The new cable car in the Bavarian Alps, which will replace an old one that was widely considered a technical masterpiece and had been in use for nearly 54 years, is going to break three world records.
No other cable car on the planet spans further than the 3,213 metres from the base to the mountain top station. No other pendular cable car has a 127 metre-high steel stay or can carry up to 600 people an hour, either.
Construction work is a few weeks behind schedule due to weather conditions. But as planned, “the cable car will run on December 21st," said plant manager Martin Hurm.
A few days ago, the last of the four suspension ropes for the two cabins at the top station was pulled in and secured. “That was an exciting moment," said Harald Raich, chief fitter of Swiss cable car company Garaventa.
With the help of the old cable car’s suspension ropes, in the previous days the new suspension ropes had been pulled up to the top at 200 metres per hour. Aside from some interior work, the station at the bottom of the mountain is finished.
About 100 people are working hard to get have the cable car operating on time. The construction site at the top station is particularly busy; with snow and at temperatures around freezing, workers have been wearing thick clothing, some of them secured with ropes at dizzying heights.
The tallest crane in Germany has also been in place at the peak to help provide workers with supplies.
Workers at the construction site at the top of Zugspitze. Photo: DPA.
Nowhere yet to be seen on site though are the new gondolas for the cable car, which are meant to be made up mainly of glass and characterized by transparency. Hidden and wrapped with a protective cover at the bottom station, security personnel guard them at night.
Around 550,000 visitors make their way up to Zugspitze each year. But after the new cable car is introduced, building operator Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG hope to see 600,000 guests visit each year. The new cable car cost around €50 million to build.
But not everyone is happy about the potential rise in Zugspitze’s visitor numbers.
Toni Zwinger, future landlord of the Munich mountain hut operated by the Deutscher Alpenverein (German Alpine Association) at the top of the mountain, does not doubt the necessity of the new cable car. Though he wonders how the region, which is dominated by tourism, will be able to deal with even more people.
For Zwinger, potential problems could arise in the valley, where he states traffic jams between Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen are already an issue.
“The two tunnels to relieve traffic congestion in the two cities are far from being completed," said the 31-year-old.