Gothenburg is getting ready

Cableway project becoming increasingly more concrete

Gothenburg’s residents have been dreaming of a cableway since 2005. Over the past three years, the project has been becoming increasingly more concrete. A feasibility study shows that this sustainable and environment-friendly means of transport really makes sense in the second largest Swedish city. In an interview with Birke Müller, Christof Albrecht, a cableway planner from Voralberg, discusses the probability of the project’s implementation and what exactly is planned.


Photo: forlivochrorelse.se

Si Urban: There is every indication that the planned cableway will be implemented in Gothenburg. How does a company from Vorarlberg win such a major contract with the Swedes? Christof Albrecht: The project for a feasibility study was tendered three years ago and we were awarded the contract. Since then we work together with our partners from Gothenburg. Many promote the idea of building an urban cableway.


But in most cases, the idea is rejected as ridiculous. What are the chances that the Gothenburg project will actually be implemented? They are very good. A lot of money has already flowed into this project. The feasibility study has demonstrated that all the conditions for building a cableway are met in Gothenburg. In March 2017, a tender was launched within the framework of the so-called ECI (Early Contractor Involvement) Procurement.


The purpose of the tender is to engage a general contractor to carry out the complete detailed planning already in the early stages of the project and, if a favorable decision is issued by the city government, to build and possibly also operate the cableway. We will find out in a couple of months which company comes out victorious.

Christof Albrecht

Christof Albrecht founded his planning and consulting firm Zatran in Dornbirn in 2011. His work is based on the idea of creating a balanced, eco-social community life in urban environments through sustainable mobility solutions. As he comes from the cableway industry, 80% of his work represent cableway projects in urban areas. His goal is to achieve a harmonious living environment for all city residents, reduce urban stress factors and preserve health. He’s been working on the cableway project for Gothenburg for three years.

Are there any specific conditions in Gothenburg due to which building a cableway there makes more sense than in other European cities? Yes, indeed there are. Gothenburg’s advantage is that the only area where the cableway will traverse over private land is in Wieselgren and even there it will be only sporadically and at a great distance from the buildings, around 80 meters high.


This is also why local residents in principle endorse the idea. Individual destinations between Järntorget and Västra/Ramberget can be operated with limited infrastructure (e.g. only two towers per section) along a straight route. Natural obstacles, such as roads, rivers, industrial buildings and railways can be elegantly overcome. Naturally, a decisive factor is also that Volvo Trucks would gain direct access to the public transport network as one cableway station would be located on its business premises.


Of course, the weather is rather rough and windy that far north. Is that an issue? That is the great challenge in this project. Due to costs, a mono-cable gondola was originally planned. But first, such cableway’s availability would be significantly limited due to the frequent winds with speeds of up to 80 km per hour and the approx. 700 meters long span across the river, and second, though technically possible, travelling in wind speeds of 50 km per hour would not be exactly comfortable for the more delicate city population. With a triple-cable gondola, on the other hand, such winds, even those occurring by the river, are perfectly manageable. This means passengers can still feel comfortable and get transferred safely.


How many lines are planned? Right now only one but, if the operation proves successful, building further cross-connections is already being considered. What is the existing local transport network like and how will the cableway be integrated into it in the future?Gothenburg has a good public transport network with trams, buses and ferries. The cableway will complement this system and replace the ferry shuttle service across the river.In addition, it will also be fully integrated into the public transport tariff system, meaning that there will be one ticket valid for all means of public transport. No special ticket just for the cableway is foreseen.

Photo: forlivochrorelse.se


Will tickets be inspected as they are on a train or bus? One possibility is leaving the cableway entry open and trusting that passengers will not abuse the system, or carrying out only occasional inspections. Another possibility, however, is an electronic access system. What measures need to be adopted in connection with crossing the river? Ship navigation must not be disturbed, after all. Correct. We must not fall under the height of 45 meters.


For this reason, the height of the towers on the river banks will be 75 and 100 meters. What about transport capacity? There should be 32 cabins in operation, each offering space for 30 persons. That means 2,000 passengers can be transferred per hour in each direction. The cabins are spacious so that baby carriages, wheelchairs or bikes can be transported as well. Gothenburg is a city of bikes so this fact had to be taken into account in addition to disabled access.


And there is something quite special here, too: the cabins stop in the stations for twenty seconds for people to get on and off. This allows stress-free transfers especially for the above-mentioned passenger groups. In the center of the cabins there are supports you can lean on, or lean your bike against, while seats are only at the front end. The ride from Järntorget to Wieselgren will take some 12 min.


Why do you think cableways are so opposed in most European cities? The central theme is quite clearly violation of privacy. It also needs to be said that a cableway is no universal remedy for local urban transport. It is and will remain a niche product. In my opinion, it is an effective means of transport to connect urban peripheries but only where certain topographic and urban-planning criteria are met or where there are natural obstacles such as rivers.


Of course, thanks to a different legal framework, the situation is quite different in South America. As an urban planner, one has to carefully examine the situation on site and be sensitive in the planning. Do you think that Gothenburg could break this “opposition wall” by implementing a cableway? Yes, definitely. I think when one city starts, it can trigger a boomerang effect and other cities can start considering this step as well.


In Südamerika stellt sich die Sachlage aufgrund anderer rechtlicher Rahmenbindungen natürlich anders dar. Als Seilbahnplaner muss man sich die Situation vor Ort ganz genau anschauen und bei der Planung ganz sensibel vorgehen. Glauben Sie, dass Göteborg mit der Realisierung einer Seilbahn diesen „Damm der Ablehnung“ brechen könnte. Ja, auf jeden Fall. Ich denke, wenn eine Stadt mal startet, könnte das eine Initialzündung auslösen und andere Städte wagen diesen Schritt ebenfalls.