Public Transit: Safety Should Never Be Compromised

Post by Gondola Project

Sometimes you forget how incredibly awesome and safe cable systems are – especially when entire systems are supported by a single cable the width of golf ball.

Note: this is a repost from an original article in 2012.

Last week, guest blogger Ryan O’Connor, wrote a brief analysis on the state of HSR (high speed rail) and the potential implications and lessons cable can learn from China’s recent love affair with rail. If you haven’t been keeping up-to-date with transportation news in China, last Saturday a tragic accident occurred when two HSR trains near Wenzhou collided.

Having just recently traveled to China and experienced the comfort and convenience of HSR, I cannot imagine the pain and sorrow that the victims and their families are experiencing.

Built partly to raise national pride and joy, the entire HSR network is now under extreme scrutiny as members of the public are demanding immediate answers from the government. Unfortunately, as China continues to build and develop HSR at such an unprecedented and feverish rate, quality and safety most likely will continue to arise. Hopefully this recent tragedy will serve as a grim reminder and lesson that safety should always be the paramount priority.

While the pace of HSR and CPT development are not nearly on the same level, the fact is, cable will also continue to grow. Let us hope that the growth of CPT technology continues to develop and evolve without any major setbacks.

In fact (although I don’t have the official statistics on hand) the safety record of cable technology since its inception is  nothing short of a remarkable achievement – probably one that is neither praised enough nor one that’s given the attention it deserves.

Can you think of the last time someone died in a gondola accident as a result of mechanical failure? Last one that comes to my mind is the Peak2Peak Excalibur Gondola tower failure, but no fatalities resulted.

So to all the cable engineer dudes and dudettes that may read this blog and the supporting staff that work day and night to ensure the safety of CPT passengers, on the behalf of the Gondola Project and myself, my hat goes off to you.


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Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.


  1. Just a minor point of order: The incident at Whistler did not involve the Peak 2 Peak system. It was a tower failure on the Excalibur gondola, which occurred as the result of water which was trapped inside the tower structure and expanded during a freeze cycle, causing the tower to become separated from the base.
  2. Good catch. fixed!
  3. It is a complete different situation with cable. There is no real high speed, the system is elevated so it is safe from other traffic, it is a closed system so everything inside the system has its place. The only things which could happen is a breaking of cable (caused by being to old or they are being cut), but cable industry is aware of that fact, so the restrictions for maintenance are high and working pretty good and for attacks and what ever: it's everywhere the same. If a plane crashes into a train or CPT, result will always be bad. But remember: as far as I see Cable working, we are always talking about something of the size of a city. Around 10 km distance with all the above listed advantages. This is so different from high speed rails or ...rocket science.
  4. Correction: breaking/cutting of cable of course isn't the only thing that could happen, the towers are also very important and therefore well maintained. As well as something big and bad happens in a station - the technology is prepared well to not fail with big disasters.
  5. If you know RAPEX, you don't wonder. RAPEX is the EU rapid alert system for all dangerous consumer products, with the exception of food, pharmaceutical and medical devices. About 60% of these dangerous products are "Made in China" examples: Children's Indian fancy-dress costume Country of origin: China The product poses a chemical risk because the shiny dark-brown fabric contains azo dyes releasing the carcinogenic amine 4-aminoazobenzene in a concentration of 1 701 mg/kg. This exceeds the limit of 30 mg/kg. Category: Cosmetics Product: Hair-straightening product "Hair therapy treatment" Country of origin: China The product poses a chemical risk because it contains more than 2.15% formaldehyde. Category: Toys Country of origin: China Flower lamp made of hard plastic with five petals in various colours (orange, pink and green); the centre of the flower (yellow) comprises a push-button; The product poses a risk of choking because the ladybird and the butterfly can easily be detached and swallowed. Product: Sports boxing set "Sport Fun" The product poses a chemical risk because the red and the blue plastic material in the gloves contains 22% by weight of bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). Black hat with brim, black hatband and black lining. Country of origin: China The product poses a chemical risk because it contains azo dyes (black colours) releasing 189 mg/kg of benzidine. Product: Table lamp Country of origin: China The product poses a risk of electric shock because the wires coming out of the lamp are not properly connected to the power cord. http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/dyna/rapex/rapex_archives_de.cfm But not every chairlift with a product sign "Made by D." (ropeway manufacturer) is made by this company. They 've found about 200 copies "made in China", an act of counterfeiting and piracy.
  6. Urban ropeways should run 20 hours a day and 355-365 days a year and 20 years or more. So an urban ropeway has to be built different from a sport ropeway. An urban ropeway needs better lightning protection, better derailment protection, double motors and drives, more robust construction and better safety systems like platform doors or pinch guards at the vehicle doors and simple and fastest rescue from stopped gondolas with gondolas of the opposite direction (separated drives). And the supporting pillars of the towers must withstand crashes of heavy trucks.
  7. Great points and good to read them in one comment. What do you mean by lightning protection? About platform doors I'm not quite sure, because trains don't use them either, but when it comes to height - there could be no ground under a gondola within the station - then they would be necessary. Separated drives - you mean 2 loops for each direction on one line?
  8. You're saying that there are fake chairlifts being made right now in China? If so, I wouldn't be surprised.
  9. real chairlifts, just fake branding.
  10. Lightning protection: A copper cable from tower to tower mounted at the top of the towers. Normally towers are grounded/earthed, but if lightning strikes into a steel rope, it could damage it. Most thunderbolts are in summer, if a SPORT ropeway needs to be repaired during 14 days in summer, it is not a problem. A 14 days shutdown of an urban ropeway is a disaster. Platform doors to prevent accidents, so you don't need supervisory personal at every station. One loop for one direction, two loops for two directions. If one drive is damaged, you can save the passengers by means of the second line. Or do you have a better idea? Abseiling? Double drives?
  11. @ Guenther Do you have any proof of that claim? I could understand a few attempts.... but 200?

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