Germany’s highest mountain has a new cable car. After three years of planning and construction, the Zugspitzbahn transported its first visitors on 21 December 2017. The project was not only unique in terms of construction and ropeway technology, but also in project size and complexity. Constructing at almost 3,000 m posed quite formidable challenges in battling against weather and logistics.
The new cable car route creates significant improvements for visitors. Waiting times on peak days will be a thing of the past, as up to 580 people per hour can be transported.
The new cable car can boast three superlatives: with a height of 127 m, it has the world’s highest steel support for aerial tramways, at 1945 m it serves the world’s largest valley height difference in a section and at 3,213 m the world’s longest free span.
While the design of the new base station was comparatively unspectacular, the construction of the steel structure and the base station was a struggle with wind, weather, altitude and logistics. For the tower support, 1100 individual hot dip galvanized steel components with a total weight of 420 tonnes were bolted together by experienced mountain climbers.
In order to give the Zugspitze visitors the best possible view of the alpine mountains, the base station projects 35 m from the mountainside and was designed as a transparent steel-glass structure with the inclusion of more than 1000 tonnes of galvanized steel.
Permanently hot dip galvanized
Hot dip galvanizing is the standard corrosion protection for cable car construction. The use of hot dip galvanizing achieves a lasting and sustainable corrosion protection coating.
Unlike coatings that are extremely sensitive to UV exposure of alpine environments, hot dip galvanizing is completely UV-resistant and able to deal with severe drops in temperature. The long term protection afforded by hot dip galvanizing offers maximum safety and ensures that during the entire service life of the cable car no corrosion-related repair work is required, which would be extremely difficult and costintensive.