We now know what the world’s largest tramway cabins look like. One bright yellow and the other red, CWA’s largest Kronos cabins built to date will hold 230 passengers plus one operator each with six sets of doors on two levels. They will soon be hung on the Ha Long Queen cable car, whose track cables already stretch 5,000 feet across Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay at heights up to 617 feet. The Queen will supplant the 200-passenger Vanoise Express as the world’s highest capacity aerial tram when it opens early this summer.
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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.
It used to be when you boarded the gondola to Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho, a huge sign proclaimed, “Welcome to the World’s Longest Gondola.” At 16,350 feet, the Silver Mountain Gondola held that title from its opening in 1990 until May 2009. That’s when Doppelmayr completed the Ba Na Cable Car in the mountains of Vietnam. A hundred and fifty feet longer than Silver’s gondola and a thousand feet taller, it broke world records for both length and vertical rise.
Fast forward a couple years and Leitner has crushed the ropeway length record again with a gondola in Turkey that opened in 2014. Like the Silver Mountain Gondola, the Bursa-Uludag Gondola connects a city with a ski resort but this one is split into in three sections. It starts in Bursa (Turkey’s fourth largest city) at only 1,300 feet above sea level and tops out at the Uludag resort town and national park at 6,000 feet. The combined system is just under 29,000 feet long with a vertical rise of 4,600 feet. It has 139 Sigma Diamond cabins and 44 towers. The entire system takes only 22 minutes to ride at 6 m/s, replacing a 35-kilometer drive on a mountain road that took over an hour.
As if the Ba Na Cable Car and Bursa-Uludag Gondola aren’t cool enough, there’s also a 26,000 foot 3S gondola under construction in Vietnam that will relegate Silver Mountain’s gondola to the world’s fourth longest.