Lyon Cable Car



Lyon Cable Car, Part 2: The Missing Piece?

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!

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.



Lyon Cable Car, Part 1: The Missing Piece?

Post by Charlotte Boffetti.

For French version of this post, please click here.

In just one year, four different groups have proposed four different cable car concepts in Lyon — France’s second largest city. Throughout the country, there are roughly a dozen urban gondola proposals in various stages of the planning and development process. Some are in detailed design while others are still very much in the idea stage.

Tramway Aerian proposal rendering. Screenshot from Youtube user jean-marc Bergue.

Tramway Aerien proposal rendering. Screenshot from Youtube user jean-marc Bergue.

CPT is becoming increasingly popular and recognized for its ability to solve urban transit challenges. In fact, this focus on cable cars is partially related to the proceedings of the “Grenelle de l’environnement” — a large conference which promotes sustainable development. During this meeting, cable cars were seen as a new best practice for enhancing public transit and encouraging the development of sustainable transport policy.

Since then, the idea has reached the tables of many different political parties, municipal governments and practicing professionals.

As part of our ongoing journey to document and examine urban CPT systems across the world, I thought it would be interesting to focus in on the Lyon concepts and examine how it is planning to improve transportation connectivity in the City.

Proposal 1 : “Tramway Aérien” – 8.5 km, 9 stations

The first proposal (2012) — Tramway Aérien — was developed by “Club de l’Ours”, a think tank of public and private actors in Lyon. Their concept was to link several major points throughout the downtown area. Based on their estimates, the system will cost €60 million.

Tramway Aerien proposed route. Image from Google Map.

Tramway Aerien proposed route. Image from Google Map.

Proposal 2 : “Aérotram” – 6 km, 7 stations

The Aérotram proposal was developed by Eric Lafond, a centrist candidate in the upcoming 2014 municipal elections. This proposed alignment is very similar to Tramway Aérien system and follows almost the exact same route. The major difference is a reduction in line length and stations.

Aerotram proposed alignment. Image from Google Maps.

Aerotram proposed alignment. Image from Google Maps.

Proposal 3

The third proposal (2013) was developed by Georges Fenech, a right party candidate who’s also vying for a position in the next election. Unfortunately, there are currently no details on his proposal.


Proposal 4 : “Télécabine Urbain” – 7 km, 9 stations

The fourth proposal (2012) has come from “Agir la Mulatière”, an association linked to a left-wing party. Unlike the aforementioned concepts, they have proposed a completely different route. Their plan is to connect Lyon’s western periphery to the downtown area.

Telecabine Urban Alignment. Image from Google Maps.

Telecabine Urbaine Alignment. Image from Google Maps.

With the municipal election approaching (2014), cable cars have become a significant political topic. CPT proposals have been included in the program of two different candidates from two different political parties. Will they compete for the idea? Possibly, but it would be really amazing if thanks to cable car, all political parties can actually agree on something!


General Thoughts
It seems that most proposals, if not all of them, are responses to existing transit issues related to congestion and accessibility. Because of the many topographical challenges in Lyon (i.e. 3 hills and 2 rivers), providing rapid transit connectivity to some parts of the city has been difficult with traditional transit technologies.

With that said, it is important to note that Lyon already benefits from a large and highly connected road and public transport network. The City is made up of more than 120 bus lines, 4 metro lines, 2 funiculars, 4 tram lines, 3 tram-train lines and 320 km of bike lanes. However, even with the City’s extensive transport network today, it can still be challenging or long to access some parts of Lyon.

In addition, since the City is still plagued with congestion problems, implementing a CPT line could be a great complement to the overall public transit network. It can have a real impact on the lives of Lyon’s residents by improving mobility options and by offering the chance to easily navigate over/across hills and rivers. From a policy perspective, CPT supports the City’s transportation plans/objectives which encourages alternative modes of transport.

So the big questions remain. Are these concepts credible and feasible? And can they really improve traffic and mobility in Lyon? In our next post, we will examine these proposals more closely and provide some additional comments and observations. Stay tuned!

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.