New Urban Gondola in Ulm, Germany?

Post by Steven Dale

Route plan of the Ulmer Seilbahn (in red).

Do we have another Koblenz on our hands here? Perhaps.

Proponents in the German city of Ulm are the latest group to suggest an urban gondola transportation system.

The system, dubbed the Ulmer Seilbahn, is a 3S system connecting the city’s train station to a nearby university, 3.3 km away. It’s estimated to cost between €35-40m and would move 3,000 pphpd.

As is often the case, a lot of what we know about the concept is lost in translation as the website is only available in German (which makes logical sense). Questions I have include whether this is a public transport initiative or a public initiative? How far along the process is this? Why 3S instead of MDG?

So as always, we encourage our German-speaking readers (or those who are better at deciphering Google Translate than I am) to chime in and help us figure this one out.

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  1. This seems to be a private proposal of an architecture/building company already involved in Koblenz BUGA exposition , the 3S system was chosen probably for covering large spans w/o many pylons. Ulm University is on a hill 140 metres higher respect city, currently is connected by bus, but there are plans to expand the tramway network problem is that a line prolongament would cost more than 150 millions euro.
  2. Additionally 3S provides larger cabins which is required for baby prams, shopping carts, and wheelchairs. All new public transportation system must be barrier free and be able o accommodate handicapped persons. Means also that the vehicle must make a full stop. this is difficult with many small cabins like in a MDG The system will have an intermediate station. From my experience it was always troublesome to board a MDG at the intermediate station. Video surveillance is also common today again fewer cabins are easier to monitor. IMHO for Europe a cabin size for public transit requires a Funitel or 3S because a MDG cabin is full if you load a baby pram in it.
  3. In fact due to Ulms homepage http://www.linie2-ulm.de/ tram number 2 to from Kuhberg to Wissenschaftsstadt is just in planning phase. 2014 will be the building start of the first section Wissenschaftsstadt (Science Town). The choosen trace totals about 10km got level 1,4 (whicht is very good) in the standardized asessment, thus gaining federal subsidies of about 50 Mio €. In total the project costs 115 Mio €. Maybe the comment from Giorgio XT ist based on more actual dates - on the other hand compared with costs of other projects like e.g. in Innsbruck (not the estimation, but the real cost in the final account the building costs should not exceed 40 Mio € for a double track tram line of this length. Maybe the 10 tramcars were also included in the calculation. But this would only lead to costs of about 30 Mio € in addition - so I think the line must be built in a very high standard -or the transfer fees for privat ground are that high (which would alos be a problem for a ropeway) As seen here http://www.linie2-ulm.de/die-neue-linie-2.html the trace needs no additional bus-lines to become fully operational - compared to the "Ulmer seilbahn".
  4. One reason for the quiet high estimeted costs of the tram might be this: http://www.linie2-ulm.de/fileadmin/linie2/content/-SWU_Architekturbroschuere_Download.pdf There is a combined 270m tram, bicycle and pedestrian - bridge over the railway station planned. This bridge will also form a 1/3 shortened connection isolated from heavy road traffic for the inhabitants of denesly populated areas north west of the station to the town center -either on tram, bike or foot. This will be an additional bargain of the project - but also more expensive... Btw. The bridge offered some problems due to listed buildings around.
  5. MGD were made with 15-places cabins, so there isn't a technology wall that impose a 3S or Funitel. You may even put bigger cabins on a MGD, now we mostly see the gondola as they were shaped by ski and mountain industry use, but these are more environment-specific evolutions than forced choices.

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