Posts Tagged: Doppelmayr



Weekly Roundup: Doppelmayr has just released the new TRI-Line gondola

Doppelmayr TRI-Line Talstation, Photo Rendering by Doppelmayr
  • The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) announced their preferred transit alternative is the gondola for Little Cottonwood Canyon. 3S gondolas, also known as tricable detachable gondola (TDG), are highly reliable because they can handle harsher weather conditions. A 3S has two track ropes with the sole purpose of stabilizing the cabins and one propulsion cable. It’s estimated the gondola will ease congestion on the canyon by 30%, but critics accurately say the system will primarily benefit Alta and Snowbird skiers. The largest user group causing congestion throughout the canyon are resort skiers and the gondola is only intended to operate during the wintertime. It will take up to three years to install the gondola, which will be the world’s longest, and in the meantime other temporary traffic measures will be used to reduce congestion.  UDOT is taking public comments on the gondola proposal until October 17. See a related Weekly Roundup here.
  • Doppelmayr has just released the new TRI-Line gondola. The TRI-Line is an innovative combination of the 3S and D-Line model, the latest model of Doppelmayr’s monocable detachable gondola (MDG). The major benefits of the TRI-Line are compact stations similar to the D-Line and a high capacity of moving up to 8,000 people per hour per direction. We will have more details about this new technology soon, stay tuned.
  • London’s cable car is to be rebranded as IFS Cloud Cable Car in October. Transport for London (Tfl) has announced a two year sponsorship deal with the technology company, IFS. IFS is a fast growing global technology company that will be completely rebranding the cabins and stations. The cable car had approximately 1.5 million passengers in the year leading up to July 2022. See a related Weekly Roundup here.
  • The Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit (LA ART) development company donated the Dodger Stadium gondola project to Climate Resolve. The gondola project was proposed in 2018 by LA ART, led by the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The vision is to build a 3S gondola that will move people between Union Station and the Dodgers Stadium with two intermediate stations. Climate Resolve is an environmental nonprofit that focuses on combating the impacts of climate change. LA ART will continue to fund the entitlement phase of the project with Climate Resolve responsible for shepherding the project through the entitlement process, assembling the funding package, and managing the construction phase.  See a related Weekly Roundup hereSCJ Alliance is part of this project.

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Apprenticing at Doppelmayr Part 2: A Win-Win (Everybody Gains)

The Doppelmayr apprentices' workshop in 2014

The Doppelmayr apprentices’ workshop in 2014

Recently we reported Doppelmayr’s contracts to construct new ropeways of record-breaking lengths and heights. Before that, we wrote about the company’s apprenticeship program. According to Ekkehard Assmann, Doppelmayr’s Head of Marketing and Public Relations, the two stories are more closely related than you may think. He attributes much of Doppelmayr’s recent successes and wins to the quality of all the members of its teams, and “many of our senior employees have come directly out of the apprenticeship program, starting as junior members.”

This past September, Doppelmayr announced the launch of their latest apprenticeship program with a photo of 22 young men and women. That number seemed like a lot to us. “For Doppelmayr, it’s not a lot,” he says. “We’d say it’s just about right.”


Doppelmayr has a long history of apprenticeship. Indeed, the company founder Konrad Doppelmayr was himself apprenticed to the town blacksmith early in his career, and the company has been formally training young people ever since.

The original workshop in 1979.

The original workshop in 1979.

However, the modern program was born in 1979 with the creation of an apprentices-only workshop. Before then, apprentices were trained on the factory floor, an arrangement which created its own set of challenges.

Just 9 new employees inaugurated that workshop, beginning their apprenticeships and careers with the company. 25 years later, that number had risen to a total 50 apprentices. Today Doppelmayr is training 92 apprentices.


After extended months of gaining skills and confidence, trainees are paired with skilled workers in assorted departments. They are regularly moved around to acquire other skills and training. By their fourth year, they will have chosen a specialty.

Of course, since 1979 when the workshop was opened, advances in technology have continually changed the nature of the training within it. Consider all the almost innumerable innovations in steel construction, metal and electrical engineering, plant and industrial technology, and of course computerization.

“25 years ago, production was very conventional,” recalls Georg Dür, the head of Doppelmayr’s apprenticeship department. “With new technology the teaching job has become more sophisticated, challenging and extensive. The knowledge and skills demanded of apprentices is much greater now.”


Apprentices receive first-rate training, in strict accordance with Austria’s educational standards. Indeed, all of Doppelmayr’s electrical and metalworking instructors have qualifications from the Vorarlberg Economic Chamber and Chamber of Labor. (They also all began their careers at Doppelmayr.) Since 1997, Doppelmayr has continually been awarded “Apprentice Excellence,” a 3-year title recognizing companies in the Ausrian state of Vorarlberg with top standards in training.

The entire program is designed to educate the apprentices in the fields of mechanical and electrical engineering, but with a specialization in ropeway production. Dür says he is always looking to improve the program and maximize all the apprentices’ work experience with the company. “We take pride in helping each apprentice achieve their training goals with top marks.”

To accomplish those goals (the apprentices’ and his own) Dür inserts himself deeply into the students’ experiences. “I am the contact person for all kinds of schools, especially those providing vocational education, but also special interest groups for the local economy, like job fairs.” Reminding us how young the students, he says “I am also in contact with parents.”

Dür says apprenticing realizes a big return on investment for Doppelmayr and for himself. “Teaching keeps you on your toes. You need to remain relevant in our fast-changing world. Young people are so keen and show us a lot.” He says that teaching apprentices has helped keep him feeling younger too.

“I’m always impressed with what young people are able to achieve. They manage their schooling and private lives with family time, sports, volunteerism and the like. And they do it all with such positivity.”



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Medellin/Caracas, Part 1

Last week I travelled to Medellin, Colombia and Caracas, Venezuela to tour five of the most important CPT systems in the world. This is Part 1 of a photo essay on those systems. In this part, a brief overview of the history of cable transit in this part of the world will be explained. Image by Steven Dale.


Modern Cable Propelled Transit started in Caracas, Venezuela with the Mount Avila Gondola. This system was originally built in the middle of the last century to carry people from Caracas to the top of Mount Avila where the luxurious Hotel Humboldt had been built. Political and economic strife caused the government to leave for neglect both the hotel and gondola. The gondola itself was not reopened until 1999, after a successful rebuild.

The Avila Mountain Gondola In Caracas. Image by Steven Dale.

An Avila Mountain Gondola From Below. Image by Steven Dale.

A gondola passes over two original and well-preserved antique gondola cars at the Mount Avila Caracas Terminal. Image by Steven Dale.

The Avila gondola cannot, however, be truly classed as cable transit. It lacks integration to the local transit network and really exists more for tourists, not local commuters. It did, however, indirectly inspire the nearby city of Medellin, Colombia to pursue a fully-integrated CPT system to serve the impoverished and dangerous barrio of Santo Domingo. The system would take almost 5 years to open, from conception to fruition and would be the world’s first true CPT system. They would name it The Metrocable. The first line, consistent with the city’s existing Metro system, would be named Linea K.

A Linea K Metrocable Car in Medellin, Colombia. Image by Steven Dale.

The Metrocable over top the Santo Domingo barrio. Image by Steven Dale.

Gondolas depart a Linea J Metrocable station. Image by Steven Dale.

Metrocable Linea K would be an enormous success. Crime rates in Santo Domingo plunged and area investment skyrocketed. In the four years since Linea K opened, crime in Santo Domingo virtually disappeared, jobs have increased 300% and 3 banks have opened along the Metrocable route. With such an obvious success story, Metro officials had little trouble convincing decision-makers to open Linea J.

Unlike Linea K, Linea J would connect several smaller barrios in the western end of the city. These barrios suffered from similar economic conditions but did not have the population density that Linea K had. This was considered a good thing as Linea K suffered from overcrowding almost immediately upon opening, a situation not witnessed on Linea J.

A Linea J gondola. Image by Steven Dale.

Meanwhile, Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela was not to be undone. The opening of the second Metrocable line in Medellin made Chavez lust after a similar system in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. Within 2 years, Chavez’s dream would be realized with Caracas opening their own cable transit system in early 2010. It was also to be named The Metrocable.

Like the Medellin systems before it, the Caracas Metrocable would provide transit to under-serviced barrios with a history of crime and poverty. But unlike the Medellin systems, Caracas would feature enormous stations that included social facilities such as gymnasiums, police stations, community centres and markets. The Caracas Metrocable would also be the first in the world to feature extreme 90 degree turning radii at stations.

Gondolas enter and exit a station in Caracas. Image by Steven Dale.

The Caracas Metrocable. Image by Steven Dale.

The Metrocable loop between Medellin and Venezuela came full circle in early 2010. While Chavez was opening his first system in Caracas, Medellin was opening their third Metrocable line. But this time, the line looked more similar to the original Mount Avila system from Venezuela circa 1999.

While still fully-integrated into the Medellin Metro, the new Linea L services the Parque Arvi at the top of a nearby mountain in Medellin and requires an additional fare of 1,550 Colombian Pesos (roughly $1 US dollar). Linea L would give quick, affordable access to wilderness and parkland facilities that had previously only been accessible to wealthy land-owners in Medellin. This was a welcome change, given Colombia’s historically wide gap between rich and poor.

A Linea L gondola. Image by Steven Dale.

Medellin as seen from the Linea L, Parque Arvi nature preserve. Image by Steven Dale.

Both cities are engaged in major plans to expand their Metrocable offerings and cities throughout Latin America are embarking upon cable transit plans of their own.

Read Part 2.

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

BMW 7-Series Gondola Cabin. Image from


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The Peak 2 Peak (Part 3)


Image by Steven Dale

Last month I toured Whistler’s Peak 2 Peak cable gondola system. This is Part 3 of a 3-part series on the system. Click on the following links to view Part 1 and Part 2.

Most aerial cable systems offer a smooth ride. What little friction there is, is rarely felt by the rider. Except, of course, when it comes to passing over towers. When passing over the sheave assemblies attached to these towers, riders tend to feel a noticeable bumpiness and accompanying noise. To some, it can be slightly unnerving. The older and more basic the system, the more pronounced this is.

The Peak 2 Peak’s 3S technology does away with these nuisances. When passing over the towers, there is virtually no change in noise level nor smoothness of ride. The engineers should be commended for this feat. Not only does it make the ride more pleasant, it makes the technology more palatable to the psychological fears of riders not accustomed to cable technologies.

The towers are, however, quite large compared to less advanced systems. This is partly due to the technology in question but also partly due to the distance between towers. At it’s most extreme, 3 km of ropes, vehicles and skiers are supported by only two intermediary towers. It’s an engineering marvel, but means the towers are giants. The four intermediary towers range between 35 to 65 metres in height!

(Such tower heights would be too large for an urban environment unless extreme design changes are made. Granted, I can think of only a few urban situations where a 3 km towerless span would be required.)

As I said earlier, everything about the Peak 2 Peak feels oversized and enormous. Use whatever superlative you like, it probably applies to the Peak 2 Peak.

Except when it comes to the engine.

I’ve seen my fair share of cable transit engine rooms and they’re almost always underwhelming. One sees these massive systems and one expects a corresponding engine room. That expectation almost never meets reality. The Peak 2 Peak is no different.


Peak 2 Peak Main Engine Room. Image by Steven Dale

The Peak 2 Peak’s main engine and drive is located beneath the station in a bland, white subterranean room. The sound of the engine is deafening, but the engine itself is nothing much to behold. Despite it’s fire engine red coat of paint, the machine is unassuming. It’s small enough to fit inside a streetcar with room to spare for a half dozen riders and their backpacks.

That this piece of equipment moves 18 km’s of steel cable, 28 vehicles, 4,100 passengers and a steel bullwheel is remarkable. In fact, it’s almost unbelievable. What’s even more unbelievable is the diesel backup engine. The back-up is less than half the size of the main drive but can switch on within seconds of a main engine failure.

Redundancy is the name of the game here.

Of course the engine doesn’t do all the work. Gravity does much of it. The “belly” (I love that term) or sag of the rope is significant, on the order of three or four hundred metres. As maintenance engineer Sean Duff explained to me, the belly of the rope allows the system to capture potential energy (gravity) and use it to its advantage. Vehicles descending the belly pull vehicles up the belly. The engine only has to provide enough energy to compensate for the difference.

According to Sean, it’s an incredibly efficient system.

Because the Peak 2 Peak is a horizontal system, Sean explained, the system actually uses less energy than do the other gondolas on Whistler Mountain. Whereas the other systems must typically drag hundreds of people up the hill (with very few people using the system to descend the hill), the Peak 2 Peak has a relatively constant load on both directions. This causes a counterbalancing effect which reduces energy consumption.

When, however, a system with more “vertical rise” has more people descending the lift than ascending, it’s not uncommon for engineers to witness energy consumption drop below zero. That is, the system is basically generating energy because the weight of the descending line is heavier than the weight of the ascending line.


Image by Steven Dale

It’s refreshing how accessible the system’s engineers and maintenance staff are. Part of that accessibility is due to their presence. Unlike other transit technologies, cable systems tend to have engineers and maintenance staff onsite at all times of operation. As more-and-more cable systems demand near round-the-clock service (especially in airports), long shut downs for maintenance are just not a possibility.

This has caused the cable industry to adopt a policy of preventative maintenance. Throughout the course of their workdays, cable engineers are not fixing problems after the fact, they’re preventing them from happening in the first place.

As I said in Part 1 of this series, I doubt the Peak 2 Peak was really meant for skiers. Skiers want to go from the top of a mountain to the bottom, not from the top of one mountain directly to the top of another.  But that’s not really the point of the Peak 2 Peak.

Instead, the Peak 2 Peak is a statement of cable’s advances. Is it necessary? No. Is it overkill? Completely. But at a total cost of only $57 million, this overkill is still more cost-effective and deeply efficient compared to our traditional transit solutions.

It may be at a ski resort, but it’s transit through and through.

Return to Part 2.

Return to Part 1.

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Why Cable Propelled Transit Was Chosen In Oakland

Source:  Bay Area Rapid Transit

Source: Bay Area Rapid Transit

As I mentioned yesterday, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) agency announced on Thursday that the Oakland Airport Connector would be a Cable Propelled Transit system. This was a major breakthrough by a cable technology as it competed head-to-head with two other self-propelled transit technologies and won.

One of the reasons cited by BART for awarding the contract to the Parsons/Flatiron group was that their bid came in $60 million dollars less than the initial estimate of $552 million. That’s 10.8% below estimates for anyone whose counting. Considering most transit projects are completed significantly over budget, that’s impressive, assuming of course they can stay on budget.

Cost, however, was likely not the only motivating factor. Increasingly, transit agencies are noticing cable for what it is: A simple, cheap and effective method of transit compared to other more traditional technologies. Consider a recent report by the American Society of Civil Engineers in their publication, Automated People Movers, 2009 (you can find a limited preview of it at Google Books).

In it, the authors investigated people mover systems by method of propulsion. What did they find? Lots:

“It is observed that technologies that use external propulsion, for instance by means of
cables, currently offer the best efficiency indicators when compared to other technological solutions for propulsion and power transmission.” Page 245

“The interest for a technology also marked by the use of an off-vehicle propeller system strengthens the potential of simple but smart technologies, hopefully cheaper than that dominated by the market until nowadays.” Page 248

“Three (of the five most efficient systems studied ) are cable-propelled from Doppelmayr, one not specified and one is the (untested) pneumatic Aeromovel. The systems with lower efficiency scores… are based on self-propelled vehicles.” Page 252

“From the seven least efficient systems, under this analysis, six of them are based on rubber-tired self-propelled vehicles and one is not specified.” Page 254

“Technologies based on alternative propulsion methods, for instance by means of cables or pneumatics, represent a strong potential to become benchmarks.” Page 255

Things are changing. Maybe we should pay attention.

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Telecabine de Constantine

I’m traveling today and am out of internet contact (why can’t more airlines fix that problem?), so we’re going to watch a video (like when your high school history teacher was sick with strep throat)

It’s short, it’s in French, and it should inspire the transit wonk in all of you (especially starting at 0:56).  Enjoy:

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