The major project to build an Alpine Crossing entered its second phase in April 2019. After the successful start-up of the Matterhorn glacier ride in the autumn of 2018, the section between the Matterhorn glacier paradise and Testa Grigia is the only missing link in the cableway connection between Breuil-Cervinia and Zermatt. In future, a 3S cableway similar in construction to the Matterhorn glacier ride will complete the link. The planned cost of construction is about 30 million Swiss francs. The new connection will make it possible to travel from Cervinia to Zermatt for the first time without getting your boots wet. If everything goes according to plan, the first passengers will cross the Alps by cableway in the autumn of 2021, with the Matterhorn constantly in sight.
FACTS AND FIGURES ON THE PROJECT
|3'458 m above sea level||7.5 m/s|
|MOUNTAIN STATION||JOURNEY TIME|
|3'821m above sea level||4 min|
|CABLE CAR MANUFACTURER||NUMBER OF CABINS|
|LENGTH||PASSENGERS / CABIN|
|ELEVATION GAIN||DRIVE SYSTEM|
|363 m||LEITNER DirectDrive|
|CARRYING CAPACITY||CABIN DESIGN|
THE MOUNTAIN STATION
Matterhorn glacier paradise
The Alpine X project’s mountain station is at the same altitude as that of the Matterhorn glacier ride: 3821 metres. The new station will be built directly adjacent to the existing one so that the two buildings merge into one.
As with the first stage of the cableway project, the design of the station extension in the direction of Testa Grigia will further develop the concept of crystalline forms, the idea being to blend the appearance of the station with that of the rock wall of the Klein Matterhorn.
The shell of the hall will be made from timber, just like the existing station building. The wooden construction not only serves to enhance the stability of the mountain station, it will also give the building a warm and attractive appearance.
Another special feature of the mountain station is that two independently operating facilities can be connected with rails that allow cabins to be swapped between the two cableway systems. This has a particular advantage: if one of the cabins on the Matterhorn glacier paradise to Testa Grigia section requires maintenance it can be moved to Trockener Steg so that the work can be carried out there. This will save space, as the stations on the second section will not need a maintenance workshop of their own.
THE VALLEY STATION
The valley station of the Alpine X is being built directly on the Italian border, but still entirely on Swiss territory. This station at 3458 metres will finally close the gap between Italy and Switzerland.
As with the other cableway stations, the Testa Grigia valley station will have a timber construction, giving it a warm and modern appearance. Thanks to the open-plan style of construction, daylight will reach into the interior of the station, giving it a very modern and light appearance. Here again, Zermatt Bergbahnen is making every effort to ensure that the new station will blend visually into the landscape.
As soon as the Matterhorn glacier paradise to Testa Grigia section becomes operational, passengers arriving at Testa Grigia will be able to change directly onto the new 3S cableway to the Klein Matterhorn. The path connecting the stations is just a few paces. It can be negotiated with heavy luggage and also has wheelchair access. The same applies to stations along the whole stretch between Breuil-Cervinia and Zermatt as at Testa Grigia.
ONE SECTION, FIVE CABLES
From Testa Grigia (3'548 metres) to Matterhorn glacier paradise (3821 metres), the cabins will cover a distance of about 1.6 kilometres and overcome a difference in altitude of 363 metres. The relative shortness of this stretch means the cables can be spanned between the stations without intermediate towers.
As was already shown when the Matterhorn glacier ride was built and started operations, wind and weather pose an enormous challenge on this route. This is also the reason that Zermatt Bergbahnen AG decided to complete this section with a 3S cableway using the same principles of construction as the previous project.
THE 3S SYSTEM
In a 3S system (three-cable system), two support cables are first suspended in each direction of travel on the two-track cableway. These are firmly anchored at the stations and do not move. Then a hauling cable is drawn through both stations and the two ends spliced to form a continuous loop. That means five cables, also called ropes, are needed to get the cableway moving. The cabins are suspended from the support cables on rollers and as soon as the cabins leave the station, they clamp themselves onto the circulating hauling cable.
Thanks to the three-rope system, the cableway is much less vulnerable to strong winds than traditional cable cars. This is a basic prerequisite for the safe operation of a cableway installed at more than 3500 metres of altitude in a region where strong winds must be reckoned with at all times.
The 3S cableway is powered by a LEITNER DirectDrive system. Both gearless electric motors are highly reliable, low-energy and low-maintenance power units and noise emissions are reduced to a minimum. The synchronous motor is connected directly to the cable and, because it is without gears, the drive unit does not need lubrication.
As already with the Matterhorn glacier ride, the spacious cabins manufactured by SIGMA will whisk passengers quickly and in comfort to the Matterhorn glacier paradise.
The cabins were designed by Studio Pininfarina, renowned the world over for its work with Ferrari and Maserati. The cabin design inspired by the sports cars is remarkable for its generous features. With a floor space measuring 13.3 m2, each cabin will accommodate 28 passengers on heated seats upholstered in leather and Alcantara. During the ride, the extensive panoramic windows offer a spectacular all-round view of the mountain landscape surrounding the Matterhorn.
The wide entry is at ground level, making it easy to carry on sports gear and providing a barrier-free entrance and exit for wheelchairs and pushchairs or prams.
Crystal ride by Swarovski
Two of the total of ten cabins will be decorated all over with thousands of Swarovski crystals, just like the crystal ride cabins of the Matterhorn glacier ride. The logos on the seats will also sparkle in the sunlight thanks to Swarovski crystals.
On the ride from Testa Grigia to the Matterhorn glacier paradise, the crystal ride cabins reveal a spectacular downward view. The glass floor, which is made of an active laminated glass sheet, can turn from milky white to transparent, guaranteed to give some passengers an adrenaline rush when they look down.
The cableway ride over the Alpine ridge in the midst of the mountain and glacier landscape will be a unique experience thanks to the modern cabins. A perfect blend of luxury and nerve-tingling thrills.