The magnificent Swiss Alps offer spectacular resorts renowned for fabulous skiing and a myriad of winter activities, including the Alpine World Ski Championship in St. Moritz.
For more than a century, ABB’s technological expertise has been central to making the Alps accessible. Today, the company’s pioneering technology continues to make Switzerland’s railways, cableways, ski lifts and snowmaking facilities safer and more energy efficient. ABB technology is in broad use from ski-, chair and gondola lifts to funiculars, aerial tramways and trains and this technology is crucial to the overall infrastructure in place for this year’s ski championships in the iconic resort town of St. Moritz. This will be the fifth World Ski championship the resort has hosted, as well as two winter Olympics.
In 1935 the company’s predecessor, BBC, electrified the Suvretta T-bar. Today ABB motors and drives power most of the 56 cable cars and lifts serving the five areas at this exceptional resort. The famous Piz Nair cable car, with its ABB drives, enables visitors to ascend the mountain 365 days per year. For the competition, this week fans and competitors will take the Piz Nair up to the starting line of the race.
Clearly ski resorts cannot rely on nature alone to provide adequate snow during the winter season. To achieve a successful ski championship, great ski conditions are a given. To ensure great snow coverage during the World ski championships, a new pumping station powered by ABB engines and fed by a purpose built artificial lake was created. State of the art snow-making machines pump water using ABB technology from the reservoir. By shifting the primary water source closer to the slopes, pumping water from the valley is no longer necessary. This creates a virtuous cycle of sustainable technology saving more than 16 percent of the energy previously consumed. Regardless of Mother Nature’s mood, ABB ensures that snow conditions for the World championship will be perfect.
For over one century, ABB has provided a large part of the electricity powering the local rail line, the Rhaetian Railway (RhB). The railway’s first ABB-equipped electric train commenced operation in 1913. Innovative ABB traction systems enable today’s trains to travel through the rugged Graubünden region safely and reliably. Thanks to ABB technology, many of the 130,000 spectators expected to attend the championship, will arrive by RhB trains on time, regardless of weather conditions.
Of course, ABB technology is not limited to St. Moritz. The company’s technology has enabled more and more people to enjoy the Swiss mountains across the country.
In December, 2016, ABB created Switzerland’s first chairlift suitable for children and the physically disabled at the Klosters-Madrisa mountain resort, one of the most popular ski and mountain regions in the Bündnerland, near Davos. On the new 1890-meter long Madrisa-Schaffürggli lift ABB motors and drives ensure that the lift is reliable and energy efficient. A size-recognition control system lifts small children and adaptive monoskiers to the correct seat height so they can easily load onto the chair.
The Urdenbahn cable car is the center piece of the vast Arosa-Lenzerheide ski resort. The aerial cableway between Hörnli in Arosa and the Urdenfürggli on the Lenzerheide is powered by ABB motors and converters. Two pendulum crossings stretch a distance of 1700 meters across the Bündner Urdental without a single mast. The two pendulums run in parallel, yet function independently, adapting to passenger traffic, which saves costs and maximizes energy efficiency.
Modern AC drives used for the gondola lift between Engelberg and the Stand station at Titlis, near Lucerne, are an impressive example of technological progress. AC drives from ABB enable the Titlis Express as well as Rotair, the world’s first rotating gondola, to efficiently carry over one million passengers annually.
In 2015, ABB technology enabled Jungfrau Railway trains to transport more than one million people to The Top of Europe, a world-famous attraction in the Bernese Alps. The Jungfrau Railway has been bringing tourists to the highest European train station on the Jungfraujoch since 1912. ABB’s predecessor company, BBC electrified the train to make the rail trip possible. Jungfrau Railway trains use an ABB custom-made drivetrain to run safely and uninterrupted throughout the year despite heavy snowfalls.