Munich Too Dreams of 3S-Cableway

Since 2009, when the idea of Thomas Kantke and Stefan Baumgartner materialized into a plan, and certainly since its presentation in 2014, many people have been very enthusiastic about the prospect of a 3S-cableway to run between the airport and the exhibition center, the technical background of which has been developed meticulously by the two planners. Soon after, it became a subject of attention even in local politics. Now one hopes that the old saying is right: All good things are worth waiting for. (Photo: Shutterstock)

A connection between the Franz Josef Strauss Airport and the Munich Exhibition Center has been an urgent concern both to citizens and politicians for a long time. Until now, however, there have been reservations about adopting a final decision. Both a suburban railway (S-Bahn) and a 3S-cableway have been the subject of discussions. For years, the S-Bahn project was ahead of the game at the political level. But now, the scales seem to be slowly tipping in the cableway direction.


There are no official statements to this end yet. Even the lord mayor, Dieter Reiter, decided to not express himself (yet) when addressed by Si Urban.“We first need to reach an agreement within the CSU in the city and the Land of Bavaria. An information disaster such as we had with the tramway across the Englisher Garten needs to be avoided with regard to the exhibition center connection,” says the city planner, Thomas Kantke. And he knows well, how slowly the wheels turn – after all, he, together with another planner, Stefan Baumgartner, not only conceived the idea but even analyzed it to the smallest technical detail already in 2014. 


Running from Bahnhof Englschalking with a stopover at Riem, the aerial connection to the exhibition center should shorten the transit time for passengers coming from the airport from 60 to 34 minutes. According to Kantke, the transfer should be available for the regular price payable under the tariff of the Munich’s association of public transport authorities (MVV) into which this fourth means of Munich local transport should be incorporated.

Thomas Kantke

The outcome of the planning process with citizens’ participation shows that a cableway of the 3S type is technically feasible and would cost around 85 to 95 million euros. The 3S-cableway would significantly improve the public transport situation in east Munich.  The requirements of air traffic management, as well as those of the Free State of Bavaria, could be met. Meanwhile, thorough calculations of the installation have been made by cableway engineers. “Not a single tree would have to be felled, the residents’ private sphere would remain intact.”

His vision, presented already in 2014, is as follows: 64 cabins circulate between Englschalking and the exhibition center on a cableway supported by five towers up to 150 meters high. 32 passengers fit into each cabin, reaching the destination in 10 minutes. In a comparison, prepared at that time, the 3S-cableway could be installed for a much better price (85 million euros) than a subway and tram (120 million euros), its interval of 2.5 minutes would correspond to that of the trams, and up to 4,800 people per hour could be transferred in each direction.

A written query about the implementation of the 3S-cableway in Munich – by the way, still the Rolls Royce of circulating cableways - was submitted to the Bavarian Parliament by one of its members, Markus Rinderspacher (SPD), already on October 14, 2015.

Since then, fierce debates have been held. But in the meantime, political background work on the project has further progressed, adds Thomas Kantke contently. And that is good as until now, he himself has borne the entire cost of the project and is, so to speak, his own client. “This is why I am twice as pleased, of course, that the number of this project’s supporters grows steadily,” he admits.

The growing approval is not surprising. Besides the fact that street traffic is on the point of collapse, thanks to the open debate and successful efforts at reaching viable compromises, people are increasingly persuaded that an urban cableway as a means of local transport can significantly contribute to a high quality of life. “Together with individual local residents, we have planned an elevation of the cable line in a number of workshops. As some of the residents were afraid that drunk passengers could drop beer bottles, we have also agreed on fully air-conditioned cabins with non-opening windows”, explains Kantke.

Many people are persuaded not only about the financial but also the structural advantages of a 3S-cableway. “With its 600 million price tag, a new subway would require a capital expenditure that is more than six times higher. The construction of a subway tower station as part of the existing subway in the Messestadt West, a resting station and a reversing loop under the shopping center Riem Arcaden, and of an underground parking garage would be extremely expensive and complex,” explains the planner.

After informative workshops, 70 per cent of Munich residents are now in favor of a 3S-cableway installation - which fact will surely make the politicians still supporting the subway reconsider, too. ah


  • Even if the lord mayor Reiter does not currently want to express his standpoint publicly, he has already done so in an interview with the Abendzeitung where he said: “The Greens have already once brought the subject of a cableway into discussion – I personally can well imagine it in some places. I do not want to exclude anything, after all, we have a daunting task ahead of us in the following years, namely to manage the population growth at a level that no other German city is facing.”

  • Bauma Munich with its 600,000 visitors is the world’s third largest exhibition after the Geneva International Motor Show (IAA) and the Cebit in Hannover. It will be held again in 2022 and until then, a solution needs to be found. During the Bauma exhibition, 240,000 single trips in both directions between the airport and the exhibition center are expected, of which 60 per cent, i.e. 144,000, will be taken with means of public transport. A cableway could transport 4,800 persons per hour in each direction, which the cableway industry confirms as absolutely possible. Every 24 seconds, a cabin with 20 seats plus standing room for 12 people would be sent on its way.