Lyon Cable Car, Part 2: The Missing Piece?

Post by Gondola Project

Post by Charlotte Boffetti.

For French version of this post, please click here.



The Tramway Aérien and Aérotram proposals are quite similar with respect to their routes and their station locations.

In general, both link the north and south of downtown Lyon via a rough “U-shaped” alignment. The Tramway Aérien is slightly lengthier as it has a section that extends westbound from Fort du Bas de Loyasse.

Tramway Aérien and Aérotram proposals.

Tramway Aérien and Aérotram proposals.

From a preliminary analysis, these routes seem to make sense for two reasons. Firstly, it responds to landscape difficulties by crossing two rivers (Saône and Rhones) and by linking two hills (Fourvière and Croix-Rousse); and secondly, these routes are currently not served by any forms of rapid transit. In this sense, these CPT lines could be a great complement to the public transport network and may offer an attractive alternative to driving.

What is incredibly interesting and ingenious about these proposals is that they plan to build certain stations on top of old and unused fortresses. This could reduce the footprint of the CPT system and could potentially lessen implementation costs since the fortresses are city-owned. Furthermore, a cable car connected to these buildings could help repurpose them and reintegrate them back into the City.

Fort de Loyasse. Image from

Fort de Loyasse. Screenshot from Youtube.

Fort Saint Irenee. Screenshot from

Fort Saint Irenee. Screenshot from Youtube.

To increase connectivity with other transit modes, the southern-most terminal would be built on the roof of “Perrache” — a major mobility hub in the City with connections to the highway, train, subway, tram and bus. It’s a good strategic location to encourage multi-modality and a clever way to integrate a cable car to the existing transport network.

Moreover the City announced last month that Perrache will be renovated and modernized by 2020. This could be a good opportunity to prepare Perrache to integrate a cable car station sometime in the future.

End terminal Perrache. Screenshot from

End terminal Perrache. Screenshot from Youtube.

A potential stumbling block to these proposals is that the routes seems to travel above housing (particularly in the “Croix Rousse” area). While this could raise privacy concerns for residents, a solution to this challenge could involve the installation of smart glass in cabins where the windows turn opaque when entering areas with sensitive land use.



Proposal 4 plans to link the south-west periphery of Lyon with the new activity hub “Confluence” in downtown. The Télécabine Urbaine is essentially comprised of two lines:

  1. Station Gare de Francheville <> Station Confluence
  2. Station Gare Multimodale <> Station St. Foy Bourat
Télécabine Urbaine.

Télécabine Urbaine.

Historically, the south-west of Lyon has had poor transit connectivity and as a result, many residents relied on their cars. This area also suffers from many topographical challenges that limits the implementation of trams and subways. Less costly solutions, such as the addition of buses, would have negative consequences on traffic. As such, the idea to implement a cable car could be incredibly advantageous.

A cable car could offer a quick link that is not only less expensive than transit technologies, but can be built with less disruption to the existing neighbourhood. It could also make Lyon’s peripheral areas more attractive by providing easier access to the downtown area.

However, large-scale efforts have already began that opens up the west side of Lyon. Most notably, millions Euros have already been spent on the recent construction of a “tram-train” (€300 million) and the soon to be opened Line B subway extension to Oullins (€220 million Euros). As such, immediate questions that come to mind are: does this area need/deserve anymore transit investment? And will the new rail projects be sufficient in serving the needs of the community?

Considering the progress already made for transport infrastructure in this area, it is questionable if a cable car is necessary at this time. Unfortunately at this moment, we don’t have enough time to judge of the success and effectiveness of the two new transit investments.



From this brief analysis, it appears that all route proposals are credible and could solve current transportation connectivity issues. However, there are still several matters that need clarification. In other words, despite some preliminary studies that provide basic statistics (i.e. price, stations, length, capacity, time travel…), there are still many unknown variables.

For example the Tramway Aérien concept proposes “six aerial lines and two lines on the ground”. What exactly does this mean? Does the cable car operate in both an aerial and terrestrial form? Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have a clear answer to these questions yet.

And for the other proposal, Eric Lafond — the candidate who developed the Aérotram concept — seems have an answer for everything, even if the answers are somewhat surprising. When asked about privacy issues, his response was that a cable car would travel so fast that a passenger’s set of eyes would not be able to “fix onto any image“. Fortunately, his response to aesthetic issues was slightly more sensible as he explained that towers could be covered by vegetation to reduce visual impact.

So while these proposals need further refinement, all in all it is a good start. Whether or not they will be realized in the next few years, the proponents of these projects seem to have successfully planted the seeds for a future cable car in Lyon.

This makes me excited and curious to see where and what these concepts will eventually lead to. Personally, I think it would be an awesome experience to see our beautiful city from the sky!

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  1. Very cool proposals. Nice to see how many are being conceptualized in one city. Hopefully some gain traction in the future. I love the fortress stations. Very creative.
  2. The images seem to indicate a pulse gondola configuration. I hope that's just what the illustrator happened to crib from Google; I can't imagine that setup working with a system this size.
  3. I guess it can't be a pulsed Gondola, because pulsed Gondola have fixed grips, so it can't turn. These routes proposals seems to require a Gondola system that is capable of turning.
  4. The stations are rather small. If they want to built stations like shown in the pictures pulsed gondolas are a necessity. On the other hand pulsed gondolas would require that station have all the same distance between each other. AFAIK Charlotte is right fixed grip system can only make turns to the inside of the loop. some ski lifts make 270° turns for the empty downhill t-bars. IMHO the graphics are over simplified with very small stations and no towers. If the system gets built it will look very diffferent. I guss teh will also be some opposition against building stations on top of historic fortresses.

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