It floats along at lofty heights and brings you comfortably and quickly to the summit - the cable car. From the Carinthian Nockberge to the Rocky Mountains, cable cars are considered by far the safest means of transport worldwide. This is mainly due to the strict regulations and the extensive safety measures taken by the cable car companies.
But how is this highly complex technology inspected? What all has to be taken into account? And how do the gondolas get up the mountain in the first place? Join us behind the scenes at the Bad Kleinkirchheimer Bergbahnen as we perform the summer revision work of our cable cars.
What do we mean by revision work?
The term 'revision' simply means ‘inspection’. When it comes to cable cars, this inspection encompasses the technical audit of the cable car and lift systems as well as the path of the cable car and all station areas. This inspection is required by law for all cable car companies. In addition to daily, weekly, monthly and annual inspections, the installations must also be thoroughly checked by external experts (TÜV) every five years. This is comparable to your car's MOT (§57a), but much more time-consuming.
Trust is good, control is better.
During the inspection work of the Bad Kleinkirchheim Bergbahnen, a total of 24 cable cars and lifts are put under the microscope. Twice a year, after the end of the season, our team checks the Kaiserburgbahn and Biosphärenparkbahn Brunnach cable cars. The winter-only lifts – the Nockalmbahn, all chairlifts and surface lifts are inspected during the summer months.
Now what is happening during the inspection?
An important part of the extensive to-do list is the inspection of the suspension ropes. In order to detect possible cracks and damage at an early stage, the cables, which are up to 54 millimetres thick, are x-rayed.
Large roller batteries keep the rope circulating and thus transport the individual cabins up or downhill. In order to inspect these rollers and replace them if necessary, our employees travel to the support with a special inspection basket, where they can lift the rope from the sheave battery with a chain hoist. In some cases, a crane is also used for this purpose, as was the case in May 2022 with the Biosphärenparkbahn Brunnach.
During this year's summer inspection, around 11.4 kilometres of cables, 44 supports and 790 rollers were inspected on the two cabin cable cars alone.
Quite elaborate, isn't it?
Insider Fact: Depending on the operating hours, weather conditions and load, the rubber coating of the rollers wears to varying degrees. In spite of a reduced load in summer, we notice greater wear during that time. It seem that the summer temperatures in Carinthia take their toll on the equipment.
The inspection of our cable car installations also entails a series of technical maintenance tasks for the mechanics and electronics. Gearboxes, brakes, support towers and various fire safety devices are checked, readjusted or replaced.
Finally, all cabins and chairs, as well as the infrastructure at the valley and mountain stations, get a thorough facelift. Trees and bushes located in the cable car's circulation area also receive a summer trim. After all, we want to welcome you at the start of the new season in proper condition and full glory.
A good head for heights is particularly important when inspecting our systems, as our employees work at heights of up to 30 metres. Naturally, the necessary safety equipment such as harnesses and helmets are a must.
As a cable car company, we shoulder a lot of responsibility. In order to guarantee you the highest possible level of safety when using our facilities, we carry out a comprehensive rescue exercise at the same time as the annual inspection of all rescue teams involved. This all pays off, because for 66 years the Bad Kleinkirchheimer Bergbahnen has been operating successfully without incident.
By the way: In addition to the revision work of the cable cars, our team is busy in summer inspecting the vehicle fleet and the snow-making system. Keep checking our blog, as we will sharing more stories and information with you soon.