New ropeways

Maiden trip up the Gaislachkogl

On 4 December 2010 representatives of the press were invited to join the party for the first official ride on the new Gaislachkoglbahn built by Doppelmayr in Sölden.

As is generally known in ropeway industry circles, Sölden’s old Gaislachkoglbahn has been replaced by a two-stage installation employing two different ropeway systems. The first section is a monocable ropeway operating with 8-seater gondolas, while the upper section is a tricable 3S-Bahn with 30-passenger cabins.

The capital investment for the two installations totaled 38 million euros.
On the eve of the big day, the media people were treated to a presentation of the new high-speed facility, with exciting visuals and equally impressive technical data. The 8-seater gondola, example, has a transport capacity of 3,600 P/h, which is a world record for a monocable system. And, with its mountain terminal at 3,040 m above sea-level, the 3S-Bahn occupies the highest location of any installation of this type.

Such records make good telling, but users are more interested in other aspects like convenience and a comfortable ride, and this is definitely a strong point of the new Gaislachkoglbahn:

• convenient access via escalators and an elevator,
• barrier-free loading and unloading for all user groups,
• spacious platform areas for relaxed loading and unloading,
• comfortable CWA cabins.

The terminals, with their exciting looks, are a particularly striking feature of the new installation. Johann Obermoser Architects created three distinct yet coherent designs for the terminal buildings; the common denominator is to be found in the harmonious rounded contours of the structures, which comprise a light and airy steel frame wrapped in a transparent synthetic skin. That produces extremely bright interiors and puts Doppelmayr’s elegant ropeway engineering in the limelight.

Talking of ropeway engineering, what is on display here shows that progress never stops, that continuing innovations are generating real enhancements in terms of transport capacity, system availability, safety and comfort. While the first stage boasts a world-record transport capacity of 3,600 P/h, the upper section features an impressive new rescue system, which operates without the need to evacuate passengers from the cabins on the line.

Apart from the innovative ropeway engineering, construction of the Gaislachkoglbahn also involved some advanced civil engineering solutions, such as the permafrost foundations needed for the 3S-Bahn’s top terminal and pressure frame. Indeed, although concealed from the public eye, this is the real engineering masterpiece of the new Gaislachkoglbahn. The challenge was to design the foundations for the upper terminal in the permafrost zone at the summit in such a way that any uplift or subsidence in the foundation area can be compensated. This was done by placing the supporting frame for the floor slab on 23 individual footings, each incorporating a hydraulic height-adjustment system.

Maiden trip

After Johann Obermoser as the architect, Michael Doppelmayr as the ropeway manufacturer, and Jakob and Klaus Falkner of Bergbahnen Sölden had performed the traditional act of cutting the ribbon, the maiden trip could begin – and the mid-line station was reached in just a few minutes.
Before the ride continued on the second section, the invitees were treated to a glass of Sekt prior to a repeat of the opening ritual, this time with the spiritual fathers of the new Gaislachkoglbahn on hand to cut the ribbon (see photo).
Following the maiden trip , the installation was declared open for public services – to the evident delight of numerous enthusiastic winter visitors.
In conclusion: the new Gaislachkoglbahn is an Austrian ropeway in a class of its own!
Josef Nejez

Clearly in a happy mood, the spiritual fathers of the new Gaislachkoglbahn cutting the ribbon (left to right): Klaus Falkner, Johann Obermoser, Michael Doppelmayr and Jakob Falkner, © J. Neje

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