With its 253 cableway enterprises, Austria is quite rich in alpine mountain railways. But so far, it does not have a single urban cableway. But even the motherland of mountain railways is experiencing a change in thinking. Urban installations are being discussed in a number of cities - as many as three cableway projects are under discussion in the capital city of Vienna.
Urban cable transport systems’ potential is discovered in the motherland of mountain railways
The cableway to the Kahlenberg is the most famous Viennese example. The Vienna Chamber of Commerce and the cable car manufacturer DOPPELMAYR are planning a six-kilometers long gondola lift to lead from the central metro station “Neue Donau” along the Danube river and then to the top of the city’s look-out point, the Kahlenberg. The feasibility study prepared by DOPPELMAYR is based on 63 gondolas but, if necessary, the number of cabins, each with a carrying-capacity of 10 persons, can be increased to 94.
As many as 1,000 to 1,500 persons could be transported per hour. Based on experiential values from other urban cable transport projects, DOPPELMAYR estimates 600,000 annual visitors. Transit time is calculated to be 19 minutes. “One cannot make it that fast either by public transport or by car”, argues Michael Bitterl of DOPPELMAYR.
Josef Bitzinger from the Viennese Chamber of Commerce sees even more advantages: “The cable car to the Kahlenberg would definitely be a magnet for tourists, with its zero emissions, low noise-level and barrier-free accessibility.” Besides, it would relieve the traffic situation on the Kahlenberg and in the adjacent city quarters. And, of course, there’s the fun-factor and the panorama view. The purely private financing of the 30-million-euro project has already been secured, the project concept is ready to be submitted, with only the politicians’ thumbs-up outstanding.
City cableway along the Danube
On the other hand, a cableway along the banks of the Danube would serve the city residents much more than tourists. The cableway would connect several metro and suburban railway stations, city quarters and industrial areas. “A public connection along this route has been needed for a long time”, explains Gerda Müller, city politician.
A cableway could ease acute traffic issues, especially as the project foresees commuter parking. According to her, the advantages of an urban cable transport system are even more numerous: “A cableway can be set up quickly, it is substantially cheaper than building a metro and it is environment-friendly”. The city, with support from the politicians, is currently considering the feasibility of the idea. If the project gets the green light, the cable car could be established within just three to six months.
Cabins designed as planets are planned for the city cable car in Linz. Photo: Kepler Forum Linz
Connection to the university and the metro
A cableway over the Otto-Wagner grounds in the west of Vienna is still at the stage of a mere idea. By 2025, a city quarter with universities and research institutes is planned on the grounds of the former Otto Wagner Hospital which will be developed.
City politicians are pushing for a 4.6-kilometer-long gondola lift that would interconnect two metro and suburban railway stations, as well as several street blocks within the time frame of 17 minutes. The 70-million-euro cableway would transport 2,000 persons per hour. “That is equivalent to 40 buses,” says Wolfgang Gerold, city politician.
The Viennese should be able to use this means of transport with their regular public transport network card, higher-price tickets for tourists are under discussion. Compared to the cableway, construction of a metro would be out of proportion both in terms of its cost and capacity, stresses Gerold.
“Planet” cable car in Linz
In the meantime, a very special cableway is being planned in Linz. To honor Johannes Kepler, the astronomer, the Kepler Forum Linz has prepared a concept for a cableway with cabins designed as planets. The cableway would connect central cultural facilities and junction points on the Danube and at the same time contribute to solving the shortage of parking spaces on the Schlossberg.
The planned cost is 50 million euros, of which approximately 30 per cent, i.e. 15 million euros, would be privately-financed. “The experience in Linz shows that a privately-built, planet-design cable car gets done faster than a publically-built bridge,” says Dionys Lehner, the project’s initiator. The planners would like to have all the permits issued by the 2018 Kepler anniversary. ts