In Val-de-Marne (Paris agglomeration), the first cable car in the Île-de-France region will soon be built. This cable car, known as Cable 1, will connect Créteil and Villeneuve-Saint-Georges via five stations. Although the cable car is set to open in 2025, construction began a few weeks ago.
The growth of metropolitan areas is being matched by the growth of peri-urban areas, which are now challenging to serve through existing public transportation networks. The extension of an underground or tramway system requires significant investment; therefore, it is crucial to examine the implementation of less expensive alternative solutions, such as cable transport systems, which allow a multi-modal hub to be served quickly in order to connect users to and from the main public transportation network.
Indeed, the cable car has the benefit of being less expensive to set up than other means of transportation since it requires less space on the ground: a line in the air would cost two to three times less than a rail or road link.
Ropeways are developed from a simple concept: two vehicles are tied to a single haul rope, and when the haul rope is pulled, both vehicles travel at the same speed but in opposite directions. They arrive at opposing stations at the same time. This configuration has the advantage of balancing the unladen weights, hence minimising the energy required to operate the system.
Urban cable cars are relatively old, the Bastille cable car in Grenoble (France) was put into service in 1934 and the Sugarloaf cable cars in Rio de Janeiro in 1912 and 1913.
Most of these installations were designed to suit unique geographical requirements such as river crossings, island access, substantial urban cut-offs, or significant height variations. Today, the stakes are different; cable car transportation is less expensive than tramway transportation and less polluting than bus transportation.
For several years now, Paris has been involved in a plan to transform its transport networks to improve traffic flow, reduce air pollution and promote so-called “soft mobility”, a term used to describe sustainable and user-friendly modes of transportation. Indeed, the warning signs regarding poor air quality are increasingly worrying: 1.5 million people in the Greater Paris region are exposed to high levels of pollution and 6,600 people die each year because of it.
The all-electric cable car is entirely in line with the energy transition, even outperforming its competitors, because it only requires one motor to power the entire system and a single braking mechanism. Furthermore, it also prevents over-overdevelopment of land as it does not require too much space to install the pylons and build the stations.
Renamed Cable 1, the cable car will offer 5 available stations from 2025. It will thus be possible to travel the 4.5 km between Pointe-du-Lac in Créteil and Bois-Matar in Villeneuve-St-Georges in 17 minutes. Up to 3,200 passengers per hour will be able to use the cable car, which will relieve road traffic.
“This attractive and innovative mode of transport will provide a concrete response to the daily travel difficulties of the inhabitants of these towns in the Val-de-Marne,” explains Île-de-France Mobilités (IDFM) on its official website.
Whilst Cable1 has many advantages, the project may face a number of legal and technical difficulties related, in particular, to travelling over sensitive sites.
“The big difficulty is political,” explains Laurent Probst, the managing director of IDFM. Indeed, accepting the idea of having a cable that passes in front of buildings or over houses is difficult. Many elected officials are reluctant because local residents are immediately opposed to the project due to NIMBYism
Concerns aside the urban cable car could, and arguably should, be used in suitable locations. Indeed, it has the advantage of being a good complement to more traditional modes of transport, it remains attractive, inexpensive and ,above all, the cable car is comparatively ecological.