The new aerial cable car line that carries visitors to the Zugspitze mountain can claim a clutch of world records. Covering more than 3,200 meters from base support pylon to summit, the Zugspitze cableway traverses a greater single-span distance than any other aerial cable system. It also boasts the world’s tallest steel support pylon (127 meters) and over its total length of 4.5 kilometers, the cable cars overcome a difference of around 2,000 meters in altitude.
To enable it to master these impressive distances, the cable car system has its own medium-voltage power grid that is also fed by a cogeneration station. And two diesel engines from mtu are always at the ready to deal with possible power outages. The 18-cylinder Series 2000 units form the heart of two generators from Hessen-based genset manufacturer POLYMA Energy Systems GmbH that supplied the overall package to the Bavarian Zugspitzbahn company. The generators each deliver 1,250 kVA of electricity and can ramp up to peak performance inside 15 seconds. “If the power were to fail, the cableway would come to a brief stop. But as soon as the mtu engines were running, it would start up again to resume normal service,” explained Matthias Ferchl, Rail Operations Manager responsible for power supply systems at Bavarian Zugspitzbahn. The generators can also operate in parallel with the medium-voltage grid – so that the monthly test run can take place without interrupting operations, for example.
Each cable car can carry 120 passengers with the system transporting up to 580 people an hour. But with scenic superlatives like those available at the Zugspitze, few tourists will be studying the technical details. After leaving the base station, the alpine panorama that unfolds before visitors becomes more majestic with each meter they ascend. And from July, when they reach the summit, tourists will be able to savor the delights of the new Panorama Restaurant that is currently still under construction.