Wild rides in creak­ing Ge­or­gian ca­ble cars

The Star Malaysia - - World -

CHIATURA: The rusted, bat­tered ca­ble cars that hang hun­dreds of feet above the Ge­or­gian city of Chiatura might be the world’s scari­est way to com­mute.

Chiatura, with about 20,000 peo­ple, is wedged be­tween steep moun­tains that hold valu­able de­posits of man­ganese.

The min­ers, who worked to sep­a­rate the metal from the moun­tains dur­ing the 20th cen­tury, com­plained that their steep walk to work was weary­ing.

In 1954, when Ge­or­gia was part of the Soviet Union, au­thor­i­ties built a net­work of ca­ble cars lead­ing to the mines and some of the hous­ing de­vel­op­ments that crawled up the foothills and slopes.

Seven­teen of the lines re­main in op­er­a­tion, most of them badly aged.

The gon­do­las are bat­tered. Some of the sta­tions where the cars start and end are in semi-ruin, with chunks of ma­sonry miss­ing and their Soviet-era dec­o­ra­tions fad­ing.

But if the 64-year-old tran­sit sys­tem looks like a wild ride to an out­sider, Chiatura’s peo­ple seem to take the creak­ing cars and pre­cip­i­tous drops in stride.

The sweep­ing views and creak­ing equip­ment get less at­ten­tion from some reg­u­lar pas­sen­gers than what’s pop­ping up on smart­phones.

— AP

View of the past: Ca­ble cars mov­ing over an aban­doned mine build­ing in Chiatura.

— AP

Not for the faint-hearted: A rusted ca­ble car hang­ing hun­dreds of feet above Chiatura.

— AP

Old-school gears: Min­ers walk­ing in­side the very old man­ganese plant where the ma­chin­ery is op­er­ated.

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