Posts Tagged: 3S



Rider’s Digest: Leitner Ropeways’ Tricable Gondola Lifts

The following summarizes 16-page glossy brochure on LEITNER’s 3S system. Also known as ‘tricable gondolas’, they have single haul rope and two carrying ropes.

Rittner Seilbahn in Renon, Italy.

Rittner Seilbahn in Renon, Italy.

Tricable gondolas features detachable grips and offers the highest transport capacity of all aerial technologies. They guarantee increased wind resistance and can also cross major spans of over 2,500 meters between towers. Cabins can be slowed in the stations — or even be stopped completely — for additional comfort when riders enter and exit the cabin.

Capacity: up to 6,000 people/h

Speed: up to 8.5 m/s

Cabin capacity: up to 35 people


Cabins are Co-Designed by Pininfarina, Ferrari and Maserati designers


  • Wide entryway speeds boarding and deboarding.
  • Seats 28 comfortably with standing room for 7 more.
  • Sophisticated lighting concept developed in collaboration with Bartenbach Lighting Design is tailored to your corporate colour scheme.
  • Collaboration with qpunkt, automotive air conditioning experts, produced a new climate control concept with continuously variable air volume and improved air-flow velocity.
  • Supercaps energy concept employs a roller generator and solar panels to power a multimedia system with high-resolution LCD screens, WiFi and sound system.
3S Symphony Cabins.

3S Symphony Cabins.

The Leitner 3S Cabin


  • Manufacturing technologies and precision components are like those used in aircraft construction.
  • Milled from solid pieces, most parts require no safety welds. Meaning? Greater stability but lower weight.
  • Additional two-way rollers in the station and garaging areas can travel on the smallest curve radii.
  • Safety: each carriage’s unique vehicle detector indicates possible roller defects. So operators know exactly where to inspect track rollers. Then, the affected vehicle can be safely transported to the end station.
  • Removable grip reduces maintenance requirements.
  • Comfort: Each carriage’s lateral damping system ensures greater wind resistance and eliminates swaying.
  • Eco-friendly roller generator contributes to the power supply in the cabin.
  • Colours of all parts can be customized to your corporate standards, except for rollers and grips.


The Advantages of the Leitner 3S System

Simple Rope Deflection

Lifts are equipped with a single haul rope deflection mechanism. LEITNER 3S systems only require four sheaves. Up to two drive sheaves and one return sheave are installed in the drive station. There is one return sheave in the return station.

+ Longer service life

+ Lower maintenance costs


Optimum Redundancy for Maximum Safety

If required, an independent drive can be installed for both drive sheaves and the emergency/evacuation drive. Of course, the LEITNER DirectDrive can be used.

+ Maximum safety

+ Greater availability


Patented Haul Rope Roller with Spring System

The lift-off load on the haul rope is minimized by the spring roller system on the support towers. The lower lift-off height results in fewer vibrations on the haul rope and considerably lower loading of the carrying ropes by the carriage rollers.

+ Increased service life of the carrying ropes

+ Quieter ride


Optimized Accessibility

All mechanisms are directly accessible and thus easy to check and adjust. The outer station turnaround is accessible while walking upright for ergonomic and safer working.

+ Simplified maintenance

+ Safety for maintenance staff


The Flexible Switch Points System

The switch points are designed for optimum flexibility. The rapid switching cycles allow the vehicles to be pushed in and out during operation. The garaging procedure can be executed at running speed. The compartment-style system enables manual control of the switch points.

+ Flexibility

+ Time savings

+ Availability


Compact Station Design

The low installation height reduces cubage and costs. The new 3S carriage permits minimal curve radii in the station and the very narrowest curves in both directions in the garaging area.

+ Cost savings

+ Flexibility

3S Prodains Gondola

3S Prodains Gondola

Examples of LEITNER Tricable Gondolas In Situ 

The brochure closes with summaries of working and coming Leitner tricable systems. (The beautiful mountain vistas may be distracting for urban planners considering transit issues but the statistics are useful.)


Ritten/Bozen, Italy

Inclined length: 4,544 m

Vertical rise: 949 m

Transport capacity: 726 people/h

Power: 900 kw

Total vehicles: 10

Total towers: 7


Les Prodains, France

Inclined length: 1,751 m

Vertical rise: 576 m

Transport capacity: 2,400 people/h

Power: 2x 530 kw

Total vehicles: 4

Total towers: 2


Stubaier Gletscher, Austria

Inclined length: 4,092 m

Vertical rise: 1,137 m

Transport capacity: 3,000 people/h

Power: 2x 530 kw

Total number of vehicles: 48

Opening: 2016


Zermatt, Switzerland

Inclined length: 3,760 m

Vertical rise: 900 m

Transport capacity: 2,000 people/h

Total number of vehicles: 25

Opening: 2018


Download the complete brochure here.


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Longest 3S Cable Car Breaks Ground in Vietnam (Phú Quốc to Hòn Thơm)

3S Alignment. Image from Doppelmayr.

3S Alignment. Image from Doppelmayr.

This week Doppelmayr began construction on the world’s longest single section aerial cable car. The 3S system will be 7.9km long and will transport up to 3,500 passengers per hour between An Thoi town in Phu Quoc district and Hon Thom island. The area is famous for its clear blue waters and white sand beaches and is set to become a world-class tourist destination.

The cable car is part of a US$458.4 million development project consisting of hotels and an entertainment complex. The ropeway will surely also become an attraction itself, transporting passengers over the sea with towers up to 160m tall. For reference, the Eiffel Tower is 301m, not even double these towers.

For maximum safety, this 3S lift will utilize Doppelmayr’s innovative recovery concept which ensures that passengers will always be carried to the nearest station in emergencies.

Sun Group Corporation is one of the Vietnam’s largest real estate developers and has already built the record-setting Ba Na Hills Cable Car and is on schedule to build the Mt. Fansipan 3S Cable Car.

For more information, click here.

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Weekly Roundup: 7km TDG/3S Cable Car Planned for Fansipan, Vietnam

Fansipan, mountain in Vietnam’s Lao Cai province. Image by Flickr user ePi.Longo.

A quick look at some of the things that happened this week in the world of cable cars, urban gondolas, and cable propelled transit:

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The New Taris 3S Cabin From CWA

3S Cable Car

The New Taris 3S/TDG Cabin by CWA. Image by Steven Dale.

It’s been a busy month for me what with Interalpin, Alpipro and the launch of our new Guide to Gondolas, hence the spareness of posts for the last couple of weeks.

Now that I’m back into the swing of things though, I’m going to spend the next few posts discussing some of the highlights of both Interalpin and Alpipro to give readers an idea of what’s on the near horizon for the cable transit industry. 

Glass is a material taken for granted in life. It’s everywhere and we only really notice it when it’s missing or broken—hence my excitement upon seeing the new Taris 3S cabins by Swiss manufacturer CWA.

Glass is a relative rarity in cable transit. You see it sometimes in Funiculars, Cable Liners and Aerial Trams, but I cannot recall a single instance of a Detachable Gondola that was equipped with glass panels and windows. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t exist—but if they do, we’ve never heard of them.

(Now before I get ahead of myself, allow me to clarify something: More often than not, the “glass” I’m referring to above isn’t glass at all. Instead, the glass that’s used in a cable transit system is often a shatter-proof polycarbonate material that approximates—to a remarkably high degree—the look and feel of real glass. So when I refer to glass walls and windows in a cable transit system, know that I’m talking about fake glass that looks real, not real glass. Got it? Good.)

The windows and doors in most detachable gondolas—and that includes current iterations of the 3S—have always tended to look, feel and sound like cheap plastic. In turn, that cheap plastic aesthetic has practically imbued gondolas with a cheap plastic quality. Other transit technologies such as buses and light rail vehicles tend to use real actual glass panels. This gives “real” transit systems a degree of heft that gondolas have always lacked.

This may seem like a small point but it’s not.

To a large extent, cable cars are in a war of perception. People simply don’t perceive them to be public transit—hence, they’re not public transit. That’s what was learned a couple decades ago by transport scholars Neumann & Bondada. They learned that the transit planning world fundamentally  misunderstood almost everything about cable car technology. They perceived it, quite simply, to not be public transit.

Perception is a funny thing because it’s a self-fullfilling prophecy—the simple perception that a ski lift cannot be used as public transit reinforces the idea that it is not public transit. That’s a nasty vicious circle to that cable manufacturers have had difficulty breaking out of.

That’s the importance of the Taris’ (fake) glass windows—they change perception. Real transit has real glass. Now, so too do gondolas. Cable transit now has a technology with the heft of a “real” transit vehicle and feels completely unlike the ski lift models that have preceded it—and when I say that, note that I’m including the Koblenz Rheinseilbahn in that class of ‘ski lift models.’ Despite that system’s innovative urban concept cabins, it doesn’t approach the Taris’ degree of heft, finesse or general overall urbanity.

Another feature of public transit that’s as standard as they come but has been lacking in detachable gondola systems has been air conditioning. It’s a feature that’s been around for a while now, but has still been the exception rather than the norm. Yet look at the CWA website and you’ll see that the Taris is being offered with an (optional) commercially available 24V air conditioning unit in the same way that their Omega series of cabins are. That’s a change from their past line of 3S cabins which currently aren’t (and I don’t believe ever were) offered with AC.

The final thing to note about the Taris is the cabin capacity. CWA states that the maximum capacity model of the Taris to be 45—a significant premium above the 35-40 that’s typically reported about 3S systems. That’s a 12.5%-28.5% increase in capacity for those that care about those sort of things.

Where the space for those extra 5-10 people are coming from, however, isn’t entirely clear because dimensions aren’t given for either the Taris nor older model 3S cabins. So there’s a few possibilities:

  • The Taris is legitimately larger than standard 3S cabin models;
  • the upper capacity limit of the Taris is presumed to be without any standing room;
  • the capacity numbers have been adjusted to reflect a typical urban commuter—which typically occupy less space and are less heavy than ski lift patrons (due to gear) or;
  • this is just a marketing gimmick.

Furthermore, it’s not at all clear if this increase in cabin capacity will have any actual impact on overall system capacity. It’s all fine and well to increase cabin capacity, but if that only results in fewer vehicles on the line (instead of an increase in pphpd), then all that’s been realized is an increase in cabin crowding and wait times between vehicles—a overall net decrease in cabin capacity.

No matter what the capacity implications, it’s clear that the Taris is targeted to the urban transport market.

According to my conversations with CWA during Interalpin, the company intends it to become the new standard in 3S systems, especially for the urban market. As of yet, we don’t know what the price premium associated with the Taris is, but it’s reasonable to assume it will be significant. It is, after all, a brand new vehicle tailored to a market that can absorb a cost premium well beyond that which a ski resort can.

Notwithstanding the lack of clarity on issues of capacity, it’s clear that this is a big leap forward for the industry.


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This Week’s Tweak — 3S

In an effort to continually improve and expand the offerings on The Gondola Project, each week we’re rolling out a “tweak” to the site. If there’s a part of the website you’d like to see “tweaked” send us an email at gondola (at) creativeurbanprojects (dot) com. 

This week, it’s a tech update series. So far we’ve gotten the new MDG and BDG pages up.

Today we’re announcing the newly updated 3S page.

You can find the page here, or from the Learn the Basics page. As always, more pages coming soon!

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Sochi’s Olympic Gondolas – Game Changers in Waiting

No, this is not what it will look like - but it's still a pretty great photoshop, no? Via

While everyone’s all a-buzz about London successfully completing their cable car in time for the Olympics, the subsequent Olympic cable cars may, in fact, be of far greater importance to the technology’s spread.

While no one can doubt the importance of having cable transit on display in one of the world’s most-touristed cities during one of the world’s biggest events, the system itself is highly unremarkable. With the possible exception of the custom-designed towers, there’s hardly anything noteworthy about London’s off-the-shelf MDG system. That’s not a criticism, it’s just a fact.

2014’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, however, are going to push cable technology in directions its never been before.

While the 20-odd lifts being installed are largely for alpine/resort locations, the technological advancements are huge:

  • Two of the lifts will be of the advanced 3S variety.
  • The first of the two lifts will have an intermediary station – the first 3S ever to have such a feature. No word yet if there will be an turn co-located at the station.
  • The first of the two lifts will also have the capacity to transport cars as well as passengers. We know this has already been accomplished with Funitel technology but this would be the first 3S to ever have such a feature.
  • The second of the two 3S lifts will be the longest 3S in the world at 5.383 km.
  • The second of the two 3S lifts will also approach and possible eclipse the 30 km/hr barrier – the first known detachable gondola to ever reach such speeds.

These are the kind of technological leaps the industry isn’t known for, but should be.

If the big industry players (and their customers) can commit themselves to continual improvements and advancements such as these, the future for the technology looks great.

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Urban Gondola Transit as Minivan?

Advancements in 3S and MDG technology have largely eliminated the need for Funitel and BDG technologies. If you’re considering a Funitel, you might as well go with a 3S. The 3S is faster, with higher potential capacity and reasonably similar capital costs. A 3S also doesn’t incur the high energy consumption cost that’s typical of the Funitel technology.

Similarly, the BDG’s only real advantage over the MDG is a moderately higher maximum speed (27 km/hr versus 22 km/hr), without any real capacity or wind stability improvements. Not surprisingly, however, the BDG has a higher capital and O&M cost than the MDG. If you’re considering the BDG, you’re therefore likely to opt for the MDG in the end.

That leaves us with a low-end market technology (the MDG) and a high-end market technology (the 3S). But what about the middle-market?

The curious thing about markets like Burnaby Mountain and Calgary are that the environmental conditions there are such that the wind stability offered by the 3S make it the logical choice.

However when you look at the capacity, speed and cost factors in both those situations, an MDG would suffice fine. Both cities would be more than content with an MDG system were it not for the needed wind stability. In fact, wind stability is the only reason for either of these cities to actually opt for the 3S. Is that worth the extra cost?

Let’s be clear, cost is a major impediment to implementation. At a price point of 2-3 times that of an MDG, it becomes much harder for a city to justify implementing a 3S over a more standard transit technology. However, with a wind stability threshold 30% lower than a 3S, it becomes impossible for many cities to implement an MDG.

See the problem?

You may not need all the bells and whistles of a 3S, but the one bell-and-whistle you do need (wind stability) the MDG doesn’t possess. You therefore must opt for the 3S.

So here’s the challenge and opportunity for the industry: Design a technology priced somewhere between an MDG and 3S system (in both capital and O&M costs) that offers the capacity and speed of an MDG but the wind stability of a 3S.

Think of it as the Minivan of cable transit:

"Seating for eight people at the price of a family-sized sedan? No way!"

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