Back in September, I wrote about three new 3S gondolas under construction in Vietnam, Switzerland and Austria. As reader Michael E. let me know, there are at least four other 3S systems in the pipeline by both Leitner and Doppelmayr that will bring the total number to over twenty. Below is a look at the systems I missed in my last post, all of which happen to be in the same three countries.
Fansipan Cable Car – Sa Pa, Vietnam
The Fansipan Cable Car is another partnership between Doppelmayr and the Sun Group, which will operate at least five unique ropeways in Vietnam by 2017. Fansipan is the tallest peak in Southeast Asia at 10,312 feet and the cable car, which has been under construction for the last three years, goes just shy of the summit. It will slash a two-day trek up the mountain to 15 minutes. The gondola departs from the town of Sa Pa at 7,000 feet and travels over four towers and 20,063 feet of rugged mountainside. It will be the world’s longest tri-cable gondola when it opens early next year. Doppelmayr designed the system with an hourly capacity of 2,000 at a line speed of 8 m/s and with CWA Taris 35-passenger cabins.
Eisgratbahn I+II – Stubaier Gletscher, Austria
The Eisgratbahn will be a two-section 3S replacing an existing gondola to Stubaier Gletscher. Work on the terminal buildings began last summer and ropeway systems will follow this coming summer with commissioning scheduled for October 2016. This will be Leitner’s second 3S system and it will feature 49 Sigma Symphony cabins for 32 passengers each. Total vertical rise will be just shy of 4,000 feet with a capacity of 3,014 per hour.
Flachau-Zauchensee 3S – Flachau, Austria
Following connections made by the Peak 2 Peak and Kitzbuhel’s 3S Bahn, this two-stage 3S will link the ski areas of Flachau and Zauchensee. It will stretch 22,965 feet with an angle station and will take the longest 3S title if it opens before the Hon Thom 3S. This will be Doppelmayr’s 13th 3S and will use 28-passenger CWA cabins.
Eiger Express – Jungfrau, Switzerland
The Eiger Express would connect the famous town of Grindelwald with the Eiger Glacier. It appears there is significant public opposition to this project judging by the Eiger Express No! website. The plan is a 21,000 foot gondola rising just over 3,000 feet. It would have seven towers and if equipped with 44 28-passenger cabins, would move 2,400 passengers per hour.
At the current rate, the 20th 3S gondola will open in 2018 or 2019. In case you’ve lost track, below is a list of all the “big gondolas” I know about. There is still hope for another 3S in North America, the Burnaby Mountain Gondola is one proposal.