Thursday, September 8, 2011

Doppelmayr's New Lift on the Italian side of Mont Blanc

Doppelmayr Italy scores the biggest order of their corporate history with an order value of EUR 105 million. Doppelmayr Italia GmbH was awarded the contract for the construction of the new ropeway on the Mont Blanc. This is the biggest order so far for the South Tyrolean company with headquarters in Lana.
The new, spectacular installation replaces the old ropeway from the 1940s and 1950s. The installation is located on the Italian side at the foot of the Mont Blanc and connects the tourist resort Courmayeur with the Pointe Helbronner.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the model project took place at the beginning of April with the first preparatory works for the building site. The procurement took place after three months of evaluating the bids. In order to take part in the tender several companies merged in a consortium. Under the name of "Cordée Mont Blanc" renowned companies participate in the construction of the new jig-back ropeway: the ropeway manufacturer Doppelmayr Italia and several building contractors, such as PAC SpA from Bolzano, Valdostane Cogeis SpA, Costruzioni Stradali B.G.F. Srl, I.V.I.E.S. SpA, and another building consortium from the Aosta Valley.
Operator of the ropeway installation is the company "Funivie Monte Bianco", in which the autonomous region Aosta is considerably engaged, and eventually gave preference to the consortium "Cordée Mont Blanc" for the construction of the ascent installation.
The future ropeway to the Mont Blanc scales the Pointe Helbronner at approximately 3,500 m above sea level in two new sections. The three line sections of the old installation will be demolished upon completion of the building works for the new ropeway. Glass and steel will set architectural highlights for the station buildings and the futuristic cabins. The stations are spacious and allows for views over the impressive mountain scenery by means of observation platforms.
The cabins have a round shape, are completely glazed and rotate about their centre axes. Doppelmayr has already implemented this advanced technology in other famous locations: for example in Cape Town, Palm Springs, at the mountain Titlis in Switzerland or at the Monte Baldo at the Lake Garda. But it is still a challenge for Doppelmayr: Never before has a rotating cabin been used in such height.
In each section a total of 4 carriers with a capacity of 80 passengers each is planned. The overall line length is 4.3 km and a difference in height of 2,140 m is overcome with an operating speed of 9 m/s (approx. 30 km/h). The track ropes are approximately 7 cm thick.
The drive consists of two electric motors with an output of 600 kW each. Per hour 800 and respectively 600 passengers (section 1 and section 2) can be transported.
The new cabins are a show piece of aesthetics and innovation. Thanks to the panorama glazing, the passengers can enjoy the 360 degree view without interruptions. The interior fittings are of state-of-the-art design: heating elements integrated into the cabin floor and walls, sound system, and video screens. On these screens pictures made by the camera that is attached to the outside of the cabin floor are shown through a wireless connection. In addition, the screens show information such as weather data and event tips. Other features the high-tech cabin offers are air conditioning, adjustable LED lighting and intelligent sway dampers – to only name a few.
The new bottom station is built in Pontal d'Entreves – opposite the ropeway "Val Veny". Despite being an aesthetic and spectacular eye catcher, the construction blends in perfectly with the overall view. The station can be easily reached via the motorway and provides enough parking spaces – a present problem of the existing station.
The mid station will be constructed near the old station and only be displaced by a few meters. Conference rooms and a restaurant complex are planned to find space inside. Nearby in Mont Frety, the legendary botanic garden can be seen – the most elevated in Europe.
At a height of 3,500 m above sea level and near the Pointe Helbronner, the new top station will be built – equipped with a huge observation platform and a breathtaking panorama view on the Mont Blanc massif: Dente del Gigante, Grandes Jorasses, Vallée Blanche and the Mont Blanc (4,810 m above sea level). Due to the restricted space conditions, the station is designed in terraces.
From the top station, a new elevator in the rocks leads downwards to the mountain shelter "Rifugio Torino". Up until now, the shelter could be reached by means of a small ropeway and a tunnel with stairs. The construction of the new elevator and the connecting tunnel is a work-intensive effort: the elevator well has a diameter of 7 meters and a difference of height of 70 meters. Ultimately, 130 meters of rock must be drilled through.
While building the new ropeway, special attention is paid to efficiency and sustainability in order to keep the energy consumption as low as possible. Thus, materials with high thermal insulation capacities are used, as well as photovoltaic installations and a heating system with heat pumps for heat recovery. This shall approximately reach the standard of a zero-power building.
The bottom station in Pontal d'Entreves even fulfills the criteria for a so-called "active house": More energy is generated than consumed.
The construction period of the new ropeway on the Mont Blanc is four years, the start-up is scheduled to take place in 2014.

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