Heiner Monheim:Scable cars are built in cities only out necessity


More and more are cableways set up also in urban areas. But so far, they are only built out of necessity. For example when a large event is planned..

In such situations, urbanists and politicians suddenly realize that a cableway would be THE solution, explains Heiner Monheim, traffic expert. For many years now, he has been passionately campaigning for smooth mobility and thus also improvement of the quality of life in cities. “So far, the situation has always been such that a sudden occasion comes up and then a cableway is quickly built!” emphasizes Monheim.


Rather than giving more thought to alternatives, traditional means of transport, such as additional buses, are considered to solve the relevant problem. “But a bus also drives on the streets”, notes the expert, “and so a decision is made to build a cableway out of sudden necessity”.


He explains why planners only think of this environment- friendly means of transport at the very last moment: “The problem is that a cableway is seen as competition to the existing integrated transport system. That’s why the first reaction is always defensive.


By the way, people in Germany only laughed at my ideas 10 years ago.” It is true that there has been a change in thinking since then and a couple of projects have actually been implemented. But the underlying motive for building a cableway – as part of an event - remains. Monheim offers the Hannover example: “The EXPO was held here in 2000.

Koblenzer behalten ihre Seilbahn

A cable car was built and five months later dismantled again!” It connected the northwest point with the southeas corner of the exhibition grounds over a distance of a total of 2.9 kilometers. The towers were up to 50 meters high, each of the 136 cabins had room for seven people. The cost of the cable car was around 25 million German marks. On October 31, 2000, the EXPO closed its gates and the cable car disappeared never to be seen again.

Koblenz keeps its cable car

Monheim mentions another project meant to be only temporary: the Koblenz cable car. Here, too, an event was held in the past - the 2011 Federal Horticultural Exhibition, thanks to which the cable car, still operating today, was built and installed in 14 months. The UNESCO heritage conservators demanded at that time that it be dismantled after the exhibition.


Thanks to the thousands of people who campaigned for its preservation, the cable car can now be operated until 2026. The Koblenz cable car is very important not only for tourism. It has also become a means of city transport as it connects the old town with the fortress plateau where many events are held. Monheim names another project implemented out of necessity: the Cologne cable car, an adventure cable car intended to be used only for the Federal Horticultural Show.


“I am actually not very fond of it”, admits the traffic expert regretfully, “it could have been used for many more purposes and connections. Cologne had very few bridges at that time and the traffic situation in the center has been very difficult. The city could have used several cableways!”


He describes that in France the planners think differently. An integrative approach towards urban renewal has been implemented there. What’s more: businesses invest into urban transport in the form of special contributions enabling faster implementation of de cisions and consequently also quicker economic returns. “Germany is just a developing country after all,” concludes Monheim laconically.


“It is the engineers who are in charge here!” And the list could go on: Hamburg (a cable car for a stage theater over the Elbe river: project died off), Berlin (a cable car intended primarily for events), Bonn (discussions going on for years). “To convert non-believers,” concludes Monheim, “one would have to demonstrate how it all could work.” And he encourages cableway entrepreneurs once more to keep pushing for preferred projects. But politicians and residents must rethink, too. “Wake up, Europe!” urges Monheim. bm