Aerial Rope Tran­sit (Ca­ble Car) for Pub­lic Trans­port

Dr. Pawan Ku­mar, Town and Coun­try Plan­ning Or­ga­ni­za­tion, New Delhi, Meenal Jy­otika, Dual De­gree M.Tech. (Me­chan­i­cal) Stu­dent, Gau­tam Bud­dha Univer­sity, Greater Noida.

NBM&CW - - CONTENTS - Pawan Ku­mar


Ad­vanced trans­port tech­nolo­gies have im­proved mo­bil­ity of men and ma­te­ri­als in both nor­mal and spe­cific con­di­tions. Numer­ous tran­sit tech­nolo­gies have been de­vel­oped for spe­cific pur­poses to pro­vide safe, quick and ef­fi­cient mo­bil­ity in par­tic­u­lar ge­o­graph­i­cal ar­eas. Aerial Rope Tran­sit (ca­ble car/rope­way) is one such tech­nol­ogy widely used in ar­eas with topo­graph­i­cal bar­ri­ers, par­tic­u­larly in hilly and moun­tain­ous ter­rains. In Garhwal re­gion of Ut­tark­hand, apart from ski re­sorts and tourist des­ti­na­tions, man­ual and hy­draulic ca­ble cars are op­er­a­tional in around 20 lo­ca­tions, and are a life­line for lo­cal res­i­dents in a re­gion where roads are sparse and air/ train net­works are not avail­able (ex­tracted from The Hin­dus­tan Times, dated June 27, 2017). Such a sys­tem may be pro­moted in other hilly re­gions. Ca­ble car trans­port is con­sid­ered one of the safest based on the ra­tio of ac­ci­dents to the num­ber of peo­ple trans­ported per km. The sys­tem of­fers plenty of sec­ondary ben­e­fits, which make it the first op­tion in ur­ban trans­port. How­ever, it is de­sir­able to pro­mote the ca­ble car as a pub­lic trans­port. The Hon’ble Union Min­is­ter for Road Trans­port and High­ways Shri Nitin Gad­kari, for de­clog­ging traf­fic con­ges­tion on roads, has pro­posed ca­ble cars or rope­way trans­port. The ten­der for the first project, be­tween Dhaula Kuan (Delhi) to Mane­sar (Haryana), has al­ready been cleared at an es­ti­mated cost of ₹50 crore, which may come down to ₹35 crore, once it be­comes part of the ‘Made in In­dia’ ini­tia­tive. Sim­i­larly, Con­veyor and Rope­way Ser­vices Pri­vate Lim­ited (CRSPL) has pro­posed to in­tro­duce Curvo, the world’s first non­lin­ear aerial rope­way for the most traf­fic con­gested ar­eas of Kolkata. The rope­way is for sec­ond tier ur­ban com­mu­ta­tion in two sec­tors: Seal­dah to BBD Bagh area and Howrah to the new State Sec­re­tariat at Na­banna.

An­other ex­am­ple is of Dom­bivli east rail­way sta­tion (Thane District, Ma­ha­rash­tra) to Shil Phata junc­tion road or Man­pda road, which has dense traf­fic and is nar­row and con­gested. This ma­jor road is one of the old­est busi­ness mar­ket places and an im­por­tant link to the newly de­vel­oped job des­ti­na­tion of Navi Mum­bai. The an­nual av­er­age daily traf­fic on the project road is more than 15,000 PCUs and there is no space avail­able for ex­pan­sion. Even traf­fic flow can­not be dis­turbed for long. There­fore, se­lec­tion for the most ap­pro­pri­ate mode of trans­port was dif­fi­cult in such a sit­u­a­tion,

where hor­i­zon­tal growth is not an op­tion but only ver­ti­cal growth, where LRT, Rope­way, and Metro-like tran­sits with low right of way (RoW) are fea­si­ble. Rope­ways are an ideal so­lu­tion in sit­u­a­tions like the Man­pada road, and there are many more ca­ble car pro­pos­als for dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try.

Aerial Rope Tran­sit (Ca­ble Car) Sys­tem

Aerial Rope­way Tran­sit (ART) or Ca­ble Car Sys­tem (Rope­way) is known as aerial tram, sky tram, aerial tramway, etc. In In­dia, it is also called Udan Kha­tola, Ga­gan Kha­tola, etc. The ca­ble car is a type of aerial tran­sit to trans­port pas­sen­gers in a cabin which is sus­pended and pulled by ca­bles. It con­sists of one or two fixed ca­bles (i.e. track ca­ble), one loop of ca­ble (i.e. haulage rope), and pas­sen­ger cab­ins. The track ca­bles pro­vide sup­port for the cab­ins while the haulage rope driven by elec­tric mo­tor pro­vides propul­sion (push for­ward/drive for­ward).

Sim­i­larly, ca­ble car ve­hi­cles (i.e. cab­ins/ aerial lifts / chairs cabin, gon­do­las, etc.) pulled by haulage rope and ro­tated by a mo­tor off-board, are mo­tor-less, en­gine­less, brake­less and have no con­trol pan­els. The aerial ca­ble car trans­port sys­tem moves back and forth on a fixed track with one or two ve­hi­cles, whereas, gon­dola cab­ins move along a uni­di­rec­tional loop with de­clutch­ing mech­a­nism that has a de­vice to al­low the gon­dola to be un­cou­pled from the haul rope on ar­rival at the sta­tion, and to be at­tached again to the haul rope on ex­it­ing from the sta­tion. How­ever, ca­ble car ve­hi­cles have dif­fer­ent car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity. In a sim­ple sys­tem, there may be only one ca­ble car ve­hi­cle, whereas, in a com­plex sys­tem, sev­eral ve­hi­cles are placed at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals along the line. The ca­ble car is com­par­a­tively a safer mode of trans­port and pro­vides di­rect con­nec­tion be­tween two points in­spite of phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers and ob­sta­cles. It de­mands low space for tow­ers and sta­tions and is con­sid­ered an en­vi­ron­ment-friendly and cost-ef­fec­tive mode of trans­port. It is be­ing used in many cities such as Las Ve­gas, Oak­land, Coblenz (Ger­many), Is­tan­bul, Rio de Janeiro, Zurich, Sin­ga­pore, Welling­ton (New Zealand), Lon­don, Mau­ri­tius, etc. The se­lec­tion of such a trans­port sys­tem de­pends on cri­te­ria such as to­pog­ra­phy and ter­rains, length (hor­i­zon­tal & ver­ti­cal), ca­pac­ity (both cabin & whole sys­tem), line speed, oper­a­tion sys­tem (uni-di­rec­tional/ bi-di­rec­tional), pur­pose (pas­sen­gers/ tourists/ma­te­ri­als), eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity, oper­a­tion & main­te­nance costs, safety of pas­sen­gers, etc.

Com­po­nents of Aerial Rope Tran­sit (Ca­ble Car)

The sim­plest sys­tem of ca­ble car con­sists of ca­ble(s), ca­ble car ve­hi­cle(s), and sup­port­ing struc­ture(s). Ba­si­cally, it is an in­te­grated me­chan­i­cal sys­tem based on prin­ci­ples of me­chan­ics to carry pas­sen­gers from one el­e­va­tion to an­other el­e­va­tion, par­tic­u­larly in un­du­lat­ing ter­rains. Fig­ure 1 il­lus­trates run­ning sys­tem of de­tach­able bi-ca­ble ca­ble car.

The whole sys­tem has two com­po­nents, broadly: civil works (re­lated to brick/ RCC/steel struc­ture, ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties for pas­sen­gers, etc), and the sec­ond is in­stal­la­tion of plants and ma­chin­ery to pro­vide me­chan­i­cal and elec­tri­cal sup­port in run­ning of ca­ble car ve­hi­cles.

Ta­ble 1 de­scribes var­i­ous com­po­nents of ca­ble car and their func­tions in me­chan­i­cal shift­ing of pas­sen­gers from one lo­ca­tion to other lo­ca­tion.

Ca­ble Car: An In­te­grated Pub­lic Trans­port

The Ca­ble Car as mass tran­sit is used in de­vel­oped coun­tries which need spe­cific tech­nolo­gies for per­for­mance in spe­cific con­di­tions such as ge­o­graph­i­cal con­straint ar­eas to over­come nat­u­ral bar­ri­ers, weather/cli­matic con­di­tions, hilly ter­rains, etc. In fact, such a sys­tem has both ad­van­tages and lim­i­ta­tions but pro­vides ef­fi­cient mo­bil­ity where con­ven­tional pub­lic trans­port may not be op­er­ated.

The Metro-Ca­ble Car Sys­tem of Medellin (Colombia) is an ex­am­ple of in­te­grated mass tran­sit. The city of Medellin is lo­cated in a val­ley and is sur­rounded by hills. The set­tle­ments are nei­ther con­nected by bus nor Metro ser­vices. There­fore, a MetroCable Car sys­tem has been de­vel­oped to pro­vide com­ple­men­tary mode of trans­port to the Medellin Metro.

It is planned as a pub­lic trans­port hav­ing a rid­er­ship of 30,000 pas­sen­gers per day and is prop­erly in­te­grated with Medellin’s mass tran­sit sys­tem. The Metro-ca­ble uses Mono-ca­ble De­tach­able Gon­dola (MDG) tech­nol­ogy. The first gon­dola line (Line K) was opened as a com­ple­men­tary mode of trans­port to Medellin Metro in 2006.

In the In­dian con­text, there is a lot of po­ten­tial to ex­plore use of the Ca­ble Car as mass tran­sit. The Gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, trans­port agen­cies, ca­ble car man­u­fac­tur­ers, etc., should take ini­tia­tives to pro­mote the sys­tem as an al­ter­na­tive mode of trans­port and in­te­grate it with the ex­ist­ing mass tran­sit, par­tic­u­larly in the hilly states.

Safety and Se­cu­rity Is­sues

Ac­ci­dents in the ca­ble car trans­port sys­tem may be due to hu­man er­ror, fail­ure of me­chan­i­cal / elec­tri­cal com­po­nents, lack of main­te­nance of struc­tural sys­tem, un­safe en­vi­ron­ment such as bad weather, vol­canic erup­tion, etc. On June 25, 2017, four tourists and three lo­cal per­sons died when a ca­ble car came crash­ing down from a height of about 30 me­ters in the tourist re­sort of Gul­marg. The tragedy was due to both bad

weather con­di­tions and me­chan­i­cal fail­ure. It was stated that sud­den strong winds up­rooted a pine tree that hit an­other large pine tree, whose branch fell on the ca­ble, de­rail­ing it from the pul­ley. The sys­tem stopped oper­a­tion and the ca­ble de­railed be­tween the fifth and sixth tow­ers, and the cab­ins started swing­ing dan­ger­ously, which caused shat­ter­ing of glass and the pas­sen­gers were thrown out of the cabin. (source: Indo Asian News Ser­vice, Srinagar dated June 26, 2017). Ta­ble 2 de­scribes prob­a­ble causes of ac­ci­dents of ca­ble cars and their fre­quency in per­cent­age.

Ta­ble 2 in­di­cates that most ac­ci­dents in ca­ble cars are due to me­chan­i­cal fail­ure such as slip of ca­ble, fall/mal­func­tion­ing of cabin, snapped rope wire, power sys­tem fail­ure, col­li­sions, etc., and there­fore, com­plete tech­ni­cal and stan­dard of pro­ce­dures should be fol­lowed in their oper­a­tion and main­te­nance.

Dis­cus­sion and Con­clud­ing Re­marks

• The Ca­ble Car trans­port sys­tem needs to en­sure pas­sen­ger safety as an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion. Me­chan­i­cal fail­ures and dam­ages in bad weather put pas­sen­ger safety at risk. There­fore, con­struc­tion (RCC struc­tures, steel struc­tures, struc­tural joints, etc.), oper­a­tion and main­te­nance of the ca­ble car should fol­low all the safety pro­vi­sions and pa­ram­e­ters as per the In­dian Stan­dard Codes to re­sist seis­mic and wind forces.

• There is need to main­tain “ser­vice level bench­marks” for ca­ble car op­er­a­tions in terms of ser­vice fre­quency, speed, ca­pac­ity, ac­ces­si­bil­ity, and avail­abil­ity. Op­er­a­tions can get in­ter­rupted due to bad weather, par­tic­u­larly, high winds. Gen­er­ally, the max­i­mum ac­cept­able wind speed varies from 70-110 km./hr. de­pend­ing on the tech­nol­ogy used.

• There should be a strict sched­ule for main­te­nance of ca­ble car ve­hi­cles on a daily ba­sis. It is im­por­tant to con­duct pre-op­er­a­tive checks on ma­chin­ery and post-op­er­a­tive checks for main­te­nance, re­pairs of plants and ma­chin­ery.

• A plan should be put in place for evac­u­a­tion pro­ce­dures dur­ing break­down and evac­u­a­tion in an emer­gency or crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion.

• To im­prove me­chan­i­cal per­for­mance, there is need to con­duct “mag­ne­toin­duc­tive test” (i.e. mea­sure­ment of mag­neto-in­duc­tive flux leak­age to check work­ing con­di­tions of strands and to check rope core) and ra­dio­graphic test (in which gamma rays are passed through the steel wire ropes for get­ting images of the flaws to be rec­ti­fied). Fur­ther, vis­ual in­spec­tion of ca­bles sup­ple­mented with ad­di­tional mea­sure­ments on a daily ba­sis is nec­es­sary.

• Emer­gency stop but­tons must be pro­vided at con­ve­nient points to stop the ca­ble car ve­hi­cles in the event of an emer­gency. Fur­ther, an al­ter­na­tive mech­a­nism is re­quired to run ca­ble car ve­hi­cles at slow speed to res­cue pas­sen­gers from the main line in case of fail­ure of ca­ble car main drive mo­tor. Ar­range­ment of self-driven res­cue car­riage and cabin is de­sir­able at both lower and up­per ter­mi­nal sta­tions to evac­u­ate stranded pas­sen­gers on line.

The ex­ist­ing ca­ble car net­work in In­dian cities may be stretched by cre­at­ing new trans­port in­fra­struc­ture. Sim­i­larly, the pur­pose of re­cre­ational/tourism may be ex­tended to the mass tran­sit pur­pose. There­fore, a sci­en­tific study is re­quired for proper se­lec­tion of suit­able aerial rope tran­sit with eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity and ge­o­graph­i­cal fea­si­bil­ity. Ref­er­ences i. A Re­port on Ko­tap­pakonda Aerial Rope­way Project, Depart­ment of Tourism, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, 2015. ii. Hoff­mann, K. (2009), Os­cil­lat­ing ef­fects of Rope­ways caused by Cross wing and other in­flu­ences, FME Trans­ac­tion, No. 37, pp 175-184). iii.Ku­mar, Pawan (2016), Ca­ble Car (Rope­way): An Al­ter­nate Mode of Trans­port, In­dian Jour­nal for Trans­port Man­age­ment, Vol­ume 40, Num­ber-3, pp 203-211. iv. Kuehner, K. and Wehk­ing,K. (2018), As­sess­ment of Dam­age Be­hav­ior of twisted Rope­way Ropes in Oper­a­tion, Lo­gis­tic Jour­nal (DOI: 10.2195/lj_ NotRev_kuehn­er_en_201803_01). v. RITES Ltd. (2013), EIA Study for Pas­sen­ger Rope­way be­tween Dhap­per and Bha­lay­d­hunga in South Sikkim District of Sikkim, New Delhi. vi. Tezak, S. et al (2016), In­creas­ing the Ca­pac­i­ties of Ca­ble Cars for Use in Pub­lic Trans­port, Jour­nal of Pub­lic Trans­porta­tion, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp 1-16.

Fig­ure 1: De­tach­able Bi-ca­ble Ca­ble Car (Source: Hoff­mann, K. (2009), os­cil­lat­ing ef­fects of rope­ways caused by cross wing and other in­flu­ences, FME Trans­ac­tion, No. 37, pp 175-184)

Fig­ure 3: In­te­grated Sys­tem of Metro and Metro-Ca­ble, Medellin (Colombia)

Fig­ure 2: Me­chan­i­cal Sys­tem and Pas­sen­ger Cabin of Bhopal Rope­way at Manu­ab­han Tekri (photo by au­thors)

Meenal Jy­otika

Dr. Pawan Ku­mar

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