cable car has shaved countless hours off commute times, relieving transport congestion is not the only noticeable benefit of the system. Numerous socio-economic benefits such as increased tourism, a greater sense of inclusion, and enhanced passenger safety have all been reported by residents.

As one of the most dangerous municipalities in Mexico City, Ecatepec residents were often a victim of crime while taking public transit in the past. However, since the opening of the cable car, residents have reported being robbed less while feeling much safer onboard a secure gondola that is being constantly monitored by CCTV.

In addition, the cable car is electrically powered which significantly reduces COemissions. This advantage is particularly important in a city that is consumed by extreme levels of smog.

Lastly, the cable car has brought important progress to Ecatapec, one of the poorest regions in the city. Street lamps have been built, roads have been paved, and public spaces have been revamped. Over 50 street-art murals were painted along the cable car route, helping create a more scenic and memorable ride. Since opening, Mexicable has been a remarkable success and continues to attract approximately 20,000 riders per day.

Year opened 2016
Length (km) 4.9
Line Capacity (pphpd) 3,000
Cabin Capacity 10
Stations 7
Fare 6 pesos (US$0.30)
Trip Time (minutes) 17

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