Cologne Cable Car

In view of the location of the Bundesgartenschau in 1957 on the right bank of the Rhine, it seemed desirable to create another fixed connection across the Rhine in addition to the Hohenzollern Bridge to provide access to the garden site from the north. At the same time, this would connect the inner green belt, zoo and flora to the Rheinpark via an urban structure.

This was not devised as a permanent solution but was expected to be in use for just five years. In this period, the estimated total cost of € 1.1 million marks would have been paid off (and then a further decision could be made..).

The construction work was completed at the end of March 1957. Shortly before opening the garden show, on 17th April 1957, the cable car was officially commissioned by the Lord Mayor Theo Burauen and the Zoo Director Wilhelm Windecker.

The Rhine Cable Car was a real attraction of the Bundesgartenschau 1957. The sponsor of the Garden Show, Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, did not miss the opportunity to ride across the river in a garland-bedecked gondola cabin for the opening ceremony together with his son Max, Lord Mayor Burauen and the Chairman of the Management Committee of the Fresdorf Garden Show . The total number of passengers transported during the exhibition was 1,350,000. The return ticket cost 1.70 marks. Each of the 50 cabins could carry four people. Since the Rhine Cable Car was a bicable gondola system, the frequency of the cabins could be adjusted to suit the flow of passengers. In full operation, one cabin left the stations every twelve seconds, which meant that at a tensile speed of 2.8 meters per second, approximately 30 cabins were travelling at the same time at a distance of about 34 meters apart.

This enabled it to transport up to 2,400 persons every hour in both directions, with views of the Rheinpark, the silhouette of the Old Town and the cathedral, as well as over Deutz and Mülheim to the Bergisches Land region beyond. Cologne’s cable car was thus the most efficient passenger gondola in the world.

The idea had been to fully dismantle the cable car by 30th September 1963 as far as the pylon on the left bank of the Rhine and the zoo station, as the installation of the steel bridge elements of the zoo bridge was due to start in October.

At the beginning of 1966, the Minister of Economics, Small Business and Transport gave the project the green light and granted the cable car a construction and operating permit that extended to the end of 1980. The pylon on the left-hand bank of the Rhine, north of the bridge ramp, was rotated slightly, while the X-shaped "Christophorus" on the right-hand bank of the Rhine and to the south of the bridge ramp was shifted further to the southeast, and a third, significantly slimmer Y-shaped intermediate pylon was built next to the bridge.

On 22nd August 1966, the modernised cable car, which was extended by 250 meters to 935 meters, resumed operation with many of Cologne’s prominent personalities in the front gondola. Once again, the event was celebrated in the evening with fireworks over the Rhine.

For the biennial horticultural show known as BUGA, a pchairlift was also run through the Rheinpark

For the Bundesgartenschau in 1971, the Rheinseilbahn was merely used as a connection between the show grounds either side of the river. The new - and no longer as sensational - cable car was used in particular to enjoy the journey over the river and to drink in the distant views. The Rheinseilbahn transported about 610,000 passengers.

It was initially renamed the Kölner Seilbahn (Cologne Cable Car), in order to lend it a greater association in the minds of foreign visitors with the city of Cologne. Then the cable car got a facelift, namely yellow (for light and sun) and blue (for sky and water), with a white and grey background. As a "Corporate Design", this colourway is also used for all design features connected with the cable car.

Furthermore, it was necessary to appeal to new customer groups. For example, special trips for weddings, birthday parties and other celebrations could be booked on request. Television cameras also sometimes use a trip across the Rhine to record interviews, weather forecasts and the like. The route also served a healing purpose, as psychologists could take their patients there as part of a therapy to combat their fear of heights.

The Cologne cable car ceased operation in 2018

In 2018, the Cologne cable car ceased operation. On 30th July 2017, the cable car was stopped for safety reasons after a service part got tangled up with a gondola cabin. A safety inspection was carried out, and completed at the end of June.

In addition, discussions are currently being conducted with the supervisory authority regarding re-commissioning. As part of this process, a revision of the safety guidelines was considered necessary. One particular focus is on the question of how safely and quickly passengers can be rescued and returned to either bank of the Rhine in an emergency if large numbers of people are attending sport and folk festivals there, and safety routes are blocked by vehicles. The revision of the guidelines is being carried out with all parties, but requires plenty of time due to the number of details to be clarified. It is therefore no longer feasible to run the Cologne cable car this season.

 

Source: https://www.koelner-seilbahn.de/ (retrieved on: 21.09.2018)

 

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