The FlemXpress a railway innovation in Flims ski resort
Ski Resorts News
The Swiss ski resort of Flims Laax Falera will be home to the first on-demand gondola in the world. The new FlemXpress gondola will go from Flims via Foppa and Startgels to Segnes, where it splits off to the Fil de Cassons to one side and the Nagens Sura on the other side. Currently Foppa and Startgels are not connected by lift and you can only reach Startgels on skis or snowboard. This new revolutionary gondola system connects the resort all the way to the Cassons ridge which is the gateway to the UNESCO heritage listed Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona.
FlemXpressInnovation & Technology
The gondola lift is operated in a fully automatic and demand-driven way. The Ropetaxi technology which makes this possible was specially developed for this project by the Weisse Arena Group and the company Bartholet Maschinenbau AG. Like with any gondola lift, the gondolas move on a cable throughout the journey. However, in the station, the cabins move autonomously on rails by way of their own drive system. If any gondolas are unoccupied, they will not be on the line. This innovative technology allows guests to comfortably board the stationary cabin with their luggage or sports equipment and thus makes the gondolas accessible to all.
Thanks to the novel system used in the FlemXpress, the gondolas travel in the stations at a speed of 1 m/s by way of their own eMotion vehicle drive system. This enables autonomous travel. What supplies the energy for this self-propelled system? Kinetic energy is converted into electric energy as the gondola decelerates when entering the station and accelerates when exiting. This energy is ultimately used to operate the gondolas in the station. Additionally, all gondolas are equipped with two batteries that guarantee the completion of each journey.
There will be 120 cabins with 10 seats each, totalling a peak capacity of 1,000 passengers an hour. The on-demand technology however ensures that peak capacity will only be utilized when used. The Flims Laax Falera ski area is open year round and offers hiking and mountain biking in summer, but it is estimated that over the 365 days of the year, 90% of gondola trips are empty gondolas. The new technology will ensure that this number is cut down significantly, resulting in energy savings of 50%. Less empty runs also means less wear and tear on cabins and cables, resulting in less maintenance and repairs.
All 120 cabins are equipped with two phone charging stations and a ventilation system, so that the windowpanes do not mist up. At night, gondolas will have discreet outdoor lighting in order to allow guests to view the Flims mountain landscapes unobstructed.
The new Ropetaxi gondola system from Bartholet Maschinenbau AG in Flums enables the cabins to autonomously travel in the station. Despite the absence of tyre conveyors in the stations, the level of safety is the same as in conventional gondola lifts. This also guarantees quieter travel, less maintenance work and a reduced need for wear parts. Separate infrastructure for cabin storage is also no longer needed. The gondolas park in a line in the stations. This eliminates a time and cost factor, namely the daily garaging process. As with conventional gondola lifts, the gondolas move on a cable. Another advantage of the Ropetaxi system is the fact that it is operational throughout the year. FlemXpress is ready for action in spring, summer, autumn and winter. This is possible because the new gondola system is operated on demand. The gondolas are only in motion when there are guests to be transported. As a result, unnecessary energy use is a thing of the past.
- New gondola lift with 6 stations for entry and exit. - Passenger capacity per gondola: 10 people/ seats - Passenger capacity per gondola incl. bikes: 5 persons/ bikes - Transport capacity per hour: up to 1,800 people - Direct lift access to the Tectonic Arena Sardona UNESCO World Heritage Site - World novelty “Ropetaxi” system - Up to 50% less energy consumption expected
The construction of the lift will take place in two stages: By the end of 2023, the two sections Flims–Foppa and Foppa–Startgels will be completed and put into operation. The existing Flims–Foppa and Foppa–Naraus chairlifts will be dismantled in 2023. By 2024, the three sections Startgels–Segnes, Segnes–Nagens Sura and Segnes–Cassons will be completed. In addition, the Startgels–Grauberg aerial tramway will be dismantled. The complete opening of the FlemXpress will follow in winter 2024/25..
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