The world’s first Funitel ropeway, the Funitel de Péclet, made its debut in the Swiss resort of Val Thorens in 1991. Based on a wide-gage double-monocable configuration developed by the French engineer Denis Creissels in the 1980s, the Funitel system has since been chosen for a number of installations requiring high transport capacities in combination with maximum availability in locations prone to strong side winds.
The gondolas – now more than twenty years old – were designed to carry thirty standing passengers, and the level of comfort was no longer in keeping with passenger expectations for such a prestigious winter resort as Val Thorens. The operating company therefore decided to take advantage of its fortieth anniversary to equip the Funitel de Péclet with new and more modern gondolas and awarded the contract to Gangloff Cabins.
The main enhancement in terms of comfort was the provision of seating for the passengers. In view of the need to keep the gondolas the same size on plan, carrier capacity was reduced from thirty passengers standing to nineteen seated plus three standing. Since a reduction in transport capacity was unacceptable to the operating company, the number of carriers had to be increased from 29 to 38.
Following testing of a prototype cabin for seated passenger transportation in the previous season, Gangloff developed the final version of the new cabin in record time. With the final design approved in the spring of 2012, the 38 gondolas were built and delivered to Val Thorens to schedule by mid-October. Cabin installation was handled by the operating company itself and the final result inspected by the French supervisory authority, so that the Funitel de Péclet was ready to resume public services on 20 November as planned.
Of the nineteen seats, seventeen have exquisite leather upholstery, while the remaining two are wall seats. The verdict of the skiers in Val Thorens is highly positive, with full marks awarded for comfort.
In the last few years, Gangloff has concentrated mainly on big cars and cabins for funiculars and reversibles, but the Val Thorens contract shows that the company is still an expert in the field of series production of gondolas for monocable installations and has the skills and resources to handle such orders on a tight timeline.