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Detachable eight-person chairlift in Kaprun
Entry / exit, use and maintenance of various detachable chairlifts in St. Gallenkirch and Montafon

The chairlifts belong to the category of circulating cable cars . Hangers with seats for one or more people (currently for a maximum of eight people) are attached to an endless, continuously revolving hoisting rope . The people are secured with a safety bar. Modern systems open and close the bar automatically. Under the chair there is usually a footrest on which passengers can put their skis or their feet. Overseas, especially in the USA , there are also systems without a safety bar.


Firmly clamped chairlifts

Upper pulley of a chairlift

In the simplest and at the same time oldest chairlift design, the technology of which was derived from the ski lift , the cable clamps of the chair suspension are firmly connected to the revolving hoisting cable . The Austrian Cable Car Act 2003 refers to such fixed-grip chairlifts as chairlifts . This fixed-grip chair lifts are in the art or ski area maps as SB for chairlift or as CLF for the English name c hair l ift f ix gripped abbreviated. A leading number indicates the number of people per seat suspension, e.g. B. 2SB, 4-CLF.

The passengers have to get on and off the chairs in the stations at full speed . Many newer fixed-grip chairlifts are equipped with an entry conveyor belt to make entry more comfortable and safer, but also to increase travel speed. With fixed-grip chairlifts, the cable speed is rather moderate (usually between max. 3.0 m / s for single and double chairlifts and up to 2.2 m / s for six- person chairlifts  ). The greater the number of seats in an armchair, the lower the maximum speed of the system, since otherwise excessive centrifugal forces would act on the armchairs when passing the pulley . This is probably the main reason why no fixed-clamp eight-person chairlifts have been built so far.

Detachable chairlifts

A spring clip holds the equipment in a detachable orbit

For passengers are more comfortable detachable chairlifts, usually with KSB or the English abbreviation for CLD c hair l ift d etachable abbreviated. With this type of construction, the chairs are detached from the conveyor rope in the stations and moved onto a conveyor rail, which runs much more slowly. The rope clamps are automatically opened and closed in the station via narrower or widening rail links, into which an actuating lever runs. The passengers can then get on and off at a greatly reduced speed. Detachable systems are usually operated with higher rope speeds of up to 5 m / s. Even higher driving speeds are possible, but not allowed by the authorities in German-speaking countries. In France z. For example, there are systems that can be operated at up to 5.5 m / s, in the USA there are even systems with a maximum rope speed of over 6 m / s. The first detachable chairlift that can be operated at 6 m / s was built in Austria in 2015. Here, too, conveyor belts can be used at the entrance, but in contrast to the fixed runway, they only serve to simplify the positioning of the passengers.


Combined lifts are sometimes also built in which either armchairs or gondolas can be used as driving equipment during the ski season. The skiers decide for themselves whether they want to keep their skis on and the chair or whether they want to use the gondola. Gondolas are mainly used for the safe transport of small children - for example on ski courses - and of hikers, tobogganists, etc.

Transport capacity

Single chairlift in Kufstein, Tyrol

The transport capacity of chairlifts depends on the size of the chair, the speed and the distance between the chairs. The maximum transport capacities (without double embarquement = double entry) are approximately:

  • 1-seat armchair: max. 800 people / hour
  • 2-seater armchair: max. 1440 people / hour
  • 3-seat armchair: max. 2160 people / hour
  • 4-seat armchair: max. 2400 people / hour (detachable high-performance lifts up to 2880 people / hour)
  • 6-seat armchair: max. 4000 people / hour
  • 8-seat armchair: max. 5000 people / hour.

However, the capacity can vary greatly downwards; so there are B. 6-seater chairlifts, which have a higher capacity than some 8-seater chairlifts, because they have significantly shorter distances between chairs.

The transport capacity of fixed-clamp and detachable cable cars is basically about the same. In the case of detachable cable cars, only the conveying speed is higher, but this is compensated by a greater distance between the chairs / cabins and thus leads to an identical number of cabins / chairs per hour (transport capacity). However, it should be noted that detachable chairlifts can achieve slightly higher capacities in practice, as the chairs move at a reduced speed in the station, thus offering increased boarding comfort, especially for beginners and children, and thus the number of emergency stops is drastically reduced.

The detachable four-seater chair is a special case in terms of capacities. Since, with its capacity of up to 2400 p / h (analogous to the fixed 4SB), it was considered the workhorse in most ski areas for years, high-performance lifts were developed analogous to the earlier development of surface lifts Can transport up to 2880 people / hour in order to achieve the same transport capacity with a 4-CLD that two high-performance tractors set up in parallel offer (twice 1440 p / h).

Development of the chair and train

Historically, armchairs were first - like many folding garden chairs to this day - made of transverse wooden slats about 3 cm wide on steel, both of which were painted in color. For particularly long journeys or in strong winds and snowfall, a woven (wool / synthetic fiber) or thin quilt was handed out, in which you could wrap yourself up from chest or waist height and thus sit warmer. Later the steel was galvanized, the seat and backrest made of glass fiber plastic, which was only smooth on the usable side, or made of wood veneer (multilayered, locked) plastic pressed material. These seats were typically broad-headed at 4 points. Non-slip, closed-cell foam seat cushions or mats may have been placed on top and turned away by the lift staff if necessary. The seat could be folded upwards by a good 90 ° in order to protect it and the backrest covered by it, in particular from snow deposits and icing on the top when the vehicle was empty. Armchairs, especially from the valley, did not originally have footrests, but rather a basket or double hook for horizontal storage of skis or hanging up a ski bobsleigh . The pair of skis and poles were bundled together by the skiers with a pair of Schifix (rubber bandages with hooks) or the safety straps and handled with the support of the lift men when getting on and off.

The lifts went correspondingly slowly, the chair had a rope at the front as a fall protection. Later swivel brackets appeared, which had to be turned in front of the body by a good 270 ° around a not quite vertical axis on the front right of the armrest with the right hand. Lift men braked and guided the chair a little to get in, which also lowered the front edge of the seat a little. The entrance was outdoors, the ground was prepared from snow at a suitable height, plastic sliding mats in the snow were only added later. The bracket could be locked in both end positions by lowering it by 5–10 °. The locking mechanism was originally made of steel, but was later integrated under a plastic cap or in a flat aluminum cylinder. With the bracket came the pivoting footrest. Safety brackets followed later, which, together with the footrests, were folded over the seats from above and made wider benches and windshields possible.


Detachable 4-seater chairlift (4CLD) with hoods in Bad Hofgastein

The comfort of modern chairlifts is comparable to that of gondola lifts , but chairlifts can be used with skis buckled (access on skis, time savings, skis do not have to be cleared of snow and do not have to be carried). The systems often have upholstered armchairs and a hood made of plexiglass , which protects the passenger from wind , precipitation and cold. Lanes with heated seats , in which the armchairs in the stations are heated using power rails, are also widespread in many ski areas.

At the entry points of winter sports chairlifts and chairlifts, passenger conveyor belts are often used as boarding aids, on which the passenger stands with their skis or snowboards strapped on and which reduce the relative speed of the approaching chair. The passenger is caught up on the conveyor belt, which has to be provided with a barrier synchronized with the sequence of seats to allow boarding, at a defined point with a lower speed difference from the chair. This facilitated boarding means that railways with fixed armchairs can be driven faster and their conveying capacity increased.

Occasionally there are height-adjustable conveyor belts on slopes where there are many children.

In the case of detachable lanes, the boarding division and the conveyor belt serve to better regulate access.

Historic chairlifts

The Arosa – Hörnli ski lift, built in 1945 by the then AG Autobus und Skiliftanlagen Arosa according to the Hefti / Oehler system, was converted into a combined ski lift and chairlift system three years later. The facility, which remained unique in the world of this kind, had detachable single-seaters and was in operation as a chairlift in summer and winter until it was dismantled in 1963.

Weissenstein chairlift from 1950, in operation until November 1, 2009

Another historic chairlift in Switzerland , the Oberdorf – Weissenstein chairlift , built in 1950 , was also the last Swiss representative of the detachable type VR101 . The facility was decommissioned in 2009 and demolished in autumn 2013, and was replaced by a modern gondola lift. Efforts were made by the Pro Stuhli Association and the Swiss Homeland Security to preserve the old chairlift due to its historical significance.

The chairlift from Kandersteg to Oeschinensee , built in 1948 using the same system, was demolished in autumn 2008 and replaced by a gondola lift .

Another lift , built in 1947, the oldest of its kind, the Gumen chairlift from Braunwald GL , was demolished in the summer of 2007 and replaced by a modern cable car.

The two 1949 went into operation sections of a chairlift system VR101 to Sněžka (Snow Mountain) in the Giant Mountains were shut down in September 2012 and since 2014 by a gondola replaced the type DG4.

In the Czech Eastern Ore Mountains, the last detachable chairlift built under a Swiss license has been in operation at Komáří hůrka (Mückenberg) since 1952 . With its operating length of 2348 m, the cable car was the longest chairlift in Central Europe at the time of construction.

The last system in operation in Germany based on the VR101 system was the Jennerbahn in Schönau am Königssee until the end of operation in March 2017 , although the typical sideways armchairs had been replaced by two-person gondola cabins.

While the type VR101 is almost extinct in Europe, some of these ropeways still exist in North America, as they are particularly popular as amusement park rides, but with gondolas instead of sideways chairs.

Chairlift in an amusement park in Australia
Chairlift in the
Prague Zoo

Chairlifts as panoramic cable cars

Chairlifts have occasionally been built on exhibition grounds or in amusement parks. Examples would be the chairlift in Killesberg park for the German Garden Show 1950 in Stuttgart, one in 1957 for visitors to the International Building Exhibition in Berlin " Interbau built" chair lift or a chairlift to the Vienna International Garden Show in 1964 and built in 1967 Elka cable car in the Silesian Park of Chorzów the longest lowland funicular Europe.

There are also cable cars in London and some other cities.

Common abbreviations

As already mentioned in the introduction, it is often referred to in technical language and in Piste plans fixed-grip chairlifts as "SB" and detachable as "KSB" ( k uppelbare S essel b ahn). The chair size (person capacity) is usually written in front of it, e.g. B. "4SB", "6KSB".

Also are used internationally, the abbreviations "CLF" ( C hair l ift F ix gripped) or "TSF" ( T élé S iège à attaches F ixes) instead of "SB" and "CLD" ( C hair l ift D etachable) or " TSD " ( T élé S iège à attaches D ébrayables) instead of" KSB ".

The presence of bubbles (weather protection hoods) was previously indicated by adding "/ B", e.g. B. "8-CLD / B". The presence of seat heating is indicated by the addition "/ S", e.g. B. "6-CLD / S" is displayed. (Normally only chairlifts with bubbles are equipped with seat heating, therefore analogous to "6-CLD / B / S" or 6-CLD / BS) The increasingly widespread bubbles with orange panes are marked with "/ B / O" or " / BO "abbreviated, e.g. B. "4-CLD / B / O" or "6-CLD / BO".

In the case of combined lifts, which are usually abbreviated as KB, GCD (for gondola chairlift detachable ) or TMX (French for télémix ), the leading number indicates the number of people in the armchairs, the following number that of the gondolas, e.g. B. 6/8 GCD.

Artistic reception

  • René Freund : Am Sessellift - play, 1995. First performance in Vienna 1997.
  • René Freund: Am Sessellift - radio play, 1996, ORF production. Director: Adeline Schebesch. With Heino Fischer as Fred, Maximilian Achatz as Heinz.

Web links

Commons : Chairlift  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Chairlift  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: chairlift  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Federal Law on Cable Cars (Cable Car Law 2003 - SeilbG 2003) .
  2. SkiWelt Brixen is building the fastest chairlift. In: February 24, 2015, accessed October 22, 2017 .
  3. Lecture materials for cable car construction at the Institute for Infrastructure, Intelligent Transport Systems division of the University of Innsbruck, summer semester 2012, p. 133 f. ( Memento of December 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), (PDF file), accessed on November 28, 2015.
  4. Video clip of the combined Arosa – Hörnli cable car system from 1948 .
  5. Kandersteg: The chairlift is history in: Solothurner Tagblatt, September 8, 2008, p. 32.
  6. Construction of the new cable car ( Memento from February 10, 2013 in the web archive )
  7. Cable car in Berlin , accessed on December 12, 2011.
  8. ^ The Vienna Danube Park , accessed on December 12, 2011.
  9. René Freund - Author> Novels, Non-Fiction Books, Theater Plays… Author's website, accessed January 10, 2017.
  10. ORF: Hörspiel-Studio ( Memento of the original from January 10, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. January 10, 2017 9:00 p.m., audible 7 days, accessed January 10, 2017. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /