THE URBAN CABLE TRANSPORT MAGAZINE

Wuppertal


Discussions about cable car have been going on for years
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The Wuppertal Suspension Railway is world-famous. Its operation began on March 1, 1901. For many years now, the North Rhine-Westphalian city has been discussing whether a cable car should also be built to supplement the existing public transport network.

ne agrees with this project which has been gathering dust at Wuppertal’s city hall since 2012. The idea has divided the city in two camps. But let’s begin with some facts: The plan is to build a 2.8 kilometer long, circulating triple-wire cableway with six towers, a maximum height of 70 meters and a minimum height of 6 meters. It would transport 3,500 passengers per hour in 44 cabins, i.e. around 17,000 passengers daily.

 

A Park & Ride area with 130 parking spaces would be built at the upper station. The estimated annual energy consumption is approx. 2.2 GWh. The cable car would run from the city’s central train station (Hbf) across the university grounds all the way to the school center of Küllenhahn in the south of the city. University students, lower-level school students, working people but also tourists would be the future passengers.

Cable Car pros & cons


The project was first introduced to the public by the municipality of Wuppertal, a city with a population of 350,000, in May 2015. But ever since then, it has been up in the air. Decisions have been repeatedly postponed although the municipality’s arguments are good: A cableway is environment-friendly and sustainable, independent of the rest of the city traffic, it could significantly relieve the existing traffic situation thanks to its high conveying speed.

 

It requires a very small area but offers high transport safety. Moreover, a cableway has disabled access, the operation costs are extremely low and so it would be optimal for the city of Wuppertal with its great height differences within the inner city. The municipality, along with the local public utilities company (WSW mobil GmbH), commissioned a feasibility study which has confirmed the technical feasibility of the project.

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Opponents of the planned project include Marc Gennat, director of the citizen’s initiative “Cable Car-Free Wuppertal”. He explains why he is against the cable car: “There’s nothing wrong with a cableway in and of itself. If I take the Koblenz example, it makes a lot of sense. But the situation in Wuppertal is completely different!

There are no great height differences here, the route would simply lead from A to B.” He further adds that if the cable car were actually built, the routes of the existing bus lines would be shortened and their time-cycles prolonged – this would present a disadvantage for many people. Moreover, Gennat is very critical of the completed feasibility study because its calculations are based on, e.g., 365 days of usage.

 

“University students don’t go to the university five times a week,” stresses Gennat, “and they also have holidays, just like students from other schools. This means that the actual figures would look very different.” And he also sees a source of error in relation to transit time. “The time of transit by cable car from the central train station to the university is to be three minutes.

 

But first one has to get to the cable car station and then from the exit point to the university building. That adds up to approximately another six to eight minutes of transfer on foot!” The pros and cons are also very complex. Someone, who sees this subject from a completely different perspective and does not make the decision any easier, is Jörg Heynkes, an expert on electro mobility and artificial intelligence. He says that a cableway does not make much sense in Wuppertal.

 

He is convinced that the end of the automobile age is already in sight. “In five to ten years, only 20,000 to 30,000 cars will be driving down the streets of Wuppertal instead of today’s 200,000.” He prophesizes that people will travel by self-driving vehicles that they will call from their mobile phones to pick them up and take them wherever they need to go. And so there are many different opinions that are ultimately the reason why this project has dragged on for so long.

Cable Car Wuppertal Facts

  • Cableway length: approx. 2,800 m
  • Height difference: approx. 165 m
  • 6 towers between 42 m and 70 m in height
  • Max. cableway height: 70 M
  • Min. cableway height: 6 m (university)
  • Average height above build-up area: 30–40 M
  • Cableway system: triple-wire circulating
  • cableway
  • Capacity: 3,500 persons/h and direction
  • 17,000 passengers per day, Approx. 44 cabins
  • Cabin sequence approx. 32 sec
  • Transit speed 7,5 m per sec
  • Minimum speed in the stations
  • Disabled access
  • Transit time Hbf – university approx. 3 min
  • Transit time Hbf – Küllenhahn approx. 9 min
  • P+R at upper station with min. 130 parking  spaces and B+R
  • Annual Energy Consumption approx. 2.2 GWh 

Sorting out the lower station


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The last important meeting of the city council was held on June 10. Is the end in sight now? “Yes and no,” answers Holger Stephan from the public utilities company, WSW Wuppertal Stadtwerke GmbH. “A structural engineering solution for the cable car lower station to be located on the central train station grounds needs to be found now. According to the plans, it should be located on the site of the current lost-and-found office. This basically means that the implementation of the plan now depends on the railway company. But the planned purchase of the land will definitely take months!”

University students and management take a positive view of the project too and believe that the cable car would be a great asset to Wuppertal. That is also what the feasibility study says. “We deliberately informed the public of the planned project very early on in the process. The conclusions of the feasibility study are very positive and the calculations were carried out in accordance with standardized methodology used in this field – the figures are definitely correct,” concludes Stephan. bm