Aerial lift

Plateau Rosa aerial tramway, in Cervinia, Italy, moves 120 people at a time to a 3,480 m (11,420 ft) glacier.
8-passenger gondola lift in Panticosa Ski Resort, Spain.

An aerial lift (US), also known as a cable car (UK, Europe), is a means of cable transport in which cabins, cars, gondolas or open chairs are hauled above the ground by means of one or more cables. Aerial lift systems are frequently employed in mountainous territory where roads are relatively difficult to build and use, and have seen extensive use in mining. Aerial lift systems are relatively easy to move, and have been used to cross rivers and ravines. In more recent times, the cost-effectiveness and flexibility of aerial lifts has seen an increase of gondola lift being integrated into urban public transport systems.


Aerial tramwayEdit

Aerial tramway in Engadine, Switzerland, suspended on two support cables with an additional haul rope.
Aerial tramway to the Aiguille du Midi, France, suspended on one support cable with an additional haul rope.
Video of an aerial tramway going downhill at Mount Tsukuba in Ibaraki, Japan.

A cable car (British English) or an aerial tramway, aerial tram (U.S. English), uses one or two stationary ropes for support while a separate moving rope provides propulsion.[1] The grip of an aerial tramway is permanently fixed onto the propulsion rope. Aerial trams used for urban transport include the Roosevelt Island Tramway (New York) and Portland Aerial Tram.

Gondola liftEdit

A gondola lift in Tignes, France.

A gondola lift consists of a continuously circulating cable that is strung between two or more stations, over intermediate supporting towers. The cable is driven by a bullwheel in a terminal, which is connected to an engine or electric motor.[2] Multiple gondola cabins are attached to the cable, usually with detachable grips, enabling them to slow down in the stations to facilitate safe boarding. Fixed grip variants exist, although these are considerably less common. Lifts with a single cable are sometimes referred to as "monocable" gondola lifts. Depending on the design of the individual lift, the capacity, cost and functionality of a gondola lift will differ dramatically. Because of the proliferation of such systems in the Alpine regions of Europe, the French language name of Télécabine is also used in an English language context. Gondola lifts are also used for urban transportation. Examples include the Singapore Cable Car, Metrocable (Medellín), Metrocable (Caracas), Mi Teleférico (La Paz), and Emirates Air Line (London).

Bicable and tricable gondola liftsEdit

The Ngong Ping 360 bicable gondola lift in Hong Kong, built by Leitner.
A tricable gondola lift at the Stubaier Gletscher, Austria.

Gondola lifts which feature one stationary 'support' rope, and one haul rope are known as bicable gondola lifts, while lifts that feature two support ropes and one haul rope are known as tricable gondola lifts. Examples include Ngong Ping Skyrail (Hong Kong) and the Peak 2 Peak Gondola (Canada).


Squaw Valley Funitel

A funitel differs from a standard gondola through the use of two overhead arms, attached to two parallel haul cables, providing more stability in high winds.[3] The name funitel is a blend of the French words funiculaire and telepherique. Systems may sometimes be referred to as "double monocable" (DMC), where two separate haul cables are used, or "double loop monocable" (DLM) where a single haul cable is looped round twice.

Because skis or snowboard have to be taken off and held during the trip, and because of the (usual) absence of seats, funitels can sometimes be uncomfortable for long trips, in the same way other large gondolas can be. Funitels combine a short time between successive cabins with a high capacity (20 to 30 people)[4] per cabin.


The Arabba Porta Vescovo Funifor

A Funifor is a type of cable car with two guide ropes and a haul rope loop per cabin. The Funifor design is patented by Doppelmayr Garaventa Group.[5] Two reversible cabins run on parallel tracks. The drives of the two cabins are not interconnected. At the top of each track, the haul rope for that track loops back to the bottom instead of looping over to serve the other track as occurs with a normal aerial tramway. This feature allows for single cabin operation when traffic warrants. The independent drive also allows for evacuations to occur by means of a bridge connected between the two adjacent cabins. [6] The main advantage of the Funifor system is its stability in high wind conditions owing to the horizontal distance between the two guide ropes comprising each track.[5]


Fixed grip chairlift at Stresa, Italy.
A detachable chairlift with a bubble, in Bad Hofgastein, Austria.

Chairlifts are continuously circulating systems carrying chairs, which usually enable skiers to board without removing skis. They are a common type of lift at most ski areas and in mountainous areas. They can also be found at some amusement parks and tourist attractions.

Detachable chairlifts usually move far faster than fixed-grip chairlifts, typically 5 m/s (16.4 ft/s) compared with 2 to 2.5 m/s (6.6 to 8.2 ft/s). Because the cable moves faster than most passengers could safely disembark and load, each chair is connected to the cable by a powerful spring-loaded cable grip which detaches at terminals, allowing the chair to slow considerably for convenient loading and unloading at a typical speed of 0.75 m/s (2.5 ft/s), a speed slower even than fixed-grip. Chairs may be fitted with a "bubble" canopy to offer weather protection.

Hybrid liftEdit

A hybrid lift in Turracher Höhe, Austria.

A hybrid lift is a fusion of a gondola lift and a chair lift. The company Leitner refers to it as telemix[7], while Doppelmayr uses the term combination lift.[8] An example is Ski Arlberg's Weibermahd lift in Vorarlberg (Austria) which alternates between 8-person chairlifts and 10-person gondolas.[9]


A tuin in use in Nepal

In undeveloped areas with rough terrain, simple hand-powered cable-cars may be used for crossing rivers, such as the tuin used in Nepal.[10][11]

Material ropewaysEdit

View along the Forsby-Köping limestone cableway, Sweden

A material ropeway or ropeway conveyor[12] is an aerial lift from which containers for goods rather than passenger cars are suspended. These are usually monocable or bicable gondola lifts.

Material ropeways are typically found around large mining concerns, and can be of considerable length. The COMILOG Cableway, which ran from Moanda in Gabon to Mbinda in the Republic of the Congo, was over 75 km in length. The Norsjö aerial tramway in Sweden had a length of 96 kilometers.


The following abbreviations are frequently used in the industry:[citation needed]

en English fr French de German
ATW Aerial Tramway TPH Téléphérique PB Pendelbahn
MGD Monocable gondola detachable TCD Télécabine débrayable EUB Einseilumlaufbahn
BGD Bicable gondola detachable TPH 2S Téléphérique 2S ZUB Zweiseilumlaufbahn
TGD Tricable gondola detachable TPH 3S Téléphérique 3S 3S 3S-Bahn
MGFP Monocable gondola fixed grip pulsed TCP Télécabine pulsée GUB Einseil-Gruppenumlaufbahn
MGFJ Monocable gondola fixed grip jigback TCV Télécabine à va-et-vient GPB Einseil-Gruppenpendelbahn
BGFP Bicable gondola fixed grip pulsed TPH P Téléphérique pulsé Zweiseil-Gruppenumlaufbahn
CLF Chairlift fixed grip TSF Télésiège à pince fixe SB Sesselbahn fix geklemmt
CLD Chairlift detachable TSD Télésiège débrayable KSB kuppelbare Sesselbahn
CGD Chairlift gondola detachable TSCD
Téléporté débrayable avec sièges et cabines
Kombibahn (Sessel + Gondel)
FT Funitel FUN Funitel Funitel
FUF Funifor FUF Funifor Funifor
RPC Rope conveyor Télécorde Materialseilbahn

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The Gondola Project Archived 2017-05-17 at the Wayback Machine Aerial Technologies, Lesson 5: Aerial Trams - Retrieved on 2010-04-24
  2. ^ Cable Propelled Systems in Urban Environments Archived 2012-03-14 at the Wayback Machine Edward S. Neumann - Retrieved on 2010-08-05
  3. ^ "funitel « The Gondola Project". Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  4. ^ Lift-World :: Lift-Database - Funitels Archived 2012-02-10 at the Wayback Machine[dead link]
  5. ^ a b "Funifor". Doppelmayr Garaventa Group. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  6. ^ "Doppelmayr: A convenient trip to the Portavescovo with the Funifor". (SEC - Software Engineering Center, Wanker & Viehauser OEG). 2006-08-11. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-01-13.
  7. ^ "Telemix - Products - LEITNER ropeways". (in German). Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  8. ^ "Combination Lift | Products". Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  9. ^ "8/10-CGD Weibermahd". Doppelmayr Seilbahnen GmbH.
  10. ^ "Tuin river crossings". Practical Action. Archived from the original on 2019-04-11. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  11. ^ "Aerial Ropeways in Nepal". Appropedia. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  12. ^ Ernst, Dr.-Ing. Richard (1989). Wörterbuch der Industriellen Technik (5th ed.). Wiesbaden: Oscar Brandstetter, 1989, p. 659. ISBN 3-87097-145-2.