FlemXpress: Lift access to the Tectonic Arena Sardona UNESCO World Heritage Site

After 15 years of planning, the dream becomes reality: the new gondola lift in Flims, the FlemXpress, is under construction. The lift is a world first with unique technology called “Ropetaxi”. It will not only provide access to the Tectonic Arena Sardona UNESCO World Heritage Site , but will also make the area around Cassons accessible by lift again.

In winter 2023/24, the first two sections (Flims–Foppa and Foppa–Startgels) will be put into operation. The opening of the other three sections (Startgels–Segnes, Segnes–Cassons and Segnes–Nagens Sura) will follow in winter 2024/25. The construction work can be followed continuously via a video construction diary or on the project website flemxpress.ch. The current construction progress can also be followed live on the website via webcam.

Construction diary episode 7

The latest episode of the construction diary is about the rope of the FlemXpress. It is a so-called Performa rope, which is manufactured by the Fatzer company in Romanshorn. The rope runs practically vibration-free, is low-noise and saves energy. It therefore meets the high requirements, as Curdin Caprez, Head of Projects Lifts/Infrastructure at the Weissen Arena Group, says. Matthias Stacher, Technical Sales Director at Fatzer explains the exact functionality of the Performa rope. The episode also provides an exciting insight into rope splicing – a challenging task.

Timeline

Winter 2023/24

Commissioning of the first two sections Flims–Foppa and Foppa–Startgels

After a three-year development phase, followed by intensive test runs over two months, the new 10-passenger FlemXpress gondola lift will start operating on Saturday, 23 December 2023 with the opening of the two sections Flims–Foppa and Foppa–Startgels.

Summer 2023

Construction work in Startgels, Segnes and Nagens Sura

As soon as snow conditions permit, construction work will resume at the Startgels and Segnes sites. In Startgels, the shell construction has progressed so far that the Ropetaxi (lift technology) will be installed in the summer. The first work for the station is also taking place in Nagens Sura. By the end of 2023, the two sections Flims–Foppa and Foppa–Startgels including stations will be completed.

Spring 2023

Deconstruction of the Flims–Foppa–Naraus chairlifts

The chairlifts at the Flims valley station and the Foppa station will be dismantled. The stations will be dismantled down to the concrete slab. The new FlemXpress stations at Flims and Foppa will be built on top of this in summer 2023.

March 2023

Last ride of the chairlifts Flims–Foppa–Naraus

On 26 March 2023, the chairlifts from Flims to Foppa and on to Naraus run for the last time. To say goodbye to the popular chairlifts a celebration with locals, second-homers, guests and employees is held. The chairlift from Flims Dorf to Foppa was built in 1945 by the then Bergbahnen Flims. It was the world’s first detachable chairlift. In 1947, the lift was extended by a second section to Naraus. In 1986 and 1989 the lifts were replaced. With the new FlemXpress, another pioneering project is being realised on the Flims–Foppa line. This continues the history of innovation in chairlifts. The area around Naraus will no longer be accessible by lift and is given back to nature.

June-December 2022

Construction work in Startgels and Segnes

In summer and autumn, the shell of the middle station in Startgels will be built. In Segnes, the excavation pit will be secured and the first excavation work will be carried out. On the section between Foppa and Startgels, the supports will be erected in autumn. Due to the mild temperatures, construction work at both stations is progressing well.

June 2022

Groundbreaking ceremony FlemXpress at the Flims valley station

After a long period of discussions on variants and votes, the symbolic ground-breaking ceremony for the FlemXpress takes place at the valley station in Flims. Present were Markus Wolf, CEO of the Weissen Arena Group, Martin Hug, Mayor of Flims, Gabriel Derungs, CEO of Erni AG Bauunternehmung, Claudio Casutt, planner/engineer of CWZ Bauingenieure und Planer AG and Claudio Deplazes, project manager of Cassons AG.

The idea

The Corona crisis and the associated shift in values have forced the Weisse Arena Group to put its future projects to the test. Can planned major projects such as the Cassons development be realised? Will guests still feel safe in large cable cars? In the months following the lockdown in 2020, Reto Gurtner, Chairman and Delegate of the Board of Directors, together with cable car builder Roland Bartholet of Flumser Bartholet Maschinenbau AG and Martin Hug, the Mayor of Flims and then responsible for the lifts and infrastructure division within the Weisse Arena Group, scrutinised the existing plans in days of video conferences and planning sessions.

The innovation

This gave rise to the idea of a tourism lighthouse project with new technology: a fully automatic and demand-dependent gondola lift with several stations from Flims to the Tectonic Arena Sardona UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. The new technology called “Ropetaxi” was developed specifically for this project by the Weisse Arena Group and the company Bartholet Maschinenbau AG: The ride on the track takes place unchanged on the cable, as with ordinary gondola lifts. In the station, however, the cabins move autonomously on rails thanks to their own electric drive. If no gondolas are occupied, they are not on the track either. Thanks to the innovative technology, passengers can enter the stationary cabin with luggage or sports equipment without any hassle and absolutely barrier-free. Passengers also have the option of getting on or off at various stations, such as Foppa, Startgels, Segnes, Nagens Sura and Cassons. Guests simply select their destination before starting their journey, which their gondola will then reach fully automatically.

The realisation

The construction of the lift will take place in two stages: By the end of 2023, the two sections Flims–Foppa and Foppa–Startgels will be completed and put into operation. The existing Flims–Foppa and Foppa–Naraus chairlifts will be dismantled in 2023. By 2024, the three sections Startgels–Segnes, Segnes–Nagens Sura and Segnes–Cassons will be completed. In addition, the Startgels–Grauberg aerial tramway will be dismantled. The complete opening of the FlemXpress will follow in winter 2024/25.

Details

Under construction (construction start 2022)

Winter 2023/24: Sections 1 and 2 (Flims–Foppa–Startgels)

Winter 2024/25: Sections 3 to 5 (Startgels–Segnes, Segnes–Cassons, Segnes–Nagens Sura)

  • New gondola lift with 6 stations for entry and exit.
  • Passenger capacity per gondola: 10 people/ seats
  • Passenger capacity per gondola incl. bikes: 5 persons/ bikes
  • Transport capacity per hour: up to 1,800 people
  • Direct lift access to the Tectonic Arena Sardona UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • World novelty “Ropetaxi” system
  • Up to 50% less energy consumption expected

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