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Urban ropeways : The optimal system

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Detachable ROPEWAY trams
or called "Cable Propelled Transit" or "urban gondolas" ( U.S. / CAN )
as public transport vehicles of the FUTURE ?

PLEASE NOTE: This single page contains suggestions for small details, descriptions, and for a (networked) cable car system of the future, theoretical ideas, that go beyond the state of the art of the present and needs testing and development!

The cable car in the city has a future. Intra-urban gondolas can solve many traffic problems and transport problems, especially in the developing world. Renewable energy can be used for sustainable transport, CO2 emissions will be avoided, exhaust emissions are significantly reduced in the streets and at the same time increasing the quality of life of urban residents.

The optimal system...

...will always be a mix of different kinds of personal transportation for different transport capacities!

Looking to the future of a cable car line or an Urban Ropeway Detachable (URD) / Urban Gondolas Detachable (UGD) Network in the plain, uphill / downhill or in combination "plain plus uphill/downhill" I prefer the following

Urban Cable Car types = Cable Propelled Transit CPT (US/CAN) :

  • Bicable Gondolas Detachable (BGD) [ or Bicable Ropeways Detachable (UK) ], wind-resistant up to 90 km/h, cabins up to 24 people, speed 4.0-7.5 m/s = 14.4-27.0 km/h = 8.9-16.8 mph
  • Tricable Ropeway Detachable (TRD) [ or 3S Aerial Tramway (US) or Tricable Gondolas Detachable or 3S Cable Car (UK) ], wind-resistant, cabins up to 35 people, double-decker cabins possible, including cargo transport, speed 4.0-7.5 m/s = 14.4-27.0 km/h = 8.9-16.8 mph
  • or a Monocable Ropeway Detachable (MRD) (for low wind areas, gondolas up to 10 people)
  • Funiculars with larger transport capacity
  • Reversible (or Jig-back) Ropeways to transport a large number of people with high speed (up to 12.5 m/s = 45 km/h = 28 mph) between two stations

Exploit the benefits of
Tricable Ropeways Detachable (TRD)
under these conditions :


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Without supports directly from station to station, station distance 600 m for walking distance in the 300-m radius

destination stops

Each station with overtaking opportunity, turning circle, cable car garage and a faster pass through option

destination stops

Curves are handled hanging on rails in the stations


Better no lowering of the gondolas on pedestrian level, but it is possible. Lifts for barrier-free access


With electric direct drive of the (extra) railwheels within the stations

linear motor drive

With heating (brake power) and Air-Condition (supercapacitors)

linear motor drive

Direction and opposite direction, with separate but connectable drives. Increases reliability, for facilitating rescues


In narrow roads hanging on fixed rails.


Less gondolas in the evening on the road, but every time a gondola in the station ready

destination stops

Transport capacity up to 3,800 people per hour per direction,with parallel lines, the higher



Speaker and intercom system in every gondola


An informative report about the Tricable Ropeway Detachable at the Federal Garden Show of Germany 2011, Koblenz, you can read at Steve Dale's exciting website 'The gondola project'
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Monocable Ropeways Detachable (MRD)
Tricable Ropeways Detachable (TRD)
Urban Ropeways Detachable (URD):

Current biggest gondolas of MRDs transports a maximum of 10 persons. With a cabin every 30 seconds you can transport just 1,200 passengers per hour and direction. The cable car manufacturers make a promise of up to 4,000 passengeras per hour and direction (with other gondola intervals, minimum about 12_seconds) and maximum support distances of 200-400 m (650-1,300 foot)

Funitel®-Ropeways and TRDs providing better wind stability (than Monocable Ropeway Detachables) and have larger gondolas, both are moved at two ropes, whereupon the weight is evenly distributed. The suspension on two ropes offers outstanding lateral stability for operation at wind speeds up to 100 km/h (62 mph), better than with monocable systems, where gondolas can commute (swing) strong. Before the storm gondolas of winter sport ropeways are driven to the garage or cease operating. Urban ropeways cannot stop the operation if the wind is just stronger (than 65-72 km / h, 40-45 mph) blowing. Nevertheless, some monocable ropeways are already as intra-urban transport system in operation (Algeria, Medellin, Caracas, etc.).

More about the
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Tricable Ropeways detachable have two track cables and one haulage rope
Quadcable Ropeways detachable have two track cables and two haulage ropes.

The advantages of these systems are:

  • on the track are few moving parts, their maintenance, repair and replacement are usually expensive and time consuming,
  • Most moving parts are on the gondolas, it's easier to repair gondolas in the gondola repair garage
  • less energy is needed to move ropes with less mass
  • less rope deflection sheaves are needed than with Funitel®-System
  • less energy is required, the cables are easier to bend / deflect at the deflection sheaves ( less friction loss )
  • the ropes are more durable, because the thinner traction cables don't wear off so rapidly as haul ropes, rope exchange means high costs and idle times.
  • the track cables can be more tensioned and do not sag, and so you don't need so high supports,
  • longest tension fields ( up to 3 km! ) without supports can be bridged.

Disadvantage is that supports are expensive and complicated.

You must know the expected traffic to achieve the optimum of transport capacity. Gondolas have a higher transport capacity than buses, but less than equal to trams ( trams run more frequently than buses). Overhead lines of streetcars are expensive, but the vehicles of tramways have a longer lifespan than buses.

Gondolas can be used as feeder lines to make territory at suburban areas, but they are rather an unprofitable transport at outskirts of settlements with sporadic density of buildings.. Sometimes the people get access to public life only by a ropeway line. Excessive traffic peaks (students in the morning, rush hour, major events) can be problematic in urban cable cars, they could be lowered with flexible working hours in the factories and differentiated lessons start at schools.

Reversible Ropeways

Double-decker gondolas are conceivable in the inner city. An interesting approach offers the CabriO®-Bahn (01/2011 in construction) at switzerland. [external Link to] , a reversible or jig-back ropeway ( two cabins, which travel between the terminals) only for transportation of passengers. Innovative is the upwardly open double-deck cabin, the upper floor is an open panorama deck and can be achieved from the lower deck on a spiral staircase ( if the weather permits it). Each floor 30 passengers can be transported. sheave wheels at the track rope (which supported the weight) are mounted larerally (ropes at a distance 5 m = 16 ft.), the rotation axis runs through the ceiling between the upper and lower cabin deck. Traction of reversal ropeways is provided via a in the front and rear of the cabin fixed haulage rope. Here a number of existing cable car-variants (open rain forest gondola cabins + double-deck-cabins + all-round windscreen + Tricable Ropeway Detachable) were combined to a great novelty.

picture gallery [ external link to ]
Official Website of Lucerne Tourism [external link to ]

Links in German language:

newspaper article [ external link to ]
Neue Züricher Zeitung"
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Double-decker gondolas could be realized with Tricable_Ropeways_Detachable too, but not in a Cabrio-version.

Combined passenger and cargo transportation sytem

Urban ropeways could be realised as an intra-urban combined passenger and cargo transportation system, with

  • Tricable_Ropeways_Detachable (TRD)
  • Reversible_Ropeways (RR)
  • Monocable_Ropeway_Detachable (MRD)

At combined passenger and cargo transport cabins (single-deck or double-deck) you find folding seats and holding loops for passengers and hanging devices (most commonly a one-rail system) for cargo.

Looking to the future

Urban cableways going up
The ropeways newspaper
ISR recently conducted the following interview with Michael Seeber on Leitner’s activities in the field of local public transportation.
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Caricature from Dusan, Toronto Star January 23rd 2010,
found at Steven Dale's fascinating website "The gondola project" about urban ropeways.

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