Material ropeway

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Material ropeway in Zillergrund, Tyrol.

A goods lift , also transport cable car or goods cable car called, is a cable car which is normally only for the transport of goods, such as ore or food allowed.


One of the oldest material ropeways was the one built by the Dutchman Adam Wybe in 1644 for the construction of a bastion near Gdansk . The cable car was designed as a monocable , the material was transported in buckets. It was probably driven by a gopel , and a hemp rope was used as the rope . More efficient systems were only possible after the invention of the wire rope in 1834. Adam Wybe's system was patented by the Englishman Charles Hodgson in 1868 and later also referred to as the English system . It was widespread in the USA and especially in the mines of Colorado .

The Bergrat Freiherr Franz Fritz von Dücker described the bicable gondola for the first time in 1861 . It consists of a suspension rope on which the conveyors run on rollers and a pull rope that moves the conveyors. In the end stations, the carts are separated from the pull rope for filling and emptying, which requires a device with which the carts could be clamped to the pull rope during operation. These types of railways were built in Germany by Adolf Bleichert and Julius Pohlig . The two cable cars were accordingly also called the German System , Bleichertsche or Ottosche Seilbahnen , whereby Theodor Otto was an engineer who first worked with Bleichert in the  engineering office for cable cars in Schkeuditz , but then separated from Bleichert in 1876 and worked with Pohlig.

The Pohlig railways first used a so-called vice coupling apparatus. The connection of the trolleys to the pull rope was made by a clamp with a thread. The thread was closed by hand and opened by a stop when entering the end station. A weight lever coupling was later used, in which the screw clamps were operated with a weight lever that was knocked over by guide rails in the departure and destination stations in order to close and open the clamp.

Pictures (chronological)


Material ropeways are being built:

  • for the temporary transport of building materials → construction cableway
  • for temporary transport for military purposes: During the mountain war of 1915–1918 , remote positions were supplied with material ropeways. When the German Wehrmacht withdrew from the Kuban bridgehead in 1943 , some of the material is said to have been transported by cable car over the Kerch Strait , which is around four kilometers wide at its narrowest point .
  • for the transport of bulk goods → Lorenseilbahn
  • for transporting hay or wood → ropeways and wooden ropeways
  • for dropping explosive charges for avalanche protection → avalanche blasting track
  • for supply in the mountains: permanently erected to supply remote mountain farms or shelters . Material ropeways are often the only access to high-altitude farms and alpine pastures if the construction of an access road or an access road would be too costly. In these cases, a material ropeway can also be used to transport people for a limited group of users (residents).


Construction cableway

Material ropeway for cement during the construction of the Grande Dixence dam . Two parallel ropeways carried cement buckets that were delivered on special railroad cars.

Construction ropeways are temporary material ropeways that are temporarily erected in order to supply construction sites with building materials ( e.g. vehicles, systems, gravel, cement) or to remove construction rubble and the like. A construction cableway for bulk material only (sand, gravel, cement, ...) can be designed in the form of a Lorenseilbahn.

Construction ropeways are used v. a. in inaccessible terrain (high mountains, ...) for example when building cable cars , railways , transmitter masts, mountain huts, etc. a. Also dikes at the Dutch Delta Plan project built by using cable cars, with the stones from the cable cars poured into the sea and so the dams were heaped.

The "Linthal 2015" construction project of the Linth-Limmern power plants is currently the largest Swiss construction project in the energy sector, with the largest hydropower plant in Switzerland being built. For this purpose, two construction cableways were built, which can carry a material load of up to 30 tons, in exceptional cases up to 40 tons per hanger .


Protective construction at a street crossing of the Grundlsee material cable car

Lorenseilbahnen are primarily used to transport bulk goods (raw materials such as ore or coal ) that are mined at a storage site to a distant loading or processing facility. They can be used to cover considerable distances (up to 96 km, see examples ) over rough and difficult terrain. They avoid the use of road transport vehicles or, in some cases, reduce high investments for the construction of rail-bound transport routes. A special feature of Lorenseilbahnen are the protective bridges over other traffic routes. They are designed to prevent tipping or falling carts from causing major damage. Most material ropeways were built in the first half of the 20th century in countries that did not yet have adequate transport routes.

Cable ways and wooden cable car

Mobile cable car station for removing felled trees. The mast is guyed to trees in the area.

Ropeways are mainly used to bring hay into steep terrain and are operated by hand. The same for wood applies to wooden ropeways .

Avalanche blasting track

Another application for material ropeways is avalanche detonation ropeways , with which explosive charges are transported to the desired location to artificially trigger avalanches .


Material ropeways are mostly driven by a gasoline engine , diesel engine or electric motor . Larger material ropeways are usually designed as two- cable circulating ropeways, with a support cable for each direction and a circulating pull cable that moves the carts. Many small railways consist of a single suspension rope on which the load is attached to a pulley. The pulley is either pulled or lowered from above with an auxiliary rope, or deflected at the top and pulled up from below with an auxiliary rope. The auxiliary rope is wound on a special steel rope drum that is rotated by the motor.

There are (especially in the case of wooden ropeways that are only temporarily installed) radio-controlled trolleys driven by an internal combustion engine, the drive rollers of which are firmly pressed against the suspension rope and have a winch for lifting and lowering the load.

Air traffic hazard

Due to the topography, there are thousands of material ropeways in mountain regions. These runways pose a major risk to aircraft, especially helicopters and hang gliders.

Many of these ropes are not shown on any hazard map and therefore increase the risk of collision.

Warning signs for aircraft pilots on an exposed material cable car (in the picture the train from the Rofental to the Würzburg house )

In Switzerland , the Swiss Air Force has been offering free dismantling of material ropeways that are no longer required in order to reduce the risk for civil and military aircraft.



  • The 450 m long cable car in Bratislava transports cars to the entry route at the VW plant in Bratislava.
  • The Feldmoos – Chli Titlis material ropeway served from 1979 to 1986 to supply a construction site 1,429.9 m higher. It had a carrying cable and a pulling cable each to move a single vehicle with a total weight of up to 3.8 t over a total length of 4675 m. The longest span ever realized of 3467.1 m was crossed.
  • The two 17 km long Savona – San Giuseppe cable cars in Italy have been in operation since 1912 and 1937 respectively. You can transport up to 420 tons of material per hour (mostly coal) from the port in Savona to the hinterland. The facility is currently the longest operating cable car.
  • The 42 km long Kalklinbanan transported limestone in Sweden from 1941 to 1997 and was the longest cable car in the world for two years.
  • The 96 km long Linbanan Boliden – Kristineberg in Sweden , operated from 1943 to 1987, was used to transport ore (copper, lead, zinc, silver and gold ores) and was the longest cable car in the world.



  • The 35 km long Chilecito-La Mejicana material ropeway in Argentina was used from 1905 to transport ore from the Sierra de Famatina at an altitude of over 4600 m and was the longest cable car in the world at its time and until the construction of the Aucanquilcha line in 1938 the cable car with the highest mountain station. It overcame an altitude difference of 3528 m, which has not been exceeded until today.
  • The material ropeway for the removal of sulfur from the Aucanquilcha in Chile, which was put into operation in 1938, was the highest ropeway ever operated with its valley station at 3942 m and its mountain station at 5874 m.

See also

Web links

Commons : Ropeway conveyors  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Heinrich Aumund : Lifting and conveying systems . tape 1 : General arrangement and use. Springer-Verlag, 1926, ISBN 978-3-642-50697-0 , p. 156–157 ( Google Books [accessed December 28, 2017]).
  2. ^ Deltaplan , accessed December 12, 2011.
  3. Jürg Huber: Rekord-Bahn goes into operation ( Memento of the original from February 22, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. at @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Herculean task on the mountain
  5. After the helicopter crash, the investigation is ongoing , May 11, 2017, accessed May 11, 2017. - Example of an accident with 2 fatalities in Tyrol on May 10, 2017.