Take a trip to the top of Europe with ABB motors and drives

Take a trip to the top of Europe with ABB motors and drives

Switzerland’s Jungfrau Region has two new cableways to carry visitors in fast, comfortable gondolas high into the mountains. ABB motors and drives ensure safety and reliability while saving energy.

The Männlichen and Eiger Express Cableways bring skiers and sightseers to their destinations much faster than before. The Männlichen Cableway cuts the time to reach the ski slopes and hiking trails from 30 to just 19 minutes. The Eiger Express takes only 15 minutes to cover the journey to the Eiger Glacier. Both cableways are over six kilometers in length and start from a new terminal in Grindelwald, which offers a direct link to the railway. Visitors who arrive by train and switch to the Eiger Express can save as much as 47 minutes on their overall journey time.

“For our end customer, Jungfrau Railways, the top priority for the cableways is maximum availability and reliability. We decided to use ABB motors and drives because we know they are quality products and ABB is a reliable partner,” says Raphael Reinle, Project Manager at Garaventa AG, the Swiss unit of the Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group which realized the cableways. Frey AG Stans, a subsidiary of the group, was responsible for implementing the electrical control and integrating the drive solution from ABB.

  • Gondolas take only 15 minutes to reach the Eiger Glacier station... (© Jungfrau Railways)
  • which is located 2328 meters above sea level.
  • ABB motors installed in two pairs behind and in front of the gearbox.

Designed for safety, reliability and efficiency

Männlichen Cableway uses two 800 kW motors while Eiger Express is powered by four 500 kW motors, all controlled by six regenerative drives. For increased safety and reliability, Eiger Express has a double tandem motor system with four motors coupled to a single gearbox. A load sharing system with master/follower functionality ensures that all the motors are loaded equally. If necessary, Eiger Express can operate at full capacity using three motors.

ABB regenerative drives are also used for accelerating and braking the gondolas at the mountain and valley stations. Regenerative operation means that the motors function as generators when braking. The recovered energy is fed back into the network, boosting the system’s overall energy efficiency. Around 2.5 kWh of energy is recovered during each full cycle of the 44 gondolas on the Eiger Express. These energy savings naturally help to reduce power bills and cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Travelers reaching the top of the Eiger Express continue their spectacular journey by the Jungfrau Railway to reach the “Top of Europe”, the highest railway station in Europe at 3454 meters above sea level. The trains are equipped with energy efficient and compact ABB traction technology, enabling energy to be recuperated during braking and fed back to the railway network. Three downward journeys generate sufficient energy to power one upward journey. With conventional braking systems this energy would simply be lost as heat.

“ABB has a very special connection with the Jungfrau Railway,” says Aleksandar Velimirovic, Key Account Sales Engineer, ABB Switzerland. “ABB’s forerunner, Brown, Boveri & Co, electrified the original railway when it was completed in the early 1900s. Now – more than 100 years later – our technology still energizes the line, helps to power the trains and boosts efficiency. We are proud of our long involvement with the railway, and now with the amazing V-Cableway.”

Grindelwald Terminal, the starting point of both cableways (© Jungfrau Railways)
Grindelwald Terminal, the starting point of both cableways (© Jungfrau Railways)
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Positive impact on local economy

V-Cableway is the name of the overall project covering recent investments in the Männlichen and Eiger Express Cableways, the Grindelwald Terminal and new rolling stock for the Jungfrau and two other local railways. Construction began in mid-2018 and was completed by the end of 2020, and the total cost was CHF 470 million ($499 million).

This investment provides visitors with greater convenience and comfort, along with shorter travel and waiting times. It will make the Grindelwald area even more attractive, increasing visitor numbers, boosting the local economy and helping to create additional jobs. The positive effects will ensure that the Jungfrau Region maintains its position at the top of Europe’s tourist destinations.

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